Mariposa Grove of the Giant Sequoias and Wawona Point









Distance Comments: 

You can walk as little (take the shuttle) or as much as you want. 6 miles to see the upper grove and Wawona Point without using the shuttle

Distance in Miles: 

6.00 miles

Trip Type: 



Mariposa Grove

Trailhead Elevation: 


Elevation Gain/Loss: 

0 - 800 feet

Elevation Min/Max: 



Map/guide rovided by the Park Service for $0.50 at the trailhead


Rolling trail (2 out of 5)


With some of the biggest trees in the world, including the Grizzly Giant, the 27th largest tree in the world by volume, the Mariposa Grove is an absolute must see for any trip to Yosemite. Crowded (1.5 million visitors per year) and a bit industrial (trams and gift shops), but this simply should not be missed. This area is served by a variety of trails as well as a tram in the summer, so you can choose to walk as much or as little as you want. A five-mile walk will get you a reasonably complete view of the upper and lower groves.


There's so much written about the Mariposa Grove that it would be pointless for me to repeat all that here, so I just offer a few notes. I would like to say that the images speak for themselves, but I have just never been able to get decent summer time images of the grove.

  • The Grizzly Giant is not the fifth biggest tree in the world, as you may read in some places. It is now considered the 27th largest tree in the world by volume.
  • The age of the sequoias tends to be exaggerated both in older literature and in park service handouts and plaques. If you care how old these trees are, see the excellent article by Nathan Stephenson, Estimated Ages of Some Large Giant Sequoias: General Sherman Keeps Getting Younger. According to Stephenson, the Grizzly Giant is probably about 1800 years old. That's somewhat less than the 2700-year age that the Park Service gives it and lots less than the 6000-year age originally assigned by galen Clark (Stephenson estimates that there is a less than 2% chance that the Grisszly Giant is 2700 years old or older.
  • During crowded times, you will not be allowed to drive into the grove and will need to park about seven miles away at Wawona and take a shuttle.
  • Once in the grove, you can walk a variety of trails or take the tram tour. If you take the tram, you can get off any time and walk around or take the tram uphill and then walk down.
  • The tram has an audio program available in many languages and may be a worthwhile experience for many even if you prefer to walk (I don't know, I've never done it)
  • There are a variety of trails and the "outer loop" is a fair bit longer, but has few sequoias.
  • As crowded and ridiculous as it seems, even on busy days, it can be fairly quiet in the upper grove and downright lonely at Wawona Point
  • Wawona Point is only a quarter mile from the Galen Clark tree and is usually quiet and offers a nice place to have lunch with a little tranquility.
  • There is no tree that you can drive through in Yosemite and there never has been such a tree in Sequoia National Park. The famous Tunnel Tree now lies tragically on the ground, destroyed by paving around it and carving out the middle, and ultimately brought down by the record snows of 1968-69. You can now see this monument to the folly of our forefathers at the very top of the grove. you can walk through the California Tree, which once provided a winter alternative to the Tunnel Tree, but only for horses and rather narrow wagons, as you'll see. There is also a tunnel tree in the Tuolumne Grove, a one-mile walk from the parking area.
  • In the winter, you add four miles to the round trip, but on most days you will have the upper grove to yourself

See also the Wikipedia article on the Mariposa Grove

Runner's Notes: 

Not too steep, but some nice uphills. However, not a great place to run, I would say, because of the somewhat confusing network of trails and, at least for sequoia worshippers like me, it's like running in church or something.

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