Deer Creek Grove is the southernmost grove of giant sequoias, “about 250 air miles south of northernmost Placer County Grove,” according to Dwight Willard’s excellent book A Guide to the Sequoia Groves of California. Willard goes on to say that the grove “…has about 35 mature sequoias strung along the creek, plus many younger trees. None are exceptionally large.”
Willard also explains that the grove was never logged for sequoias. “The grove was selectively logged for pine and fir only between 1914 and 1920, but has been preserved from cutting since then.”
The grove is in the Sequoia National Forest, near the small community of Pine Flat. It is a couple of miles from the California Hot Springs community.
I visited Deer Creek Grove early one morning when I was in the area in the summer of 2015.
To get to the grove from Mountain Road 50, go straight (onto Mountain Road 56 toward Pine Flat) when Mountain Road 50 ends at Mountain Road 56. From Mountain Road 56, turn right when the road dead ends at Mountain Road 50. A sign labeled “Deer Creek Grove” will point you to a left turn onto forest road 23S04. Follow that winding gravel and dirt road for several miles, through ranch land, then forest. The road ends in a gravel parking area at the lower edge of the grove. When I visited, there was no sign, nothing other than the parking area and a dilapidated picnic table in a clearing to indicate that I had arrived.
Unlike other trails through (the admittedly few) sequoia groves I’ve visited, the trail through Deer Creek Grove is a real hike.
The path is barely visible, marked only by other feet that traveled on it in the past. Some parts of the trail are on a somewhat steep incline. I thought I was in decent physical condition when I tried to hike through this grove, but I was soon huffing and puffing and panting as I ascended.
I wasn’t prepared for a real hike when I visited Deer Creek Grove. I was wearing a skirt when I really needed long pants to adequately protect my legs. I also really needed my walking stick to help me up the steep parts of the trail, but I’d left it in the van. I should have used a backpack to carry water instead of holding my bottle in my hands. I hadn’t been planning on mosquitoes either, but they were out in force, biting the hell out of me. The only bug repellent I had was some hippy dippy oily Tom’s of Maine stuff which made my skin greasy, but did absolutely zero to deter the mosquitoes.
I didn’t stay in the grove very long. I didn’t hike the entire trail (which Willard says “…passes by all the grove’s good-sized trees”). I just wasn’t having much fun, so I decided to backtrack and leave. I did get a few nice photos before I left.
I took all photos in this post.