Deer Creek Grove
California Hot Springs
November 18, 2006
Yesterday Todd and I took a drive over to California Hot Springs, a small
community south of Springville about 1 hour.  I wanted to check out the Deer
Creek Grove, the southernmost grove of Giant Sequoias.  The dirt road going to
the grove is typically open June-November and is very well maintained for about
1 mile then slightly bumpy for the next 2.  At this point you come to a small
campsite next to a tributary of Deer Creek and here, if you don't have a high
clearance 4WD vehicle, should probably be where you stop.  But with the Subaru
we managed to get a couple more miles up the road to where several trails cross
the road.  We found signs for 34E54 and 56 but not 55, which was the trail that
from the map appeared to transverse the middle of the grove.  So I just
scouted the terrain out a bit and found a likely looking trail and off I went,
telling Todd to meet me back down at the campsite.  It was about a mile downhill
and the trail I picked did pass by several giant sequoias and in no time at all I
was back at the campsite.  I can't be sure I was on 34E55 because it's not
marked, but it is a nice hiking trail that was engineered with switchbacks and
everything.  Please be prepared with a good map and navigational skills if you go
explore any of our groves, as most of the trails are no longer maintained.

The Deer Creek Grove is the most southern grove and is about 250 miles as the
bird flies from the northermost grove, the Placer County Grove.  It covers
about 40 acres and has about 35 big sequoias and many younger trees scattered
along the creek and on the shady north-facing slopes.  This time of year this
small creek canyon doesn't receive any direct sunlight and so the hike through
the grove was completely shaded and cool (that's why none of my pictures turned
out particularly exciting).  There are white fir, sugar pine, incense cedar, and
black oak growing amongst the sequoias and I'm told it's also fine spotted-owl
habitat.  There was just a little bit of water in the creek.  We didn't see
anybody else up there, despite the fact that it was a beautiful fall Saturday,
and from the condition of the trails I could tell not many people hike them.

After my hike we ate a picnic lunch then headed back down to California Hot
Springs.  The Hot Springs Resort was built in the 1920's and it was a bustling
place back then.  Now it's rarely bustling but offers a nice (very nice) way to
relax after a nice hike :)  For $10 ($5 if you're a kid) you get to soak all day if
you want in the hot spa, the not-so-hot spa, and swim in the warm pool, all in a
beautiful wooded canyon along Deer Creek.