The Tuolumne Grove is one of the easiest and best groves of giant sequoias to snowshoe through in Yosemite National Park. Most of the path is actually an old tourist route through Yosemite called Big Oak Flat Road that leaves from the parking lot. When walking to and from the Tuolumne Grove, you are walking in the footsteps of adventurers who traveled here more than 100 years ago. Because the majority of the path is an old road, the snowshoeing is steady and smooth for the entire route. When you arrive at the grove you will be presented with a fork in the road where a massive sequoia known as Big Red towers overhead.
The presence of snow in this grove creates a blanket that hides much of the area’s biology. Small mammals are likely burrowed nearby waiting for the spring. The parasitic snow plant lies dormant in the soil waiting for favorable conditions when it can drop its seeds. Sequoia seeds are also hiding under the snow. Though you may expect the sequoia to have large cones mimicking its own size, this is not the case at all. The cones of a giant sequoia are no larger than a chicken egg, and the seeds are much smaller. In fact, they are so small that it would take 90,000 seeds to weigh a single pound! Even though much is hidden in the snow, winter is a magical time to experience some of the world’s largest trees.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.