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The Placer County Big Trees Grove

Big Trees Grove
Tahoe National Forest

December 2017

We have traveled far for specific trails, but I don't think we've ever driven so far off any beaten path as we did to reach the trailhead for the Big Trees Grove in Tahoe National Forest. After leaving tiny Foresthill, we drove 25 miles on a beautiful two lane road that zig and zagged as it climbed and descended many ridges of the Sierra-Nevada foothills. There was not a single straight or flat section for the entire length. Also, you do not pass a single house, business, or really anything other than trees and sweeping views. I didn't keep track of how many cars we saw on this part of the drive to the trailhead, but I'm confident it would have been far less than five.

Not surprisingly, we were the only car in the parking lot at the trail head. My Garmin told us our elevation was just under 5,600 feet above sea level. The temperature was 40F and there was a pretty good wind whipping through the forest. The sign for the trail was missing, but it was fairly obvious and we started our lollipop hike down the ridge. The trail was littered with large pine cones which are not a friend to the person pushing the Hippocampe. However, Kellisa loves these little annoying obstacles because she either bounces over them or lunges forward a little if they lock up a wheel.

The highlight of the trail is of course, the big trees. There are six giant sequoias in this small grove far from everything, including other giant sequoias. In fact, these six trees represent many anomalies: smallest grove, northern most grove, and most isolated grove. If you count the two giant sequoias that fell in 1861, the grove actually has eight trees. 

We enjoyed our hike and found it well worth the effort to reach this remote trailhead. The trail was wide enough for Kellisa's chair and we enjoyed the challenge of the elevation changes we found on most of the trail. There were a few rocky areas in addition to the pine cones, but the trail was mostly friendly to us. Despite the grove's desolation, it was only a little more than an hour from our home just outside of Sacramento. On our way out, we couldn't resist going off-pavement on a few forest roads. Kellisa loved the "bumpy" as she bounced up and down and around in her seat.

I made a note to count the cars on our 25 mile drive back to Foresthill and that number would be one. I pulled off at large parking area to give Kellisa some water through her g-tube and one car passed us from behind. This was the only car we saw on this Saturday afternoon and if I didn't stop, we probably wouldn't have even seen the one. Kellisa was hungry by the time we reached Foresthill and I stopped at a gas station to get her a Clif Bar. As I was getting out of the Pilot, a kind woman asked if I knew that my "bumper was hanging off?" No, I didn't know and was surprised since I didn't hear anything dragging while driving. Maybe the music was a little loud?

Thankfully, it wasn't my bumper, it was just the skid plate that protects the engine. I wasn't thrilled, but I was able to crawl under the car and kind of "pop" it back in place. It held the rest of the way home and I'm hoping it's mostly fixed, but will look at it closer in the near future. A small price to pay for an amazing afternoon out with Kellisa.

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