by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved
Calaveras Big Trees
Brochure of Calaveras Big Trees State Park (SP) in California. Published by California Department of Parks and Recreation.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park Our Mission The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. It is unlikely that anyone could look upon the Sequoiadendron giganteum and not feel a sense of awe California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (209) 795-2334. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov SaveTheRedwoods.org/csp Calaveras Big Trees State Park 1170 East Highway 4, Arnold, CA 95223 (209) 795-2334 www.parks.ca.gov/calaverasbigtrees © 2004 California State Parks (Rev. 2016) and reverence. T hree miles north of Arnold off Highway 4, the colossal trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park stand in quiet testimony to prehistoric times. These massive relics, which can reach a height of 325 feet and a diameter of 33 feet, are descended from trees that were standing when dinosaurs roamed Earth and birds, mammals, and flowering plants began to appear. Some of today’s trees are thought to be as old as 2,000 years. Located at the mid-elevation level of the western Sierra Nevada, Calaveras Big Trees State Park is a prime example of a mixed conifer forest in the yellow pine belt. Giant sequoias dominate ponderosa pines, sugar pines, incense cedars, and white fir. The Pacific dogwood displays white blossoms in the spring. Wildflowers along the Lava Bluffs Trail include leopard lily, Hartweg’s iris, crimson columbine, monkey-flowers, harvest brodiaea, wild hyacinth, and lupine. NATIVE PEOPLE Though some native groups saw the trees as sacred and untouchable, the Miwok respected them and made careful use of them. These skilled fishermen, trappers, and hunters built their seasonal villages alongside the flourishing rivers of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The acorns and other seeds the Miwok harvested in the fall were a vital part of their diet. Their way of life was rich in ceremony and social activity, including the important harvesting and grinding of the fall acorn crop. Throughout this area, large granite outcroppings and boulders with groups of mortar holes bear witness to the Miwok method of grinding seeds and acorns. Today, approximately 3,500 Miwok descendants live in the area. PARK HISTORY In the spring of 1852, Augustus T. Dowd was tracking a wounded grizzly bear through unfamiliar territory when he came upon a forest of enormous trees. The giant sequoia that first caught his attention was the largest in what is now the Calaveras North Grove. At first, Dowd’s description of what he had seen was considered a “tall tale” until he led a group of men to the grove. Word of the giant sequoia grove’s existence spread rapidly. Newspapers picked up the story, bringing curious visitors and entrepreneurs eager to make their fortunes from naive spectators. Pioneer Cabin Tree The Discovery Tree that had earlier stopped Dowd in his tracks was the first casualty in the rush to exploit the giant sequoias. It took five men 22 days to cut it down. Sections of bark and a portion of its trunk were shipped to San Francisco to be placed on display. Later it was sent around Cape Horn to New York City, where it was considered a “humbug” by many skeptics. The financially unsuccessful showing closed, and while the tree’s artifacts were awaiting shipment to Paris, a fire destroyed the entire exhibit. The Discovery Tree’s stump remains in the North Grove. Further depredations continued in the North Grove. A magnificent tree named the “Mother of the Forest” was stripped of nearly 60 tons of its bark to a height of 116 feet. The bark was sent to the East Coast and abroad for exhibition. In 1861 the Mammoth Grove Hotel was built in the North Grove. The resort hotel operated until 1943, when it was destroyed by a fire. THE TREES Two redwood types are native to California — the coast redwood along the northern and central coast, and the giant sequoia in scattered locations along the Sierra Nevada western slope. Conservationist John Muir declared that these giants, survivors of the Ice Age and the ravages of time, were “rapidly vanishing before the fire and steel of man. . . . ” In 1878, after a protracted ownership battle was settled, the Calaveras property was sold at public auction. The winning bid, from James L. Sperry, was $15,000. In 1900 Mr. Sperry sold out to lumberman Robert Whiteside, raising great public protest. Whiteside declined offers from federal legislators hoping to establish a national park at Calaveras. The struggle to acquire and protect the groves stretched over the next three decades. Giant sequoia trees on the North Grove Trail During this time, the Calaveras Grove Association was formed. It was inspired by the Sierra Club and Save the Redwoods League, which were leading a movement to establish a system of California state parks. Widespread public concern for the trees was beginning to have a positive effect. THE NORTH GROVE In 1928 Californians voted to establish a state park system through a bond act. Private donors supporting the acquisition of the North Grove included John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Mrs. William H. Crocker. The rest of the funding came from the Calaveras Grove Association and the Save the Redwoods League. At last, in 1931, the North Grove came under the protection of the State of California. Now all that was left was to find a way to acquire the South Grove. THE SOUTH GROVE Unfortunately, the world was in the throes of the Great Depression in 1931. Newton B. Drury, Land Acquisition Officer for the then California Division of Beaches and Parks, decided against the acquisition, citing “the condition of the state park bond fund. . . and the difficulty in raising private gifts.” Another 23 years elapsed before the South Grove was acquired. These years were rocked by two wars, with on-again /off-again negotiations with the Pickering Lumber Company, revival of the defunct Calaveras Grove Association, and a massive grassroots fundraising campaign to preserve the quality of this untouched forest. Finally, on April 16, 1954, the Calaveras South Grove became part of Calaveras Big Trees State Park. RECREATION Camping and Cabins — The North Grove Campground has more than 70 sites; the Oak Hollow Campground has more than 50. Both can accommodate tents and RVs up to 30 feet. Campsites have fire rings and picnic tables; piped water, flush toilets, and pay showers are nearby. Four rental cabins each have two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, and private full bath. For camping or cabin reservations, visit www.parks.ca.gov/calaverasbigtrees or call (800) 444-7275. Trails — The North Grove has a level, 1.5-mile self-guided trail. The .13-mile Three Senses Trail allows visitors to experience the feel, smell, and sounds of this magnificent forest. The five-mile South Grove Trail travels along Big Trees Creek and passes the park’s A park Junior Ranger learns about wildlife by handling a coyote skin. two largest trees — the Agassiz Tree and the Palace Hotel Tree. The fairly strenuous fourmile River Canyon Trail runs between the North Grove and the Stanislaus River. Along the Lava Bluffs Trail, hikers can view the scenic North Fork of the river. Picnicking — Designated picnic areas are located alongside the Stanislaus River, in the North Grove, Oak Leaf Spring, and Beaver Creek areas. Fishing — The Stanislaus River and Beaver Creek offer good fishing, particularly for rainbow trout. A valid California fishing license is required for anglers 16 and over. Wildlife — Opportunities for wildlife observation are abundant in the park. Bird species include pileated woodpeckers, northern flickers, Steller’s jays, and darkeyed juncos. Raccoons, foxes, porcupines, chipmunks, chickarees, and flying squirrels are among the native animals. Black bears, bobcats, and coyotes are sometimes seen. ACCESSIBLE FEATURES Campsites and restrooms with showers at the North Grove Campground are accessible. Some visitors may need help with sloped terrain. One campsite and the restroom with showers at the Oak Hollow Campground and one two-bedroom cabin are accessible. There are wheelchair seating spaces and an assistive listening system at the Campfire Center. Parking and exhibits at the Visitor Center are accessible. The Three Senses Trail has a .13-mile ropeguided route with Braille text included. A restroom with adjacent parking near the warming hut off North Grove parking lot, Big Trees, North Grove, and Beaver Creek Trails, and the River Picnic Area are all accessible. Accessibility is continually improving. For current details, visit http: //access.parks.ca.gov. PLEASE REMEMBER • Do not feed the bears and other wildlife; secure all food and scented items in the bear-resistant lockers day and night when not in use. • Diving is not permitted anywhere in the park; lifeguards are not available. • Stay on trails to protect the fragile sequoia root systems. • All natural and cultural features in the park are protected by law and must not be disturbed nor removed. • Dogs are allowed only in campgrounds and on unpaved roads; dogs must be on a six-foot-maximum leash. Except for service animals, dogs are not permitted on trails. NEARBY STATE PARKS • Columbia State Historic Park 11255 Jackson Street, Columbia 95310 (209) 588-9128 • Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park 14881 Pine Grove-Volcano Road Pine Grove 95665 (209) 296-7488 • Railtown 1897 State Historic Park on 5th Avenue, off Hwy. 108 Jamestown 95327 (209) 984-3953 The Stanislaus River 00 44 SNF 4000 0 4600 Oak Leaf Spring Picnic Area 46 00 3800 3800 4800 48 00 00 54 00 4600 48 00 South s C C P R E S E RV E 4600 6 see detail map at left 48 South Grove 00 50 4600 99 8 0 5000 42 00 34 00 00 40 00 42 Not to Scale 3800 00 40 Indian Grinding Rock SHP S T AT E Jackson 88 42 00 Stockton 5 4800 30 Km 99 Manteca 0120 460 88 El Dorado NF Volcano Calaveras Big Trees SP 00 46 Arnold 49 Jamestown Knights Ferry 4800 4 Stanislaus NF 108 Columbia SHP Sonora Railtown 1897 SHP Groveland 49 00 REFUGE 124 4400 20 Mi 20 44 4200 38 00 4400 3000 GAME 4800 10 Murphys Lockeford 00 Angels Camp 44 88 00 TUOLUMNE 00 34 0 10 Lodi 44 00 40 49 16 Elk Grove 5200 5000 9 Kit Carson Placerville 0 4800 to Sacramento 7 50 Folsom Lake 50 460 3600 Roseville 80 5000 4400 5200 k ree 10 4800 4800 4400 Trail Grove 00 Tre e GROVE 4600 Palace Hotel Tree il 3200 00 0 4200 ay l o ri a m 3400 400 00 ek 5400 N AT U R A L ve re s 5000 4600 Kansas Group 40 ee Tr 5000 00 44 Big 4800 Big r Beav e 4400 0 g 4000 Smith W. 29 11 Tra 36 Grove 33 32 Gro ey l ad Br ek SOUTH ail Tr 00 42 Agassiz Tree 00 4000 eek 31 P 30 4000 00 52 C A L AV E R A S Beaver Beaver Creek Creek Accessible Trail Picnic Area South Grove Trailhead SNF uth P AR K 00 Bi r kw us nisla Sta C AL A T UO E RA VE M N LU Cr S T AT E 44 So C AL AVE R AS BI G T R E E S Cre lter Wa 00 36 46 il 0 380 0 520 Me 38 00 S C OU C O UN N T Y TY 4200 00 00 44 40 00 5 5000 Pa 36 McKays Reservoir 4200 − River 5600 Tra For k 40 00 00 00 SNF 0 540 4 3 2 La va 46 00 44 4200 44 Trees ve 38 00 00 (SNF) North To Beaver Creek & Parking 00 4800 00 46 40 ffs South Grove Showers Viewpoint 5200 3600 Blu NATIONAL FOREST Fire Road 52 RV Sanitation Station 00 50 P STANISLAUS 4200 Restrooms 00 REFUGE 00 P 44 00 42 00 48 GAME 50 P River Picnic Area 14 This park is supported in part through a nonprofit organization. 0 20 For more information, contact: 4 Calaveras Big Trees Association P.O. Box 1196, Arnold, CA 95223 (209) 795-3840 www.bigtrees.org Ranger Station STATE Tr ail on ny Ca Riv 4200 Picnic Area 00 50 TUOLUMNE 380 42 00 er 12 Parking 520 0 13 28 Tra il 4600 44 00 P 00 00 44 00 E N SNF C 00 on 4 46 M Locked Gate 38 ny 00 48 S Picnic Area: Group Not to Scale C 27 Ca 15 A O Environmental Campsites Campground: Group 48 er Downed Tree North Grove 0 Riv Scenic Overlook g 40 00 4 00 46 C Campground 4800 46 0 P SNF 0 40 A LA VE TU OL R U te r 23 4800 to Arnold, Sacramento 0 0 42 Oak Hollow Campground SNF Big 26 40 00 k orial ay Tree ee em rkw North Grove Campground 25 Cr M . see detail map at right W al 0 Visitor Center 21 Park Entrance th ok l o4600 4400 Smi U NT UN Y TY 24 Ov e r Campfire Center Trail to Campsites Pa 480 20 North Grove W 22 00 48 00 16 g 48 4200 Bi Sentinel Tree Cabins 50 4400 to Campsites Bridge Old Bachelor 00 Three Empire Senses Tree Trail ve Gro Jack Knight Memorial Hall 5000 O Tre e 5200 48 00 Group 19 Campground 00 Bi ek 5000 Big Trees/Tree Clusters 40 Three Graces Tre e 4400 Discovery Stump Accessible Trail Pioneer k 800 Cabin 3Tree ee Cr 4400 0 420 Cre 00 46 4400 North Visitor Center 17 Gr o 500 4600 18 5000 4000 Warming Hut Accessible Feature 00 Bi 50 00 5200 4400 Trail Mother and Son g 1 4800 s Unpaved Road 54 e Tre Abraham Lincoln 50 to park exit 1.5 Kilometers Tr ail 48 00 1 Mile 0.75 1.0 ay 42 00 0.5 0.5 kw 48 00 0.25 0 r l Pa 42 00 0 00 48 ria mith Me mo r W. S Walte 40 0 to Group Camp and cabins 4600 52 00 Paved Road 0 48 00 46 00 to South Grove 4 Legend Motherof-the-Forest Fatherof-the-Forest 4400 State Park 4600 4 52 00 00 44 Calaveras Big Trees 48 00 4000 5000 4200 4800 00 4800 5000 SNF 5000 48 4600 5200 00 54 to Camp Connell, Markleeville Dorrington © 2003 California State Parks (Rev. 2016) 480 0