Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,008.00 ft (307.24 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.75 mi (7.64 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

A stone's throw from Yosemite National Park's south entrance is the entrance to the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia. These trees are some of the largest living things on Earth, and estimates date some specimens close to 3,000 years. The grove contains about 500 mature trees.

It's a breathtaking spot and thousands of visitors make a pilgrimage to the grove every year. You can experience these trees in relative solitude if you're willing to get up early. The grove is open year-round. However, the shuttles running from the lot near the south entrance to the grove only run from spring through autumn as conditions allow. There is very, VERY limited parking at the grove itself. When the shuttles are running, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, you are expected to park in the lower lot at the visitor center and use the shuttle to get to the grove.

Shuttles are free and run every 10 minutes. There are flushing toilets, drinking fountains, and a gift shop at the visitor center. At Mariposa Grove, there are more toilets and drinking fountains. To beat the crowds, aim to get a shuttle before 8:30 a.m. Once the tourist buses begin to arrive, around 10 a.m., the crowd numbers swell in a huge hurry. Dogs are not allowed, and there are plenty of rangers around to ensure rules are followed. This is a good thing.

Protect and Respect

For years, trails in the grove were loosely defined, and visitors were allowed to climb on fallen trees, crawl through burn-hole tunnels and treat the grove like a playground (as a childhood visitor who went many times, I was one of those who scrambled around, untethered, wherever I could). There was even a path worn along the top of the Fallen Monarch. Look closely, and you can still see its remnants. Since then, scientists have figured out that despite their immense size, these trees have a delicate and shallow root system. In fact, they have discovered quite a bit more about these magnificent trees. Information is shared freely in brochures and on placards along the more popular trails. Additionally, the National Park Service has erected perimeter fences around the trees. The Big Trees Loop Trail is entirely constructed of a wide, elevated wooden walkway that is ADA accessible.

A 5-Mile Loop

Start your walk at the main entrance of the Mariposa Grove Trail. This is also the beginning of the Big Trees Loop Trail, which quickly veers to the left. Stay straight. You'll find yourself immediately in the company of giants.

One of the grove's more famous inhabitants is the Grizzly Giant, which is located about 0.7 mile from the entry. With a 92-foot circumference, it takes several minutes to amble around the Grizzly Giant's perimeter. It's a regal tree, and even if it is crowded, it's worth visiting. Just beyond the Grizzly Giant is the California Tunnel Tree. The tunnel was created before people realized that hacking out a giant chunk through a tree's heartwood might eventually harm it. (The Wawona Tunnel Tree is now the Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree.) Despite its amputation, the sequoia is still standing, and to be fair, it is a neat experience to walk through it. If the crowds have arrived, be prepared for a choke point. Everyone wants a picture of themselves inside the tunnel. People are generally polite and let others snap their photos without photobombing. The result, however, is a long wait; again, go early!

A little ways past the California Tunnel Tree, the Mariposa Grove Trail turns left and becomes a small dirt road. Cross this road and look for the sign directing you to the Perimeter Trail. You'll follow this up for a bit over a mile until you get to Galen Clark's cabin, also known as the Mariposa Grove Cabin. Galen Clark was a historical figure in Yosemite and constructed this cabin in a magical space that somehow balances giant sequoia and small meadows. There are wildflowers, shafts of sunlight, and deep, immense beauty everywhere you look. There are also vault bathrooms. The cabin used to be the old Mariposa Grove museum, and what was worth saving was relocated to the visitor center.

You can continue on and do the Perimeter Trail in its entirety. There are more trees to see. But if you're ready to head back, retrace your steps back to the bathroom. Instead of going down the same Perimeter Trail, stay to your right. In about 0.5 mile, you'll intersect with the Mariposa Grove Trail. Follow it down, and you'll meet up with the Clothespin Tree and Faithful Couple (two trees that share the same base). For 5 miles, continue until you get back to the Grizzly Giant and eventually the original trail entry. If you prefer a little more wandering, turn right on the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail.

There are no fees to see the Mariposa Grove. However, the grove is located inside Yosemite National Park, and you will have to pay to enter.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Breathtaking. Immaculate trails. Family-friendly options.

Cons

Crowded. Developed.

Trailhead Elevation

5,529.00 ft (1,685.24 m)

Highest point

6,373.00 ft (1,942.49 m)

Net Elevation Gain

877.00 ft (267.31 m)

Features

ADA accessible
Wildlife
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Guided tours
Wildflowers
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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