Tourist magnet comes to mind when you realize that Redwood Mountain hosts the largest intact giant sequoia grove in the world.Featuring new growth and old, fire scared giants, native furs, and lush riparian habitats, this trail is a gem among the park, and remarkably a well-kept secret. The secret lies in the seasonal dirt road that leads to the parking lot and trailhead, which deters many who would visit, and leaves your hike often in beautiful solitude, and at worst: lightly populated.
This is a portion of a featured hike: Redwood Mountain Grove: Hart Trail & Sugar Bowl Trail Loops
. For a shorter (~7-mile) loop, connect with Redwood Creek Trail
From the trailhead, follow the left hand trail north until you reach the junction with the Redwood Mountain Trail (about 0.3 miles from the trailhead). Continue left (north) and proceed into the shade of the forest, and boulder hop across the first tributary which feeds the Redwood Creek and hike another 0.3 miles to the next tributary. Just across the stream is your first landmark: Redwood Cabin
, a hollowed out fallen sequoia that once was bookended with two rock fireplaces.
From the cabin, it's another quarter mile to the next stream crossing, before you start ascending out of the sequoias and towards your next destination: Hart Meadow
(1.9 miles from trailhead). Hart Meadow
is stunningly backdropped by the western face of Buena Vista peak and is a great place to stop for lunch or a snack and hear the trickling of Buena Vista creek and look out on the soft vantages of the meadow. Be careful when trying to get pictures, as your presence in the meadow can damage the soft grounds and delicate flora.
Continue on and descend back into the cover of the redwoods, and reach your next landmark: Fallen Tunnel Tree. You'll find this is aptly named, as the trail heads right through the core of the fallen sequoia. From here you'll descend until you reach the East Fork of the Redwood Creek (3 miles from trailhead) where the trail will soon turn sharply, and you'll come to one of the 20 largest sequoias: Hart Tree
From Hart Tree
, the trail descends into the forest, passing Fallen Goliath before eventually meeting up with the Redwood Creek Trail
. Backpackers can turn south and follow the creek downstream for great camping spots, or, if out for a day, turn north and follow the creek to where it will intersect the Sugar Bowl Loop. From here, you can follow the canyon upstream back to the trailhead.
You will find all sorts of mountain shrubbery, mixed pine forests, giant sequoias, ponderosa pines, manzanita, and oaks. Be sure to watch where the sequoia groves disappear which will remind you that these giants definitely require very specific conditions to grow and survive.