When people think of Yosemite National Park, the first things that come to mind are towering granite cliffs, waterfalls, meadows, and the famous Half Dome rock formation. But interestingly Yosemite is also home to one of the largest sequoia groves in California.
In this post, we share details on one of our favorite day hikes in Yosemite – the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Along this trail, you can explore miles and miles of mature giant Sequoias that are thousands of years old.
This is a great route if you’re looking for a longer trail with unique attractions and plenty of spots for rest breaks. The Mariposa Grove trail ends at Wawona Point which offers amazing views of the surrounding Yosemite National Park landscapes and the mountains.
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Mariposa Grove Location & Parking
Mariposa Grove is situated off Highway 41, about an hour south of Yosemite Valley. If you plan to stay in Yosemite Valley during your visit, be sure to account for the additional hour’s drive to get there and back.
Mariposa Grove is located next to Yosemite’s South entrance gate. This is the entrance station that we typically arrive through coming from Southern California.
After passing through the entrance booth, go through a traffic circle and take the first exit towards Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. This plaza has a large parking area where you can leave your car. There are also flush toilets, hiking maps, water stations, and information about the grove.
In the peak visitor months from April to November, Yosemite offers a free shuttle service that will take you from the Mariposa Grove arrival area to the trail starting point.
If you have a disabled placard, you can drive into the grove and park much closer. In the winter, the shuttles don’t operate so you will need to hike additional 2 miles each way along Mariposa Grove Road.
The shuttles are very convenient and run pretty frequently. The last departure from the grove is at 6:30 pm. If you miss the last shuttle bus, you will need to hike back to the parking lot.
About Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is one of the most majestic and serene places in California where you can visit and roam amongst mature Sequoia trees.
Ever since I visited the nearby Sequoia National Park, I’ve been in awe of these ancient giants. Sequoia Trees are some of the largest living organisms in the world by volume, although the Coastal Redwoods outshine them in height.
Sequoias are also some of the oldest trees on the planet and they can live for thousands of years. This type of tree can only grow in the western United States along the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Unfortunately, many of these giants were logged in the 1800s and now fewer than 20,000 mature Sequoias remain.
Mariposa Grove is home to over 400 giant Sequoias that you can visit and see up close which is a very special experience. This grove has been protected since 1864 from logging which is why there are so many grand Sequoia trees in this area.
There are a few trails that you can hike at Mariposa Grove:
- Big Trees Loop Trail. This hike is only 0.3 miles long which is great for families with little kids. Along this route, you can walk on a boardwalk and stop to read many informative signs that describe the life of the sequoias.
- Giant Grizzly Loop Trail. This 2-mile hike travels to the Giant Grizzly which is one of the largest trees in the lower grove. Along this route, you’ll also get to see the Fallen Monarch, the Bachelor, Three Graces, and the interesting California Tree Tunnel.
- Mariposa Grove Trail. This is a longer hike that travels along a wide road up to Wawona Point for 7 miles out and back. Mariposa Grove Trail is a great hiking option for those who want to visit all of the top highlights within Mariposa Grove and get a good workout.
- Guardians Loop Trail. This is another strenuous 6.5-mile-long loop that goes to Telescope Tree, Wawona Tunnel Tree, and Mariposa Grove Cabin.
Mariposa Grove is also a wonderful place to visit for winter adventures such as cross-country skiing, snow hiking, and snowshoeing. We came to Mariposa Grove last January after a fresh snowfall and the entire place felt like a magical winter wonderland!
Keep in mind that in the winter Mariposa Grove Road is closed to car traffic due to snow so you will need to hike additional 2 miles to the trail starting point and back.
In the winter, days are much shorter so most people stick to one of the easier hiking routes like the Big Trees Loop or Giant Grizzly Loop.
Hiking Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Once you arrive at the trailhead, you can head on several hiking trails that vary in length and difficulty. On our latest Yosemite trip in October, we hiked the 7-mile-long Mariposa Grove Trail which is the longest and most strenuous trek in this part of the park.
Here is our experience hiking the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Trail and some of the main stops along the way.
The Fallen Monarch
The Mariposa Grove Trail starts on a scenic boardwalk. This wooden pathway was built so water and snowmelt can move along the ground freely and feed the Sequoia tree roots.
The Fallen Monarch is the first major stop along the Mariposa Grove Trail. This spot marks the location of a fallen Sequoia tree with enormous roots. The Fallen Monarch has been slowly decaying since its fall, but it is estimated that it will remain intact for a few more centuries.
The Bachelor and Three Graces
After stopping by the Fallen Monarch, continue along a dirt trail with a slight elevation gain. You can stop by The Bachelor and Three Graces to snap a photo of these large Sequoia trees that have grown very close to each other.
The Grizzly Giant is one of the most impressive attractions within Mariposa Grove. This massive Sequoia tree is estimated to be around 1800 to 2800 years old, and as tall as the Statue of Liberty.
Here visitors can rest on one of the many benches and marvel at this giant tree. Many people hike just to see the Grizzly Giant, then turn around and return the same way that they came.
California Tunnel Tree
The California Tunnel Tree is located just steps from the Grizzly Giant and marks the location of a giant Sequoia tree that has a carved-out center. Back in the early National Park days, many of the trees were modified so carriages and cars could drive through them to attract visitors.
Modifications like this are no longer practiced at National Parks as they severely damage the trees. The California Tree Tunnel is in a weakened state, but it is still a living tree that is trying to repair itself by closing the gap.
The Faithful Couple
After the tunnel tree, the path will continue in a forest and connect with the main trail that you can take up to Wawona Point.
Along this road, you will pass several notable sequoia trees including The Faithful Couple. This ‘couple’ consists of two tall sequoias that have grown together at the base from sharing nutrients and water.
The Clothespin Tree
After The Faithful Couple, you can take a shortcut back to the shuttle area. If you keep going, the next major stop will be the Clothespin Tree which is very tall and has a wide opening at the center giving it the impression of a clothespin.
From here you can also go on an alternate route to the Mariposa Grove Cabin if you want to venture off the main pathway.
The great part about this hike is that the higher you go, the more mature giant Sequoia trees you will encounter! Mariposa Tree is an enormous Sequoia in the upper grove that is situated right next to the main trail.
Soon after, you will see a vault restroom and signs for Perimeter Trail. During our visit, the Perimeter Trail was closed so we continued along the wide path.
Mariposa Grove Cabin
Near the summit, you can go on a short side trail to see Mariposa Grove Cabin which was built in the midst of towering Sequoia trees.
The original cabin was constructed in 1864 and was used as a shelter for travelers in Yosemite. This small cabin was rebuilt in 1930 and later restored in 1983.
The last 0.5 miles of the Mariposa Grove Trail travel through a landscape with many burned-down trees that were recently affected by the Washburn fire.
Once you reach the summit, you will be greeted with panoramic views overlooking the surrounding mountains, Yosemite National Park, Highway 41, and Wawona meadow in the distance. The Wawona Point is located at 6810 feet in elevation and has been used as a lookout point for Native people for thousands of years.
Once you enjoy the views at the summit, you can turn around and head back the same way down. All in all, it took us about 4 hours to reach Wawona Point and 2 hours for the return trip, for a total of 6 hours on the trail.
We hiked at a pretty slow pace, took lots of breaks, and stopped for many photos along the way. Many people hike at a much faster pace and can finish this hike in 4-5 hours.
Pssst! I use the Sony a7C camera and Sony Wide Lens for my travel photos. Sony a7C is the smallest and lightest full-frame camera available on the market – perfect for traveling, hiking, and outdoor trips – while still maintaining the same incredible image quality as Sony’s full-frame cameras!
Yosemite National Park Visitor Tips
Here are a few visitor tips to keep in mind before heading out to hike Mariposa Grove:
- If you plan to visit Yosemite in the busier months between May to September, you will need to make entrance reservations ahead of time, especially for the weekends. Yosemite started to implement a reservation system in recent years for crowd control purposes.
- It costs $35 to visit Yosemite National Park which you can pay at the entrance booth. I recommend purchasing an annual America the Beautiful Pass for $80 which allows unlimited entries into any US National Park for a year. This is an amazing deal that will pay itself off within a few trips!
- Mariposa Grove does not allow bicycles or dogs. When visiting Yosemite National Park, pets are only allowed on paved roads, sidewalks, and campgrounds.
- This part of Yosemite National Park is located high in altitude so you might feel a bit dizzy or winded from the hike. If you do, take frequent breaks, drink lots of water and hike slowly.
- There is no reception within Mariposa Grove. I recommend downloading an offline version of Google Maps for driving directions ahead of time. We also downloaded the trail route from the AllTrails hiking app that we referenced during our hike. It costs $35.99/year to use the AllTrails app, but it will help you stay on track and not get lost in the forest.
- When visiting National Parks and outdoor spaces, please stay on designated paths and follow the Leave No Trace principles to explore the outdoors responsibly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about visiting Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove:
Is Mariposa Grove Worth Visiting?
Yes, Mariposa Grove is so worth visiting! Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is one of the most incredible hiking trails in California that will simply leave you in awe.
If you don’t mind the hour’s drive to get there from Yosemite Valley, it is well worth spending a day hiking and exploring this part of Yosemite National Park.
How Long Is The Mariposa Grove Trail?
Mariposa Grove offers multiple hiking trails, ranging in distance and difficulty level. The shortest hike is 0.3 miles long and the longest route is around 7 miles long out and back.
Do You Need a Reservation For Mariposa Grove?
Mariposa Grove is part of Yosemite National Park so during the peak visitor months from May to September you will need a reservation to enter and hike at Mariposa Grove. Be sure to make these reservations well in advance as they do get sold out.
What To Bring
Here are a few things that we recommend bringing for outdoor trips to Yosemite National Park:
- Plenty of food and snacks for the day. Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza does not offer any food so go prepared.
- Bring extra water, especially in the hotter summer months. I love my reusable REI Co-op Nalgene bottle which is leakproof and so easy to clean. There are water stations by the welcome plaza where you can fill up on water before and after the hike.
- Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes. A good pair of hiking shoes can make all the difference in outdoor adventures! I recommend getting a pair that are tough and have lots of traction so you don’t slip and fall, especially when your feet start getting tired. The Danner 2650 shoes are lightweight, durable, and made with Vibram 460 outsoles for an extra strong grip.
- Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles. Trekking poles can assist with tackling steep trails, finding balance, and hiking across difficult surfaces. The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are light, easy to use, and are made with an ergonomic design that offers stability and comfort on longer day hikes.
- Anker Portable phone charger. I always bring a battery pack when going on longer day hikes. A portable phone charger can come in handy in case your phone runs out of battery and you need to use it to look up hiking and driving directions.
- Small day pack. I have a small lightweight day pack that fits all my essentials, water, and camera gear. The Gregory Nano pack comes with a padded mesh back, several adjustable straps, and plenty of pockets where you can put small things like hand sanitizer, sunscreen, a headlamp, and a small medical kit.
- The Northface Leggings. These leggings are made of lightweight materials that wick away moisture as you start moving and sweating. The Northface leggings have a flattering cut that hugs the waist yet the material is super stretchy for comfort and movement which is great for hiking.
- Puff jacket. The weather in Yosemite can change drastically without much notice. I always bring an insulated jacket in my backpack in case it’s colder than expected. With a windproof and moisture-repelling shell, the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket will keep you warm by trapping your body heat and blocking the wind.
Where To Stay In Yosemite
Looking for a place to stay when visiting Yosemite National Park? Here are some of our favorites in the area:
On our last few trips to Yosemite, we stayed at the Curry Village Canvas Tent Cabins located at the center of Yosemite Valley. These tent cabins offer an affordable and convenient home base close to many of the top Yosemite attractions like Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, and Half Dome.
If you’re visiting Yosemite in the spring or fall, I highly recommend booking a heated tent to stay warm and cozy during the night. The heated tents also come with a wall plugin so you can charge your electronics overnight.
On-site amenities include easy access to restrooms, hot showers, places to eat, coffee shops, and a bar just steps from the cabins.
Tenaya Lodge is one of the best places to stay near Mariposa Grove, thanks to the hotel’s close location to the park’s south gate.
There are various accommodation choices available at Tenaya Lodge geared towards larger parties such as traveling families or friends. The hotel also offers private 2-bedroom cabins that come with balconies and fireplaces for the ultimate getaway experience.
Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn is a three-star hotel located in Oakhurst, not far from Yosemite’s south entrance. This rustic, mountain theme lodge is decorated in bright colors, and with original artwork featuring Yosemite National Park.
All rooms come with a coffee machine to start the morning off right! After a full day of exploring unwind at the onsite Oakhurst Grill & Whiskey 41 Lounge which serves American dishes such as steak, seafood, burgers, and pasta.
We hope this post has helped you to prepare for a wonderful visit to hike the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Looking for more Yosemite travel inspiration? Here are a few other popular Yosemite posts that you may enjoy:
- The 10 Best VRBO Rentals Near Yosemite National Park
- Best Day Hikes In Yosemite That Should Be On Your List
- Guide To Visiting Yosemite National Park In The Winter
- How To Hike Mirror Lake Trail In Yosemite National Park
- Hiking Yosemite Valley Loop Trail In California
Interested in going on an overnight backpacking trip in Yosemite? Be sure to check out these posts below that cover some of our favorite backcountry routes:
- Backpacking The Cathedral Lakes Trail In Yosemite
- Backpacking North Dome Trail In Yosemite
- How To Backpack The Eagle Peak Trail In Yosemite
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