Calaveras Big Trees State Park

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GiantStumpCalaverasNorthGrove.jpg
Discovery Tree stump

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, located 4 miles (6 km) northeast of Arnold, California in the middle altitudes of the Sierra Nevada in Calaveras County, became a State Park in 1931 to preserve the North Calaveras Grove of Giant Sequoias. It has been a major tourist attraction since 1852, when the existence of the trees was first widely reported, and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California.

Over the years, other parcels of mixed conifer forests, including the much larger South Calaveras Grove of Giant Sequoias (purchased in 1954 for $2.8 million), have been added to the park to bring the total area to about 2600 ha (6,500 acres). The North Grove contains about 100 mature Giant Sequoias; the South Grove, about 1,000.

The North Grove included the 'Discovery Tree' noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852 and felled in 1853, leaving a giant stump which is the only remainder of the tree. It measured 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter at its base and was counted by ring count to be 1244 years old when felled.

In addition to the popular North Grove, the Park also now includes the South Grove, with a 5 mile (8 km) hiking trip through a spectacular grove of Giant Sequoias in their natural setting. The South Grove includes the 'Agassiz' tree, 74 m tall and 6.8 m diameter 2 m above ground (7.6 m diameter at the base), the largest tree in the Calaveras groves. It is named after zoologist Louis Agassiz (1807-1873).

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.

Other 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 (dirt). Dogs are not allowed on the designated trails, nor in the woods in general.

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