Friday, July 02, 2010

Redwood Canyon

On one of my stops at the Kings Canyon Visitors Center (in the western side, near Grant Grove), I asked the Ranger on duty if he had any favorite day hikes. He suggested Redwood Canyon saying that there was a 2-mile dirt road down to the trailhead without providing any other details besides asking if I had a large RV (and I didn't think to ask either).

So, the next morning I ventured a few miles south to the turnoff to Redwood Canyon. Once beyond the turnoff and around the first curve, there is no turning back! The narrow, steep, winding dirt road was carved out of the side of the canyon. There were several places wide enough for two cars to pass by each other but most of the 2-mile road (using the term loosely) was wide enough for just one vehicle.

I crossed my fingers and said a little prayer that I would not meet any vehicles coming up while I was going down! The dust flew up behind the rear wheels quickly covering the back windshield so that nothing could be seen from the rear. After a 25-minute harrowing drive, I made it safely to the parking lot, which was nearly full (and all of the vehicles had dust covering their rear windows).

The trailhead was easy to find. Going by what the Ranger had told me I took the trail to the right which gradually went up the ridge, through groves of “young” sequoia trees.

I have no idea what kind of pine tree the large cone belongs to but the cone is about 14 inches long. The three small cones belong to the Giant Sequoia. The medium sized cone is about the size of a chicken egg. The largest trees in the world have the smallest cones! But within those cones are hidden several hundred seeds which are released during fires – they require the heat in order to open up. Pretty amazing.

Once on top of the ridge, it was an easy walk through open meadows and pretty vistas. That's Big Baldy across the valley.

Once on top of the ridge, it was an easy walk through open meadows and pretty vistas. That's Big Baldy across the valley.

The trail (a 7 mile loop) went down into the valley via a series of long, somewhat steep, switchbacks. It followed a river for a short distance then went uphill the last two miles to the parking lot. Portions of the hike were somewhat strenuous (especially the last two miles) but it was mostly a nice, easy, pleasant walk through the forest, which I enjoyed immensely. Even though there were a lot of people visiting the area and the parking lot was full, I saw only four people on the trail and that was on the final uphill trek.

Photographs taken June 19, 2010

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