Hugging Giant Trees

The California Tunnel Tree is the last living tree standing in Yosemite National Park with a tunnel cut through it. The tunnel was cut in 1895 to allow coaches to pass through it, although they could have gone around it. The tunnel was mainly a marketing scheme to attract visitors to the grove. Tunnels are no longer cut into trees, because it weakens the tree. The Wawona Tunnel Tree fell in 1969.

In September 2012, my husband and I made a pilgrimage to Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park in California to see the giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), the biggest trees in the world. This blog post is my virtual tree hug.

Standing among the massive sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove, I could easily understand how this forest became the inspiration for the national park system.  Mariposa Grove, near the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park, contains about 500 mature sequoia trees. Giant sequoias are thought to be the largest living things on Earth and are among the oldest, too, some possibly older than 3,000 years.

The Bachelor and Three Graces: Four sequoia trees, three of them growing very close together, with the “shy” bachelor standing a little apart from the girls. Their roots are so intertwined that if one falls, they would all likely crash down.

Only some living specimens of the ancient bristlecone pine are older than the sequoia.  Some bristlecone pines, found in the mountains east of Yosemite and at Great Basin National Park in Nevada, are more than 4,600 years old.

Sounds as if I need to plan a trip to see the bristlecone pines, too.  I also need to re-visit the coastal redwoods.  The tallest tree in the world is the Hyperion, a coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) along the coast of northern California.

I took a lot of photographs of the giant sequoia, but my photographs can’t convey the majesty of these awesome giants. You must visit Yosemite to experience the sequoia yourself! (But humor me and look at my photographs anyway.)

There are three named giant sequoia groves in Yosemite.  South of Yosemite, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park also contain massive sequoia trees.

Tuolumne Grove is one of three named giant sequoia groves in Yosemite National Park.

In the midst of the U.S. Civil War in the early 1860s, many people, concerned about commercial activities in the Yosemite region, pushed the U.S. federal government for protection of the area. The 38th United States Congress passed a park bill, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864, creating the Yosemite Grant. This is the first time the U.S. federal government had set aside park land specifically for preservation and public use, setting a precedent for the 1872 creation of Yellowstone as the first national park.

The small egg shaped and egg-sized pine cone at the front left belongs to the Giant Sequoia, the largest living entity on earth. The long pine cone comes from a Sugar Pine, which produces the longest pine cones in the world. The three round pine cones in the back may be cones from the Jeffrey Pine. These pine cones are all from northern California.

Naturalist John Muir and others lobbied Congress for the Act that created Yosemite National Park on October 1, 1890. The State of California retained Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. Muir and his Sierra Club continued to lobby the government to unify Yosemite National Park to better protect the area from grazing and logging.

“In May 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt camped with Muir near Glacier Point for three days. On that trip, Muir convinced Roosevelt to take control of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove away from California and return it to the federal government. In 1906, Roosevelt signed a bill that did precisely that,” according to a Wikipedia account.

Mariposa Grove of Sequoias, including Named Trees.

Giant Sequoias Facts.

National Park Service Brochure of Mariposa Grove.

About Yosemite National Park.


The Giant Sequoia named Grizzly Giant is estimated to be from 1,900 to 2,400 years old and is the oldest tree in the grove. It has a volume of 34,010 cubic feet and is thought to be the 25th largest tree in the world.

Sap oozes in the giant sequoia tree known as the California Tunnel Tree in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. The bark of the giant sequoia is nearly resistant to fire, because the sap is water-based and non-resinous. The sap contains a chemical called tannic acid, which protects the tree from fire, insects and bacteria.

The Faithful Couple are two giant sequoia that grew so close together that their trunks have fused together at the base, which is an extremely rare occurrence.

The Massachusetts tree, one of the most famous trees in Mariposa Grove, fell in 1927. Tannic acid in the wood preserves the tree from decay, which is also why sequoia was such a popular logging wood.

A photograph can’t convey the massiveness of these giant sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park.

Shuttles bring tourists to visit Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.

Numerous fires throughout the decades nearly severed the trunk of the Clothespin Tree, creating a space in it large enough for a pick-up truck to drive through.

Here’s a collage of some of my Yosemite National Park photographs.


Filed under Conservation, Travel

13 responses to “Hugging Giant Trees

  1. chrisknox155

    Reblogged this on Great blogs.


  2. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve lived in California for what seems like forever and have never been to Yosemite. We were just in Merced last weekend for a friend’s birthday and she invited us to come back to visit Yosemite. It’s one of those MUST SEE places that’s on my list of things to do before I die.


  3. Great hug! I’ve heard of all these, but good to read some personal experience, and photos taken by someone I know 🙂 who has actually gone there and not from a magazine or online source. What a wonderful trip you’ve taken, Cathy. I’ll be sure to visit those links you’ve provided us. And hey, since I’ve become a birder in recent months, did you notice what kinds of birds were there?


  4. I’ve never been to Yosemite, either, but thanks to your blog I now feel that I have! I’ve been to the Redwood forests in Northern California, though, and they are awesome. Your photographs are very beautiful.

    Trees can be hard to shoot. Something that looks so beautiful to our eyes may not translate well in a photograph. A book I read said to try to look for a tree isolated from the rest, but that can be hard to do in a Redwood forest! 🙂

    We also looked for birds. Under the canopy sunlight has a hard time clawing its way to the floor and sounds are muted. It’s almost like being in a cathedral. We did manage a few glimpses of tiny birds (and we’d hear them call) but they were so flighty we could never get a photo and we’re not even sure what they were. Some kind of super tiny songbird.


  5. They are incredibly majestic, aren’t they? I haven’t been to Yosemite in years but need to take the kids.


  6. Probably right about the cone being Jeffrey Pine. Pretty sure that Ponderosa Pine are down there too, but don’t think that’s a Pondy cone.

    Looks like you had lovely weather.


  7. Another wonderful travel post Cathy with more of your stunning images. One of the challenges of being away for these past few months on travel assignments, and without regular internet connections, has been not being able to follow some of my most favorite bloggers. Yours is definitely one of those for me and it’s a joy to start catching up. Thank you for these great posts and my best wishes to you for a very happy New Year. Rick


  8. elissestuart

    I have just finished scrapbooking our family trip to Grand Canyon / Zion / Yosemite and Mono Lake….from 2009! LOL
    Wonderful photo card.


  9. Erik Von Norden

    Can I suggest you visit Big Basin, South of San Francisco? It has giant redwoods that are almost as impressive, but for some reason this place seems to get much less spotlight.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fantastic trees, fantastic photos… As we say in our other official language, chapeau!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Catherine,
    Just a few2 words: We’ve installed a new programme in order to keep track of things. This program is monotoring tha base of followers (among other things) and will automatically delete profiles that haven’t been showing activity over tha last three months, and – I notice there is suddenly a red flag on your profile? Which means that you haven’t been dropping in on us for quite some time?

    Thjere is by now nearly 7 000 ‘full screenh pictures’ from Norway displayed.
    You have proibably only seen a fraction, but if these are of no intrerest to you, you don’t haver to do anything. The profile wwil at some point be deleted quite automatically, but if you on the other hand want to stay on, the best solution is to visit our blog and show sign of life 🙂 Then you’ll last a while longer!

    Liked by 1 person

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