Muir Grove is a wilderness old-growth grove in pristine condition. It’s reached by a two-mile hike (each way), giving it a superbly quiet, remote feel that you just don’t get at Grant Grove or the Giant Forest.
The number of visitors to the grove have been increasing over the past few years, but it’s still the least-visited of all the groves along the General’s Highway; at peak times you might see a group every 5 or 10 minutes on the trail. If you go in the morning there’s a decent chance that you’ll have the grove to yourself.
There’s only a few hundred yards of trail through the old-growth sequoias, but a clear but unofficial trail extends an additional third of a mile along the ridge, making a visit to the grove much more satisfying. The part of the grove that can be seen from the trail has an unusually high concentration of large sequoias and sequoia clusters, set in exceptionally attractive woodland.
The two-mile trail to the grove doesn’t have any sequoias but is very enjoyable in its own right. It runs through unusually lush and attractive woodland and has 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.
In the summer, park in the large amphitheater parking lot at the end of the main road through Dorst Creek Campground. During September, the bottom half of the campground is closed but you can park in the walk-in camping area, along the main road. At other times of year you may have to park on the Generals Highway, adding about a mile each way to the hike.
The official trailhead is next to Dorst Creek’s group site B, but it makes more sense to start from the cutoff trail near group camp E, a few yards to the south.
The trail to the grove doesn’t have any sequoias, but it runs through unusually lush, attractive woodland and is very enjoyable.
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. Across a small valley the edge of Muir Grove is clearly visible, a conifer-clad ridge with the rounded tops of old-growth sequoias poking above the other trees. 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 ring of 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 cluster of big trees. Most people seem to stop at this point, as the trail gets narrower, but it continues downhill a few yards further into the grove, where there’s a second ring of big sequoias. 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.
Return to the large cluster in the saddle and look for a faint unofficial trail that climbs along the ridgetop. The trail becomes clearer after a few yards and continues along the ridgetop until it leaves the grove and reaches an rock outcropping. The sequoias aren’t quite as dense in this area but there are still some pretty nice trees.
Turn back and return the way you came.
© 2011, 2019 David Baselt