Calaveras Big Trees State Park Celebrates In Big Ways


Calaveras Big Trees Association Holiday Open House and Sale
November 21 & 22, 2009

(Big Trees State Park) —Calaveras Big Trees Association (CBTA) will hold its Annual Holiday Open House and Sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, and Sunday, November 22, 2009, at the Visitor Center at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Mention the Open House at the Park Entrance and receive a free half- hour pass to the park.

As a way of thanking the community for its ongoing support of the park, CBTA will discount nearly everything in the Visitor Center by 20 percent. Shop for unique holiday gifts for everyone on your list in a one-of-a-kind location. Refreshments will be served. Sale proceeds support the park’s interpretive programs.

Also, the Calaveras County Human Resources Council has designated the Visitor Center as a drop off point for its Annual Food Drive. CBTA invites visitors to bring a non-perishable food donation for Santa’s Express.

For further information, please call Tami at the Visitor Center at (209) 795-3840.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park preserves the North Grove of giant sequoias. This grove includes the "Discovery Tree," the first Sierra redwood noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. This area has been a major tourist attraction ever since and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California.

Over the years, other parcels of mixed conifer forests have been added to the park to bring the total area to approximately 6,500 acres.
The roadway beyond the North Grove that leads to the Stanislaus River and South Grove is closed from approximately mid-November to mid-April. Twelve campsites are kept open in the North Grove Campground all winter long, with additional sites becoming available as weather conditions permit.

In addition to the popular North Grove, the park features South Grove, a five mile hiking trip through a spectacular grove of giant sequoias in their natural setting. Other attractions in the park include the Stanislaus River, Beaver Creek, the Lava Bluff Trail and Bradley Trail.

The park also houses two main campgrounds with a total of 129 campsites, six picnic areas and hundreds of miles of established trails. Activities include cross-country skiing, evening ranger talks, numerous interpretive programs, environmental educational programs, junior ranger programs, hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and summer school activities for school children.

Dogs are welcome in the park on leash in developed areas like picnic sites, campgrounds, roads and fire roads. Dogs are not allowed on the designated trails, nor in the woods in general.

The park is northeast of Stockton, four miles northeast of Arnold on Highway 4.

From SF Bay Area: Take I-580 eastbound over Altamont Pass to I-205 toward Manteca, to US 99 North. Take the exit for State Hwy 4 Eastbound (Angel's Camp) to the Park Entrance. Hwy 4 makes a jog to the right in Angel's Camp along State Hwy 49, then jogs left just before leaving town. Calaveras Big Trees is about 35 minutes driving from Angel's Camp.

From Southern California: Take either I-5 or US 99 North. From I-5 you can cross to the other side of Stockton on State Hwy 4 to 99/4 South a few miles, then follow Hwy 4 towards and beyond Farmington to the park. Hwy 4 makes a jog right in Angel's Camp, then jogs left just before leaving town. Calaveras Big Trees is about 35 minutes driving time from Angel's Camp.

From Sacramento: Take US 99 South to Stockton, turning off onto State Hwy 4 towards and beyond Farmington to the park (through Angel's Camp). Driving time to the park from Stockton is approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes. An alternate route is to take State Hwy 16 southeast to State Hwy 49 South through the goldrush towns to Angel's Camp, making a left turn on the far side of town on State Hwy 4 to the park. Driving time from Angel's Camp is approximately 35 minutes.

From Nevada: Take US 395 to State Hwy 89 West to the terminus of State Hwy 4, up over Ebbett's Pass to the park. The road is closed in winter. It's very scenic, but so steep and tortuous that trailers and large motorhomes are ill-advised to use it.

Year-round Guided Walks

The staff and docents at Calaveras Big Trees have expanded their guided walk program.

In the past, guided walks have been only offered in the summer season, but with the help of enthusiastic docents, the walks are now available on Saturdays at 1 p.m. year-round. The North Grove at Big Trees provides different opportunities for learning and recreation during each season, with brilliant fall colors, the quiet beauty of winter snow and dogwood blossoms in the spring.

Interested visitors should meet their guide near the Warming Hut in the North Grove parking lot no later than 1 p.m. The walks last one and a half to two hours and depending on seasonal conditions, the guides may lead participants through the North Grove or possibly other nearby locations.

Visitors are reminded to be prepared for weather conditions; depending on those conditions, bring or use our snowshoes or your own cross country skis in the winter, a rain jacket in the fall or spring and waterproof boots and gloves. Snacks and water should also accompany walkers.

Sierra redwood trees are the largest trees in the world. Many sierra redwoods are between 250 and 300 feet tall, the tallest being about 325 feet high. While their height is impressive, the real wonder of a sierra redwood lies in its bulk. Many of these giants have diameters in excess of 30 feet near the ground, with a corresponding circumference of over 94 feet!

The largest redwood in Calaveras Big Trees State Park is the Louis Agassiz tree. It is located in the South Grove. This tree is "only" 250 feet tall, but it is over 25 feet in diameter six feet above the ground! The largest tree in the North Grove is probably the Empire State Tree, which is 18 feet in diameter six feet above the ground. The largest tree in the world is the General Grant tree, located in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park It stands 271 feet tall and is 28 feet in diameter at six feet above the ground.

The Big-Leaf Maples, Dogwoods, Hazelnuts, and other shrubs will begin turning into their fall colors gradually. The best color is early November and will generally last until around Thanksgiving. Some Mountain Dogwoods start turning red even in August, but late October is usually best. A good time to see the peak of color is right after a strong rain, when the ground is sometimes carpeted with red and yellow leaves knocked down from the trees.



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