Walk down an old road through a forest of large trees to come to the even larger Sequoias of Tuolumne Grove. While not a vast collection, a few lying on the ground and an old tunnel tree (where cars used to drive through) makes for a fun experience.
The parking lot for Tuolumne Grove is, like many in Yosemite, fairly busy. I left the parking lot knowing that I would be sharing these massive trees with a few other folks.
I started down the trail, the old Big Oak Flat Road, through the forest. Initially, you can’t see any sequoias, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t see any large trees. Sugar pines and other trees do just fine in this area as well, growing to huge girths.
The trail drops about 400ft/120m down a gradual grade before I got to the junction with the first of two, connected loops making a letter ‘B’. Along the way I saw my first towering sequoia with its rusty colored bark and massive branches tucked away in the distance.
I broke off onto the loops which became actual trails meandering amongst the official grove. Sequoias are big trees. The only way to capture the scope of these massive giants is to have a point of reference like a person or a vehicle next to them. Even then, a picture doesn’t do them justice.
While some were in the distance, a few were right off the trail allowing you to see their almost hairy bark. A couple of trees were fallen trees which gave you a great view of their massive roots.
Back in the day, a tunnel was cut out of the base of one of these mammoths as a curio for visitors to drive their old cars through. The tree is no longer alive and it has burned, but walking through the old tunnel is just one more reminder that this isn’t your backyard variety.
The trees are definitely the main attraction here, but I also loved the variety of flowers and birds. Irises, roses, dogwoods, and ceanothus (see photos below) were such a delight. The creek that runs through also fed a carpet of yellow monkeyflowers.
Birds sang, tweeted, and pecked looking for insects and seeds. The uncommon White-headed Woodpecker is easily seen scouring the bark for a meal.
While most visitors seemed to do the two loops and head back, I continued down the road to see if I could see anything else. To my delight, I found a couple more sequoias right alongside the road that I had all to myself.
Little ol’ me briefly visiting this gentle giant that has stood for hundreds of years. Humbling.