Summary. Located just outside the town of Arnold, Calaveras Big Trees State Park was established back in 1852 but become a protected State park in 1931 due, in part, to the destruction of some of the most impressive Sequoias for various exhibitions. This Park is especially great for kids with trees to climb, flat trails, and gorgeous, towering Sequoias to admire.
Getting there. From Sonora, where we stayed, this Park is just 45 minutes, taking Highway 49 to Highway 4. From Yosemite, it is approximately 2+/- hours taking Highway 120 to Highway 49 to Highway 4. Both drives are scenic.
Arrival. Be sure to walk through the Visitor's Center when you arrive. The displays offer a great background for the Park so you can appreciate your visit that much more.
The hike. There are three main, short hikes at the Park. We did two of the three, and both can be completed fairly quickly. We first walked through the North Grove Trail (1.5 miles), then the South Grove Trail (5 miles). These trails feature the Discovery Tree (the stump of what was once the largest tree in the area) and Pioneer cabin tree (a walk through tree). You can add the Lava Bluffs Trail (2.5 miles), which is also fairly flat and easy we are told.
These hikes are all easy and great for little kids. We definitely recommend this day trip from Yosemite.