While Mariposa Grove is the most spectacular of the bunch, Yosemite National Park also sports two other small groves of giant sequoias, the world’s largest trees. Tuolumne Grove near Crane Flat receives a steady stream of visitors, but the lesser-visited Merced Grove is arguably more impressive. To reach this stand of towering giants, hikers descend about 500 feet in elevation from Big Oak Flat Road to the Moss Creek drainage, ending at an old cabin at 1.6 miles set amid the epic trees.
Commensurate with its relative popularity, the Merced Grove Trailhead has a very small parking lot situated off Big Oak Flat Road, between Hodgdon Meadow and Crane Flat in the western reaches of Yosemite National Park. There are restrooms and bear lockers at the trailhead. From the parking area, follow the wide track as it treads south and then west, skirting a burned area on the left, charred by one of the area’s many recent wildfires. After 6/10 mile of mostly level walking, hikers reach a signed junction, with a smaller track bearing left.
Take this turn and follow the onward trail as it begins a steady descent, skirting a dry ravine on the left. At about one mile, the initial gully leads to a larger drainage, where hikers can hear, and then see, Moss Creek. Still, the first giant sequoias do not come into view until about 1.4 miles, when the trail makes a left-hand bend to drop to near creek level.
An initial grove of modestly large sequoias is nonetheless very impressive due to the high concentration of these dazzling, orange-hued trees. Just beyond, as the trail continues southward, hikers pass between two of the silent sentinels—look but don’t touch!—and skirts a third on the left.
Finally, at 1.6 miles, the trail passes two more behemoths on the left, with an old park ranger patrol cabin off to the right. Although a few other sequoias are visible further south, this is the turnaround point for the moderately-difficult hike. (Note: The onward trail continues south to the park boundary.) Return the way you came, completing a 3.2-mile journey that should take 1.5-3 hours depending on pace.