You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen the giant sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.
To understand their magnitude, picture branches that can reach eight feet in diameter and bark that might be three feet thick. A sequoia trunk can span 35 feet. The tallest tree in Yosemite is the Columbia Tree, reaching a height of 286 feet. Because of their thick bark, sequoias are resistant to fire and can live to be a mind-boggling 3,000 years old. The oldest tree in Yosemite is Grizzy Giant, estimated to be between 1,900 and 2,400 years old.
Mariposa Grove, first protected by President Lincoln in 1864, boasts more than 500 giant sequoias. The grove became part of the national park in 1906. For three years beginning in 2015, the area underwent a huge restoration project to improve the habitat for the trees and the experience for visitors. The Mariposa Museum & History Center, opened in 1957, is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.
While pets are not permitted in the popular grove, hikers are welcomed. The open trails range from easy (Big Trees Loop Trail, 0.3 miles long and wheelchair accessible) to strenuous (Guardians Loop Trail and Mariposa Grove Trail, 6.5 and 7 miles respectively). The Grizzly Giant Loop Trail, about 2 miles long, is considered a moderate hike. The Mariposa Welcome Plaza and Arrival area offers restrooms, and drinking water year-round at the welcome plaza.
You will never find a better photo op or a better understanding of your place in the universe than when standing beside, in front of or on a giant sequoia tree. The experience may inspire you to write poetry, but in the words of poet Joyce Kilmer, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”