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Snowshoeing to Upper Mariposa Grove

A dusting of new snow was the perfect backdrop for our hike to see gigantic Sequoias. Some of our hike was with snowshoes and some of it was without. That is the way it goes with springtime snow.

Where: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Distance: About 10 Miles but you can go shorter or farther
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 5,142′ – 6,471′
Date: March 11, 2019
Map: Ahwahnee, 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.

We headed up Hwy 41 through a potential road delay near Mountain House but it was our lucky day and the line of cars were waved through as soon as we reached it. We proceeded through the South Entrance to Yosemite which wasn’t staffed but we had our Senior and America the Beautiful Passes with us.

In the winter, the Mariposa Grove Road is closed and you need to walk up the road 2.1 miles to get to the Mariposa Grove. We had prepared for that but since the new Visitor Center and updates related to the Mariposa Grove had occurred, we weren’t sure where to park for our adventure. The small parking areas at the Entrance Station and rest rooms are marked as 10 minute parking or handicapped. We used to park across the street but now it is signed with bus parking only. We ended up asking a Yosemite National Park employee who was cleaning the restrooms where to park and he told us to park in the bus parking area where no one was parked yet. So we did. It was 23 degrees when we started and we took a look at the Mariposa Grove Road’s conditions. It looked really packed, although a smidge icy at the beginning so we decided to carry our snowshoes for a while, put them in our packs if we didn’t need them or put them on when we did need them.

 

 

We hadn’t walked too far before we were greeted by a friendly snowman, but Deb felt that she needed a nice pair of shoes to go with her outfit and snowshoes did the trick!

We continued up the road.

There was plenty of snow and icicles when we reached the parking area at the lower grove. I thought that I had read that the restrooms weren’t open here during the winter but they sure were on this visit.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How could we resist posing for a picture of us by the Mariposa Grove sign? We gladly returned the picture taking favor with another group of visitors from Houston.

We strapped our snowshoes on our packs and headed up the trail. Can you believe the amount of snow on that boardwalk trail? It was even above the side railings in some places.

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

Of course, the views along that boardwalk section of the trail were stupendous.

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

We continued up the snowy trail.

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Photo by Debra Sutherland

It wasn’t long before we reached the Grizzly Giant, said to be the 25th largest Giant Sequoia living today. It is estimated to be 209 feet tall, 96.5 feet in circumference and 25.5 feet in diameter at 1.5 feet above the ground.

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Grizzly Giant (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

We took a short walk over to the Tunnel Tree which was cut in 1895 as a marketing scheme to attract visitors to the grove. This cut section allowed coaches to pass through it and this is the only living Giant sequoia tree with a tunnel in it since the fall of the Wawona Tunnel Tree in 1969 and the fall of the Pioneer Cabin Tree in 2017.

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Tunnel Tree (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

Still carrying our snowshoes, we continued up the road.

The road passed by the Faithful Couple Tree. These two trees grew so close together that their trunks fused together at the base.

Faithful Couple Tree

The snow was getting a bit deeper and we decided it was time to put our snowshoes on and we continued on up the road.

These Giant Sequoias are so tall I almost got a crick in my neck look up all of the time. The way the snow piled up at the base of the trees was very special. I think it was something about the color of the truck and that white snow. Each stump was unique.

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

It wasn’t long before the Mariposa Grove Museum was in our sites. The museum is closed during the winter but you can visit it in the summer, view exhibits on the ecology and history of giant sequoias, and purchase books and postcards.

The Mariposa Grove Museum was built in 1930 on the site where Galen Clark’s cabin was located. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Galen Clark was the first “Guardian” of Yosemite after the Yosemite Grant was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He persuaded lawmakers to protect the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as well as Yosemite Valley for future generations. The wonderful picture below was taken of Galen Clark  in 1904 at the age of 90 standing next to his Mariposa Grove cabin.  You can visit Galen Clark’s gravesite in Yosemite Valley’s historical cemetery.

Galen Clark, Mariposa Grove Cabin (HOOD 76-11 Galen Clark and Mariposa Grove Cabin)

Galen Clark in Front of his Cabin 1904 (Photograph courtesy of Yosemite National Park)

 

It was lunch time and the museum was the perfect spot for that and we all created a comfortable spot to sit.

Then we each took our lunchtime snowshoe picture.

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And took in the view.

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Photo by Debra Sutherland

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

 

 

 

After lunch, we wandered through the area and taking pictures. One of us took their pictures while finishing up their lunch. What a multi-tasker!

 

It was time to head back and we followed the road back along the southeast side of the Upper Mariposa Grove.

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

We came across many critter tracks in the snow.

The small creek that flows through the Upper Mariposa Grove, eventually flowing into Big Creek, created a tranquil view.

We took the short trail off the road down to the Clothespin Tree. Many fires over the eons have nearly severed this tree’s trunk, creating a space in it large enough for a pick-up truck to drive through.

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Clothespin Tree (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

We continued with our snowshoes on til we reached the parking lot. By the afternoon the snow had softened and it was just less slippery to leave them on but many people were doing just fine walking on the snow.

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.

Yosemite Hospitality operates a dog kennel in Yosemite Valley from approximately late May through early September. Written proof of immunizations (rabies, distemper, parvo, and Bordetella) must be provided. Dogs must be at least 20 pounds (smaller dogs may be considered if you provide a small kennel). You can get more information about the kennel by calling 209/372-8326.

Doarama, Map and Profile:

I have a very sad story to share with you about the GPS statistics related to this week’s hike. With 2 GPS among us, you would think we would capture the track but we didn’t this time. I forgot to track and the other GPS unit’s battery died 2.1 miles from the end of our hike. So, the map, profile and Doarama are 2.1 miles short of the complete hike but I think you can get the picture from them.  I did measure where the GPS battery died and added that to the summary information at the beginning of the blog. We aim to do a better job in the future. I want to give a special thank you for her GPS track this week!

Upper Mariposa Grove Snowshoe Doarama

Upper Mariposa Grove Topographic Map

Upper Mariposa Grove Profile

Mariposa Grove Winter Trails (Courtesy National Park Service, Yosemite Association and The Yosemite Fund)

Sources:

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Mariposa Grove Winter Trails

Yosemite National Park Entrance Fees

Grizzly Giant Wikipedia

Mariposa Grove Wikipedia

Mariposa Grove Galen Clark Cabin

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