Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Narrated by Russ Christoff

Traveling four miles northeast of Arnold, I entered giant sequoia country. Years ago, the area now known as Calaveras Big Trees State Park, became world famous as news of the enormous Redwoods found here began to spread.

Thanks to the financial help given by the Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks, Calaveras Big Trees is now protected so that it may be enjoyed by future generations.

A visitor center located near the main entrance to the park is a place to start before a hike.

Inside you'll find information on trails, and see some exhibits that will enhance your experience during your stay.

The Ranger Craig took me to various points of interest around the 6,000 acre state park.

Craig, what makes the sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park more unique than the Redwoods in other parts of California?

RANGER CRAIG:

The sequoias here, and this type, are the largest living things on the planet. The sequoias you will find along the coast are the tallest and are pretty massive, but these just in general bulk, are the largest. What makes the sequoias here at Calaveras Big Trees more special than other sequoias in the Sierras, is that they were discovered here.

This is the location that around the world became famous for the place to see big trees. Later on, they were discovered further down south in Yosemite and Sequoia National Park's area, but this is where they were first seen and first became famous.

RUSS CHRISTOFF:

What's the largest tree that you have here?

RANGER CRAIG:

Probably about 600 tons in weight, roughly around 250 feet tall, maybe about 30 feet in diameter and about 2,500 years old. It's very difficult to estimate the exact weight. We can't put them on a scale, etc., but we have some pretty massive living things here.

RUSS CHRISTOFF:

Now one other thing, tell me about this tree? This particular tree. We are looking at the root system, right?

RANGER CRAIG:

There are extensive root systems on the giant sequoias that don't go very deep as you can see. This is kind of the end of the roots, but they do go out quite a ways, up to an acre away from the tree and absorb a lot of water. This particular tree is known as one of the sentinels. It's no longer standing up. It fell down about 1919, but the way to come into the park prior to that was between two giant sequoias. It was your introduction into the park land.

RUSS CHRISTOFF:

Now this morning we hiked in to see a rather large tree and it was a bit of a hike.

RANGER CRAIG:

Yes, there are two groves. We went to the south grove that is a little more natural but a little more of a hike, up to about five miles to see the largest tree in the park. But where we are at the north grove, it's a very easy walk, less than a mile, nice and flat and you can see several very large trees here as well.

RUSS CHRISTOFF:

We crossed a bridge that had a beautiful waterfall, it looked like rafting water.

RANGER CRAIG:

That's the Stanislaus River and indeed, there is white water rafting in the summer time and spring. It's quite exciting. It's one of the destination spots for white water rafters.

RUSS CHRISTOFF:

Tell me a little bit about the camping facilities?

RANGER CRAIG:

We have two campgrounds. We're standing near the north grove campground which is near the north grove of the giant sequoias, and our Campfire Visitor's Center. We have another campground which is about four miles further into the park called Oak Hollow Campground. It's away from the big trees but it's a nice secluded, quiet place down there. They are available for reservation, which we highly recommend in the summer time, because this is a very popular park and can be reserved through our reservation system.

RUSS CHRISTOFF:

Craig you know this park well because you've spent a few years here. What is the miracle here?

RANGER CRAIG:

This place is special to me because the history here alerted the world to the fact that we need to save these giant sequoias, that there is something really impressive here. Something that was discovered, and not even believed when they were first discovered because they were so huge. No one would consider that trees could actually be that big. And yet, here they are, massive sequoias 30 feet across, 250 feet tall. A wonder of the world.