Mariposa Grove is home to Yosemite’s most famous living attraction: 1,000-year old Giant Sequoias, the largest living things in the world. This grove of Sequoiadendron giganteum is the place that inspired Abraham Lincoln’s protection of Yosemite National Park. Even if you aren’t a tree nerd, after visiting, you’ll feel inspired, too. There are a variety of hiking options here, from shorter day hikes you can do with your kids to strenuous hikes that will challenge — and inspire — you.
In Mariposa Grovel, you’ll hike through groves of trees that tower above like characters out of Tolkein. If you see no other Giant Sequoia, make sure you see the 1,800 year-old Grizzly Tree, the oldest tree in the Park (that we know of). You can literally walk through the California Tunnel Tree, a living tree whose center has been bored out. My family has a photo there and yours will want one, too. The Bachelor & Three Graces are four giant trees who are so close to one another, their roots are twisted together. The Fallen Monarch is a downed sequoia trunk that ecologists suspect has been there for centuries.
Choose your own hiking adventure in Mariposa Grove
Depending on the energy of your party, you can visit the Mariposa Grove as a 0.3 mile loop on the Big Trees Loop Trail, a 2 mile loop on the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail, or a 7.6 mile hike on the Mariposa Grove Trail (view the trail map here). The elevation change on the 0.3-mile trail is negligible, but the 2-mile hike to the Grizzly Giant has 300 feet of gain. As a more advanced hiker, I enjoyed the 1,200 feet of climbing on the longer out-and-back to Wawona Point. It has killer views of Wawona Valley. My sister lived and worked as an ecologist in Wawona and says long Guardians Loop or Mariposa Grove Trail are the places to go to get away from the crowds in the rest of the grove.
A true Yosemite gem — less crowded with all the appeal
The Mariposa Grove area was recently renovated to better protect the trees and manage visitors, so expect shiny, new amenities. I think the best option for parking is just inside the Southern Entrance of the Park at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. The reason is that the gate to Mariposa Grove Road is closed at 7:30am and most of the other parking areas are limited to cars with disability placards. If you visit in the winter, the road to the grove is closed, but you can snowshoe there (it’s fun).
Wawona feels more like a community than other built-up areas in the park. There’s permanent residents, a school, and even live music and barn dances during the summer. Come for the trees, stay to experience a less hectic Yosemite than what you’ll find in the Valley.