This enjoyable walk through lush woodland leads to the edge of an old-growth sequoia grove. There aren't any sequoias along the way, and at the end of the trail only see a dozen or so of the big trees are visible, but the attractiveness of the woods makes it a worthwhile walk nonetheless. The trail is a great sampling of Sierra woodland scenery, with two burbling creeks, a nice view, pleasant pine woods, and some huge trees, all in a short, easy walk.
Here's the trailhead location in Google Maps.
The trail starts from the group camp area of Dorst Campground. In the summer it's possible to drive into the campground and park a few yards down the road, near the amphitheater. After Labor Day, it's necessary to park on the Generals Highway and walk a mile dowhill through the campground to reach the trailhead.
The trail descends for a bit and skirts a small meadow before beginning a slight climb. Crossing a small creek, the trail switchbacks up a low hill. At the top there's a fine view from a granite outcropping. Straight ahead is a small valley with your destination, a conifer-clad ridge, on the other side. Although it doesn't look like it, you won't have to descend to reach that ridge.
The trail contours along the hillside, eventually reaching a surprisingly lush little creek valley. This area looks more like a coast redwood forest than a typical sequoia forest. Step over the burbling creek and continue along the hillside.
The trail enters Muir Grove at a shallow saddle along the ridgetop. Rounding a corner, a truly mammoth sequoia appears to your left. It looks a little like the General Sherman tree but without the signs or fences or parking lots.
Just past the big tree is a group of several smaller, but still pretty impressive, red-barked sequoias growing out of a surprisingly plush carpet of lupins. In July the abundant purple lupin blooms add extra color to the grove. The trail passes through the group of trees, turns right, and climbs a few yards up the hillside before petering out among a few more trees. The grove is ideally situated to catch the rays of the setting sun and with its soft hues of green, red, and purple is especially scenic in the late afternoon.
The grove continues down the hillside from the saddle, but there's no trail in that direction. Turn back and return the way you came.
© 2011 David Baselt