California, Where We've Been

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Calaveras Big Trees State Park

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. – John Muir 


Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Naturalist John Muir called the Great Sequoias that grow in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park the “the noblest of the noble race.” They are the tallest of all the conifers in the world, reaching heights of more than 300 feet, with the tallest stretching to an unbelievable 325 feet.  

Once discovered in the mid-1800’s, several of these trees were subsequently destroyed in order to show off their magnificence to the people living in the eastern states. One of these trees was stripped of its bark and reassembled as a wonder of nature as part of an exhibit. Another, named Discovery Tree, was felled and a saloon and bowling alley were built on its fallen, ancient trunk. John Muir then recorded the words solidifying the destruction, “The vandals then danced upon the stump!” The felled tree measured 24 feet in diameter and was determined to be 1,244 years old at its demise.

In studying the trees, he continues to note of their unique nature, “The immensely strong, stately shafts are free of limbs for one hundred end fifty feet or so. The large limbs reach out with equal boldness a every direction, showing no weather side, and no other tree has foliage so densely massed, so finely molded in outline and so perfectly subordinate to an ideal type. 

The bark of the largest trees is from one to two feet thick, rich cinnamon brown, purplish on young trees, forming magnificent masses of color with the underbrush.”

     “Look! Nature is overflowing with the grandeur of God!” – John Muir

The North Grove trail makes a 1.5 mile loop through the base of the giants, but the second half of the trail was closed for maintenance while we were there.

The kids were in awe of the massive size of the trees. It proved a challenge to capture the full height of the tree in my camera lens. 

The Fallen Giant fell in 2017 after a tumultuous wind and rain storm. This tree was the original drive-thru tree. Its trunk had been hollowed out at the base to allow for cars and people to pass through. 

Glory Hole Recreation Area


We had it all to ourselves!

The camping sites at Glory Hole Recreation Area were virtually empty the entire time we were there. Skies were dark and the area was peaceful and quiet. 

We saw a few deer and birds wander around the area. Our site was #100. It was relatively flat on the pavement area, but there wasn’t enough room to provide a flat area for the stairs so we had to come up with another solution and it made for quite a chuckle.

We filled up with water at the entrance to the area, but due to the dump being closed (for at least a year according to the ranger), we had to dump at Tuttletown Recreation Area. It’s the sister site to Glory Hole. 


Clear northern sky at our position for Starlink. We had 5 bars with both Verizon and AT&T. 

It was so dark the Milky Way could be seen from our campsite. There was very little light pollution which made for the best conditions we could have hoped for for night time viewing.