Mary West: Exploring Placer Big Trees
The Big Trees Nature Trail is a 1/2-mile loop through the northernmost grove of giant sequoias. The Big Trees Picnic Area is located near the trailhead. The trail is open for hiking only — no equestrian, bicycle or motorized use is allowed.
This short hike — or I should say, two hikes that can easily be done in an hour and a half — is more about the history and uniqueness of this park than for exercise. If you’re going to Placer Big Trees, it’s to see the northernmost giant sequoia grove.
Placer Big Trees Grove is also the smallest grove of giant sequoias with six living trees. There are three grouped together in their teenage years 500 to 700 years old and a couple of individual trees. And frankly, two of the most impressive trees are on the ground. They’ve been down since the 1860s following a storm.
Although the hike is short, the drive to get there will take you some time but it’s worth it for a beautiful drive 25 miles east of Foresthill on Mosquito Ridge Road.
The picnic and day use area have two trails, an inner and outer trail around the giant sequoias. The inner trail is only 0.4 miles long, the Forest View Trail is 0.9 miles in length.
The park’s website tells you that the Pershing Tree is the most impressive. And it is, of the live trees. The Roosevelt Tree that’s been laying on the ground since 1861 is, I think, the most impressive tree in the park.
The fact that it’s still hard as iron after all these years is impressive in and of itself and its size is hard to capture in a single photo.
To get there take interstate 80 East to the Foresthill exit. Take Foresthill Road to Mosquito Ridge Road, turn right. Take Mosquito Ridge Road 25 miles east of Foresthill to the entrance to the Placer Big Trees picnic area on your right.
An interpretive brochure is available to make your self-guided tour more enjoyable.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram
As the 1970s ended, I began classes at Golden Gate Seminary as a less-than-serious student.
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