We’re all familiar with giant sequoias, those massive, awe-inspiring sentinels of the forest found only on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The most famous groves (Mariposa and Grant) are in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, respectively—and unfortunately, dogs are not welcome on the trails leading through them. But hark! We’ve sniffed out some alternative stands of High Sierra sequoias where DogTrekkers can wander and wonder at will with a four-legged friend at their side.
Just five miles north of Oakhurst and the southern gateway to Yosemite, the 1,500-acre Nelder Grove is worth a visit not just for its dog-friendly trails, but for its history and relics from the late 19th-century logging era. Many stumps of trees cut over 100 years ago poke from the ground, interspersed among giants that escaped the saws. Features along the mile-long Shadow of the Giants interpretive trail include information about the Miwok people who once lived here, as well as two old cabins and replicas of vintage lumbering equipment. A one-mile loop trail leads to the Bull Buck Tree, among the world’s largest at 246 feet high and 99 feet around. It’s three miles to the Graveyard of the Giants, resting place for massive trees killed by fire. For those who’d like to linger, Nelder Grove has a campground (suitable for tents but not RVs).
While Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are not dog-friendly (pets are allowed only in campgrounds and on paved surfaces), you can certainly soak up a lot of out-the-window scenery by driving the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, which ducks in and out of the surrounding Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument. Both hold many gems for DogTrekkers, among them the 4,600-acre Converse Basin Grove, home to the Boole Tree, largest sequoia on national forest land at 269 feet tall and 113 feet in circumference. (It’s reached via a 2.5-mile trail).
While the Rough Fire burned thousands of acres in the area in 2015, the Boole Tree and other landmarks survived, including the so-called Chicago Stump, the base of a tree cut down in sections in 1893, reassembled and put on display at the Chicago World’s Fair, where many viewers declared it a hoax.
The Converse Basin Grove is one of more than two dozen lesser-known sequoia groves protected in the national forest and monument. Another gem is the Trail of 100 Giants through Long Meadow Grove, where more than 100 trees greater than 10 feet in diameter reach for the sky.
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Photo Credit: Megan Reehill Watson