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Yosemite National Park: Tuolumne Grove And Hodgdon Meadow

Attain deep-forest tranquility on this leisurely amble to Yosemite’s Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias, home to some of the largest living organisms on Earth.

Rating

East of the towering crags and pointy spires of the Clarke and Cathedral ranges, Yosemite unfolds into a peaceful landscape blanketed by sprawling forest and breeze-kissed meadows. On this predominantly downhill 5.8-miler, meander through a hallway of trees en route to the legendary Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias before rolling to the idyllic Hodgdon Meadow. Best completed as a shuttle hike, this route connects the Tuolumne Grove Trailhead with the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station. Parking lots are available at each trailhead. To make the trip using one car, park at the Tuolumne Grove Trailhead and make the 2.2-mile out-and-back to the sequoia grove.

Begin by padding through an old-growth forest of Douglas firs, sugar pines, incense cedar and white firs. With North Crane Creek weaving through the woods to your left, wander downhill at a gentle grade until reaching the grove’s southern terminus at mile 1. Marked by an interpretive panel, the grove’s southernmost sequoia soars unmistakably to the left of the trail. Follow signs to the oft-photographed Tunnel Tree, which was bored through in the early 20th century so that tourists could pass through on stagecoach.

Continue heading north to visit the grove’s 20-something sequoias, gaining more seclusion while pushing deeper into the forest. After passing Tuolumne’s northern border and descending further down trail, the crowds will virtually disappear, leaving you alone on a shady, tree-shrouded old road. After crossing North Crane Creek and Hazel Green Creek, the mildly-graded trail approaches Hodgdon Meadow. Bordered by evergreens and dotted with wind-teased grasses and pockets of wildflowers, the small but open-skied Hodgdon provides a welcome respite from the cool woods. Hike along the meadow’s eastern edge to reach your car at the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station. Make the 8.8-mile return trip to the Tuolumne Grove trailhead by driving south on Big Oak Flat Road.

PLAN IT
GUIDEBOOK AND MAP The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite National Park, 6th Edition ($12.95, yosemitegifts.com). Consult the time-tested authority on Yosemite, or plan other trips in the park using BACKPACKER’s Destination’s page (backpacker.com/destinations/category/206). Get around the park using Yosemite’s free shuttle service (nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/valleyshuttle.pdf).

FEES/PERMITS To enter park: $20 per car, $10 per pedestrian/ bicyclist. Pass is valid for seven days. Backcountry permits are required for all overnight stays from May through October. Reservations for a permit can be obtained no earlier than 24 weeks before the first night of your stay. Permits cost $5 per reservation and $5 per person in the party. Depending on availability, permits can also be obtained at the wilderness center on the day of your trip.

CONTACT Call the Wilderness Permit Office at (209) 372-0740; nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm

CONDITIONS Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120) is closed between October and May. Water is available along the trail at mile 2.8, mile 3.8, mile 5.4 (seasonal), mile 7.9, mile 11.7, mile 13, and mile 14.4.

GPS DATA Download tracks and waypoints, print or order custom topos, from the menu on the left.

LOCAL LINKS
GAS
LEE VINING: CHEVRON
51557 Highway 395
Lee Vining, CA 93541
(760) 647-6330
GROVELAND: CLAIM JUMPER OUTPOST
17586 Highway 120
Groveland-Big Oak Flat, CA 95305
(209) 962-7153

GEAR
MAMMOTH MOUNTAINEERING SUPPLY
3189 Main St.
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
(888) 395-3951

GROCERIES
EL PORTAL: EL PORTAL MARKET
10913 Highway 140
El Portal, CA 95318
(209) 379-2700
MAMMOTH LAKES: VONS
481 Old Mammoth Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA
(760) 934-4536

RESTAURANTS
MAMMOTH LAKES: ANGEL’S RESTAURANT
20 Sierra Blvd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
(760) 934-7427

CURRY VILLAGE: DEGNAN’S DELI
9015 Village Dr.
Curry Village, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
(290) 372-8454
LEE VINING: NICELY’S RESTAURANT
Highway 395 and 4th St.
Lee Vining, CA 93541
(760) 647-6477

GROVELAND: CAFÉ CHARLOTTE
18736 Main St.
Groveland, CA 95321
(209) 962-6455

-Text: Brian Beer. Map and photographs: Jeff Chow

To Trailhead

From Groveland, follow CA 120 E for 33.5 miles. Turn left as CA 120 becomes Tioga Pass Road. Parking and trailhead are on left side of road in 0.5 mile.

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