Outer Loop Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,176' 358 m
Descent: -941' -287 m
High: 6,740' 2,054 m
Low: 5,674' 1,729 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)
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“Visitors craving more miles and a chance at solitude opt for this circuit of many named sequoias”— Megan W
Starting from the main parking lot, head north uphill on a handful of long switchbacks. Soon the intersection with the Calif Tunnel Tree to Outer Loop Trail appears on the right. Continue through the shady forest, passing the junction with the Faithful Couple to Outer Loop Trail (West) on the right. If you're determined to see the conjoined Faithful Couple trees and the Clothespin Tree, take this detour.
The Outer Loop Trail now bends west and out of the sequoia zone. After skirting a small meadow, arrive at a junction with the Wawona Trail. Stay right, climbing through a steep section and continue meandering through the secluded woods. On this trail it is hard to believe a million people visit the grove each year. Pass the intersection of the Sequoia Nature Trail on your right (take this if you need water or restrooms at the museum). Continue east through the scenic upper grove. The Wawona Point Vista Trail branches off to the left to visit the highest point in Mariposa.
The Outer Loop Trail turns south at the Galen Clark tree (named after an early conservation advocate for this area). Next up is the Fallen Tunnel Tree which used to be called the Wawona Tunnel Tree until it fell in a 1969 snow storm. It's tunnel was carved in 1881, making it "the most famous tree in the world" for a time. Cars were driven through it, further weakening the roots. It's collapse increased awareness of how sensitive and in need of protection these trees are. Soon after the junction with the Trail to Biledo Meadow, the route goes downhill until the Telescope Tree comes into view. This still-living tree was hollowed out by numerous wildfires and could fall over at any time. When viewed from inside, you'll understand how the tree got its name.
The Outer Loop Trail makes a dramatic bend west towards the middle of the grove and meets the Clothespin Tree to Museum Trail near the restrooms and museum. To continue along the Outer Loop Trail, turn south and traverse down the hillside. Although the Outer Loop Trail officially ends at a distant junction with the Old Road to Fish Camp, most users turn off before this point onto the California Tunnel Tree North Trail to visit this sequoia and then return to the parking area via the Grizzly Giant Trail.
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Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite