Calaveras Big Trees State Park became a state park back in 1931 in order to preserve the North Grove. On Saturdays at 1pm the park offers a free guided hike of the grove from the Visitor Center! Take the guided hike or explore on your own, like we did!
Why we love it: Our family has seen lots of giant sequoia trees along the coast, from Muir Woods up through Avenue of the Giants, so it was nice to head a different direction with way less traffic! At less than two hours from home, it’s a lovely getaway and lots of families enjoy camping at the state park.
For the Young Ones (0-10): It’s an easy and relatively short loop. At less than two miles, the park totes the North Grove Big Tree trail as stroller-friendly (though not after rain) and there are a couple of places children can easily walk through fallen trees (one even has a handrail!).
For the Big Kids (10+): At the beginning of the loop or in the Visitor Center, you can purchase a pamphlet for 50 cents that explains each of the 26 numbered markers along your way, providing detail on what you’ll see in the area. They may also like the five mile South Grove hiking trail.
Keep In Mind:
- Sunscreen and insect repellant are a good idea for this trail. We saw mosquitos in the parking lot, so put on Bug Protector (I’m a brand ambassador) and we were fine.
- The parking lot fills up fast on a Saturday! When we got back to our car mid-day there were zero parking spaces!
- While it’s a popular trail, it’s always a good idea to have proper footwear. I cringed seeing flip flops and Crocs. Sneakers work great!
- There’s a $12 entrance fee to the park for day use.
- There are lots of little things for little hands to want you to buy in the Visitor Center. From the parking lot, you must go through the bookstore area to get to the museum.
- The famous Pioneer Cabin Tree/Tunnel Tree fell in January 2017, but you can see what remains after it fell.
- Out of curiosity, we took the Grove Overlook Trail off of the North Grove loop (around marker 2 – it drops you back on the loop around marker 14) and were the only ones on the much quieter trail. About 1/2 way down the trail, however, we came across a rattlesnake and turned ourselves around, back to where we left the North Grove loop. Read this link for helpful information on rattlesnakes in California.
Around the Area: Just outside of the park in Arnold, Giant Burger is known for their shakes. With nearly 20 flavors to choose from, you can have your pick from pumpkin pie to boysenberry! At only $4.25, one is large enough to split!
Difficulty Level: Beginner.