Wild azaleas were showing off their white flowers and we caught a whiff of their scent before we saw them. This was the perfect time to see them blooming between Fish Camp and the Mariposa Grove plus got a nice workout as we wandered through Mariposa Grove to Wawona Point.
Where: Sierra National Forest, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Distance: 7.04 Miles but you can go shorter or farther
Elevation Range: 5,831′ – 6,805′
Date: June 26, 2019
Map: Ahwahnee and El Capitan Quads
Dog Hike? No, Pets are not allowed on any trails in the Mariposa Grove. Pets are allowed in the parking areas on leash only. Pets are not allowed on shuttles. Although this hike began on United States Forest Service jurisdiction where dogs are allowed, it quickly moved onto Yosemite National Park jurisdiction.
We headed up Hwy 41 past Fish Camp to the Goat Meadow Snow Play Area road on the right hand side of the road. We weren’t sure if the gate would be open past the Snow Play Area or what shape the dirt road beyond it would be in even if the gate was up. We lucked out and the road was open, a little rutted but passable with our Subaru’s. We drove about 3 1/2 miles past the Snow Play Area gate, parking at the closed gate in a manner to not block access to it. I am sorry that I do not know the name of the dirt roads as my two maps have different road information on them and don’t want to get you confused more than you may already be. If I get better names, I will update this blog but in the meantime, the topogaphic map and Doarama at the end can help you.
We started walking up the road. I could smell a sweet perfume smell but wasn’t sure it was the aroma of the azaleas or a lotion one of the hikers was wearing so I didn’t say anything. I was hoping it was the azaleas.
And it wasn’t long until we spotted those wild azaleas We took our cameras out and started shooting.
There were large patches of the white azaleas along the road and they were absolutely gorgeous!
We continued up the road, all making it safely across a small water crossing.
We followed the signs to the Grizzly Giant, making a short stop at the nearby clean restrooms.
We had timed our hike to go by the Grizzly Giant in the morning to avoid the crowds.
One of the hikers told us to stop and I did, thinking they saw a bear. It wasn’t a bear but a white headed woodpecker. There were two of them and we watched them work the tree for a while. I was curious how many types of woodpeckers were in Yosemite and when I got home I did some googling. Wikipedia lists the following woodpeckers for Yosemite National Park:
- Lewis’s woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis (R)
- Acorn woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
- Williamson’s sapsucker, Sphyrapicus thyroideus
- Red-naped sapsucker, Sphyrapicus nuchalis (VR)
- Red-breasted sapsucker, Sphyrapicus ruber
- Black-backed woodpecker, Picoides arcticus
- Downy woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens
- Nuttall’s woodpecker, Dryobates nuttallii
- Hairy woodpecker, Dryobates villosus
- White-headed woodpecker, Dryobates albolarvatus
- Northern flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus
We continued up the road, heading to the Mariposa Grove Cabin. We didn’t stop long but took the trail above the cabin toward Wawona Point.
Along the way, we spotted some beautiful Paint flowers.
And we spotted lupine but it wasn’t ready to bloom yet. Soon . . .
And wild iris were in many places along the trail and road.
We continued on the trail toward Wawona Point.
Just before we reached Wawona Point, one of our hikers showed us a view spot where we could look up the South Fork of the Merced River to catch a glimpse of the high peaks beyond.
It wasn’t long before we reached Wawona Point (6,810′ elevation), a good spot to stop for a snack and admire the views. We could look down into Wawona Meadow and across the South Fork of the Merced River to Wawona Dome, up toward Chilnualna Falls.
I walked over t0 a different area of the overlook at Wawona Point to better make out Lower Chilnualna Falls.
It was time to head back and we took the trail that led by the Fallen Tunnel Tree, mostly heading down via the Perimeter Trail. The Fallen Tunnel Tree used to be known as the Wawona Tree before it fell. A tunnel was cut through the tree in 1881, enlarging an existing fire scar. This tourist attraction, a human-made tunnel became very popular and visitors were often photographed driving through or standing in the tunnel. The Wawona Tree, estimated to have been 2,300 years old, fell in February 1969 under a heavy load of snow on its crown.
One of our hikers remembered an area that had Sierra forget-me-nots and I was amazed to see plants with white, pink or blue flowers in the same area. So pretty!
We weren’t too far from the car when we spotted a shady area with a patch of bleeding hearts.
On the road, almost to the car, one last photo of the wild azaleas and busy bugs.
If you look at the topographic map, it almost looks like we wandered around aimlessly but we did have a plan. There isn’t a right way to hike this area and wandering and being drawn to what interests you in the best way to hike the area. We hiked this on a cooler day and when we checked the temperature at Wawona Point, it was 62. Just a very pleasant day for this one but it will get much warmer during the summer so be sure and pack plenty of water and drink it.
Dog Hike? No
Dogs are not allowed on any of the Mariposa Grove Trails. Pets are allowed in the parking areas on leash only. Pets are not allowed on shuttles.
Where Pets Are Not Allowed
- On trails, including the trail to Vernal Fall (however, pets are allowed on the Wawona Meadow Loop)
- On unplowed roads covered in snow
- In undeveloped and wilderness areas
- In public buildings
- On shuttle buses
- In lodging areas
- In all walk-in and group campgrounds/campsites, including Camp 4
- In any other areas, as signed
These regulations protect both pets and wildlife from disease and each other. The National Park Service has prohibited pets on trails for many years. In particular, some pets chase wildlife, pollute water sources, and can become defensive and dangerous in unfamiliar surroundings. Pet owners have the burden to assure their pet does not damage the park values for others in those areas where pets are allowed.
What is a Doarama? It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.
Maps and Profile:
Prior Blogs in the Area: