Big Trees State Park
Big Trees is at an elevation of 4,800 with easy access just off Highway 4. Summer is the best time to visit with temperatures as high as 80 but lows are in the 50’s. In spring and fall it occasionally rains, thunderstorms or snow showers are likely. Fall is usually dry with extremely high fire hazard danger. In winter there is often snow the roadway beyond the North Grove that leads to the Stanislaus River. The South Grove is closed from approximately mid-November to mid-April. The North grove area is open and sometimes suitable for cross-country skiing.
Calaveras Big Trees became a State Park in 1931 to preserve giant sequoias noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. A tree named the ‘Discovery Tree’ was felled in 1853 leaving a giant stump that measured 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter at its base and by tree ring count was over 1,000 years old. A plaque at the site explains that pieces of the Discovery Tree were displayed in New York and other cities to promote the location, but many people were outraged the tree was cut down. The entire promotion was considered a failure. Later, the stump was used as a dance floor and then a pavilion, bowling alley, and a bar.
Big trees has two campgrounds, the North and South Grove, with a total of 129 campsites. For reservations go to recreation.gov six months in advance.
Calaveras Big Trees / South Loop Mountain Bike TrailTake Memorial Parkway to the end past Beaver Creek Picnic Area. A fire road starts on other side of the gate. Stay right on road until your past the bridge. Then go right at first crossing, right at second crossing, and left at the second crossing. Then just stay left for the loop, very, very rustic, no tracks, nothing for 100 miles south of you.
The five mile hiking trip through a spectacular grove of giant sequoias is highly recommended and amazing to take in. Plenty of photo opportunities but remember to stay on the trails. The trails include the moderately difficult Lava Bluff 2.5 mile trail and the gentle well marked 1.5 mile Bradley Trail.South Grove Trails depending on your route, may take you on a 3.5 to 5 mile hike. The first 1.5 miles of trail you a gain of 260 feet in elevation. The loop trail is just over a mile and passes the lower part of the grove.
Halfway around the loop, you will find a 1/2 mile side trail leading to the upper grove and the largest tree in the park—the Agassiz Tree.Garbage cans and restrooms are available at the parking lot only, and be sure to carry water with you.
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