state parks

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California

Due to many things out of our control, we were forced to skip Sequoia National Park. Many of the RV parks had reviews that included warnings about length, due to trees or roads, others were just full and could only give us a few days. We thought about rushing to the area Saturday from Twentynine Palms (Joshua Tree area), see some of the National Park Sunday morning, and continue on to Angel’s Camp, but the closest doable RV park was still an hour away from the main sights and rushing like that is really wearing. It just wasn’t worth it.

We were however lucky enough that Big Trees State Park was just 30 minutes from our spot in Angel’s Camp. It’s smaller than Sequoia National Park of course, but still really large for a state park. The trees are comparable to those in Sequoia, one being only 25 feet shorter than the largest Sequoia in the world. Same width and in a similar grove with comparable trees all around.

Beautiful Grove
Beautiful Grove

To reach that tree, called the Agassiz Tree, you have to take a 5 mile loop hike through a gorgeous grove featuring  untouched trees of all ages, some hollowed out from fire but still alive, some lying on their sides, its an amazing, magical place to take a hike and one of the few groves never found by early loggers. Some of the trees are up to 25 feet wide and 2,000 to 3,000 years old.

On the way to the Agassiz Tree – South Grove trail, which is all the way at the end of the state park (9 miles in), there are a few other trails, a raging river and great views. We started at the end and decided to see the busier stuff at the beginning last.

It was wet and the forest was foggy, my favorite weather for a magical place such as this – however – the battery in my digital camera died early on, and it was too dark for my film camera so I missed some key stuff on the first hike. I took film photos anyway despite the light, and I went back later that week by myself to get some of what I missed.

Back at the beginning of the park near the visitor center there is a giant stump from a tree cut down in the 1800s, a walk through tree, and several larger trees that were spared the ax. It’s a nice trail that winds through the trees and tells some of the history of the place, how it was discovered etc. It’s much busier and not as peaceful as the South Grove, but nice.

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