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
Mtmnslady's Webshots Album featuring photos of this hike
A dayhike on the Hart Tree Loop
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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.
Big Baldy
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 animals.
Indian Paintbrush
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 identify.
Western Azalea
Ceanothus
Clarkia xantiana
Monkeyflower
Farewell to Spring
Columbine
Sierra Iris
Queen's Cup
Mustang Clover
Wild Rose
Thimbleberry
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
Mountain Misery
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.
Horsetail
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