Redwood Canyon BP Trip
June 20-21, 2004
The Redwood Mountain Grove, in Kings Canyon National Park, flanks both sides of the mountain and
fills up the drainage of Redwood Canyon and is the largest grove in total area (over 4,000 acres),
has the largest area of old growth, and contains more mature sequoias than any other grove.
Perhaps the grove's single most impressive phenomenon is the almost pure, dense stand of mature
sequoias in what is known as the Sugar Bowl, on Redwood Mountain Ridge just south of the peak.
This stand within a larger dense concentration of sequoias called the "Sugar Bowl Grove," is one
of the very few such pure sequoia forests in the Sierra; more than fifty individuals in close
proximity to the trail can be viewed from one spot there. Some have speculated that the site has
the heaviest volume of wood growing on one acre of any forest in the world.
On Sunday morning I drove up to Grant Grove and there I met mtmnslady, a gal I met from
Backpacker.com She had driven up from Ventura the night before and had stayed in Azalea
Campground for the night. We went into the Visitor Center to get our Wilderness Permit. I
guess they still have not implemented their wilderness fees that I've been hearing so much
about! So the permit was free and after procuring it we were on our way.
|mtmnslady on the trail out to the Sugar Bowl
The Redwood Canyon Trailhead is down an unsigned dirt road just southeast of the Grant Grove
area. For this reason not too many people know of the grove and that is fine by me! We only
saw a couple of other hiking parties when typically on other park trails you can run into
hundreds of others.
The Sugar Bowl Trail is about 7 miles long and it climbs the flank of Redwood Mountain and
passes through stand after stand of dense sequoias. I've been in many a grove and this grove
is by far the densest as far as sequoias that I have seen! It is incredible the amount of huge
trees that are growing so close together!
June is a beautiful month to hike the trails in Redwood Canyon. There were so many
wildflowers blooming... at times it was mind-boggling! Especially the lupine. Lupine carpeted
nearly every sunny spot along the trail.
There are great views along the trail as well. Looking east you see across Redwood Canyon to
the granite dome known as Big Baldy. You can also catch glimpses of Buck Rock, a granite
needle with a manned fire lookout perched on top, and also views of Sawtooth and the other
mountains along the Great Western Divide.
We saw and heard many species of birds along the trail including Juncos, Chickadees,
Olive-sided Flycatchers, Stellar's Jays, Ravens, White-headed Woodpeckers, and Western
Tanangers. Other wildlife we saw were lizards, chickarees, and rainbow trout in Redwood
Creek. We saw deer scat and saw bear tracks but didn't catch any glimpses of these larger
The wildflowers along the trail were certainly profuse! We saw lupine, Indian paintbrush, 2
kinds of ceanothus, Western azaleas, clarkia, mustang clover, wild strawberry, wild rose, iris,
Mariposa lilies, columbines, larkspur, dogwood, farewell to spring, monkeyflowers, blue
penstemon, blue elderberry, western wallflower, wild ginger, pussy paws, mountain misery,
thimbleberry, Anderson thistle, draperia, Ithuriels Spear, and a little lily that I wasn't able to
After the Sugar Bowl the trail drops down to Redwood Creek. We took this part of the trail
really slow because mtmnslady had recently hurt her ankle. After about 2 miles we arrived at
the creek and found a great campsite next to a huge sequoia tree.
|Giant sequoias along Redwood Creek
I put my Tevas on and got in the creek as soon as I put down my pack. The water was great,
not too cold but certainly refreshing! I then walked up the creek probably about 1/4 mile
gawking at the huge sequoias along the way. The sweet scent of the azaleas filled the air and I
saw two large bear prints in the sand along the bank.
When we went to cook dinner I realized I had forgotten my spork! I fashioned one out of
aluminum foil and a stick for a handle but it was still rather messy eating my parmesan noodles!
Mtmnslady is a great backpacking partner, she didn't make too much fun of me with my
homemade spoon and we had a great conversation after dinner and before heading to bed.
Shortly after I fell asleep on my tarp, I heard a noise that woke me up. I layed there for a
long time but wasn't able to go back to sleep. So I moved my stuff closer to mtmnslady's
tent. She didn't hear me move but a little while later she heard me and said, "Carol?" She was
afraid it was some critter moving beside her tent! Soon after that I was able to fall asleep.
In the morning we ate breakfast, packed up, and hiked 1/2 mile up the Hart Tree Loop to see
the Fallen Goliath, a truly immense sequoia that was apparently hollowed out by fire and then
fell. You can walk down its entire length!
We then turned around and headed out the Redwood Canyon Trail. After a couple of hours we
were back at the trailhead and hungry! So we drove over to Grant Grove and each had a bacon
cheeseburger at the restaurant there :)
It was a great trip in a spectacular area and I hope to go hiking with mtmnslady again!
|Inside the Fallen Goliath