Dillonwood Grove Hike
The Dillonwood Grove was largely in private hands up until a couple of years ago. Back in 1875
Nathan Dillon began logging the grove area before the land was surveyed and before there was
any regulation of logging on public land. In 1878 Dillon bought 1,000 acres of land there and
continued logging until 1900. This early logging was selective and many old-growth sequoias were
Sequoia National Park was created in 1890 and for reasons difficult to understand the NPS
never sought to acquire the Dillonwood area. By 1930 most of the remaining privately held giant
sequoia grove areas were acquired, but Dillonwood remained private. It was logged extensively
again from 1948 and 1958 and all but perhaps 100 large giant sequoias were cut.
A couple of years ago the Save the Redwoods League obtained the funding to buy Dillonwood and
it is now, finally, back in public hands and part of Sequoia National Park.
The access to Dillonwood is through Sequoia National Forest along an extremely rough dirt
road, 19S09, which leaves north from the Blue Ridge Road about 1/2 mile north of its
intersection with the Balch Park Road. This is perhaps the worst road I've ever attempted to
drive on! One of the seasonals I hired, John, and I headed up there yesterday and found the
road to be in terrible shape. There are ruts that could swallow a cow and huge rocks to
squeeze around. Talk about therapeutic, though, I love driving on roads like that :)
So we bumped and skidded our way up the road that in places was more of a trail as the bushes
and trees are trying their best to take it over. We finally parked near Jenny Creek at around
4,200' in elevation and decided to hike the rest of the way.
|An incense cedar in the Dillonwood Grove
The hike up to the grove was great, it was about 3 miles and 2,000' up but only steep in spots.
The dogwoods were still blooming and man has it been a bumper year for them! We saw many
other flowers including western wallflower, stonecrop, Indian pink, lupine, madia, snowplant,
pine drops, wild ginger, mustang clover, manzanita, elderberry, deerbrush, Fremontia, Indian
paintbrush, blue flax, gooseberry, currant, shieldleaf, mountain misery, cinquefoil, Anderson
thistle, and mountain violet.
As far as animals, we saw Juncos, Chickadees, a White-headed Woodpecker, a few warblers, a
Western Tanager, and many a little birdie that flew away too fast before we could ID them :(
We also saw two snakes, a ring neck and a garter. We came across a steaming pile of fresh
bear scat... but no bear.
It's amazing to me how you can sense you are nearing a sequoia grove. The air is cooler and
moister and the ground cover changes and becomes more lush. Giant sequoias require an
extensive amount of water, either on the surface or below, so they usually grow in
well-watered drainages or on gently sloping plateaus. The Dillonwood Grove is no exception.
You can feel the change in landscape and then boom, usually you are greeted with a huge sequoia
tree that leaves no doubt in your mind that you are in the grove.
|John next to the first big sequoia we saw
Backing the grove to the east is Moses Mountain, elevation 9,331'. As we got up to the grove
the views of Moses were amazing. A few clouds rolled in and softened its jagged peaks. There
was still some snow up on Moses' slopes.
We only saw a few big sequoias up there, like I said, most of them are gone. But oh what a
forest it still is! There are hordes of young sequoias that just seem to be thriving! And so
many dogwoods blooming along the fringes of the meadows. We ate lunch sitting on huge giant
sequoia logs next to a babbling brook and afterwards I took pictures of the dogwood then we
explored some cabins that were part of the settlement up there and are still standing (barely).
We decided to head back down around 2:00 pm. Once we got back down to Jenny Creek we
stopped and soaked our feet and relaxed. The granite slabs were polished smooth by the
creek and made for a great resting spot. John found two rocks to recline on and I scrambled
up to a waterfall.
So it turned out to be a great dayhike in a very remote area of Sequoia National Park. And I'm
very happy to have found another hiking partner! If you are in need of one, well, just do as I
did. Hire one! lol
|Old Dillonwood Cabins
amongst thriving young