Griswold Trail


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The Griswold Trail resides within the Giant Sequoia National Monument on the Sequoia National Forest. It is a very old trail that hardly receives any use compared to other trails on the National Forest. One has to drive through Mountain Home State Experimental Forest then head down to Moses Gulch where the River Trail begins. One takes the River Trail through along the river, turn east up the Eastside Trail, and you will eventually arrive at the trailhead for Griswold. Our day adventure was to find out if the trail still existed. If it did, how far could we go before it disappeared. The trail hasn’t received maintenance in at least 25 years or more.

Our day packs were loaded and ready to go. We started to make our way towards the trail around 720 AM on May 8, 2014. It took about an hour to arrive at Moses Gulch. Here we parked our truck, slung our bags on our backs, and started hiking. One needs to walk back down the road in order to find the trail down to the North Fork Middle Fork Tule River and then to the River Trail. It was cold that morning. We saw some snow on the way in and had our jackets on for a while.


It wasn’t long till we were at the river and had to cross. With the water being so fast and cold, we did not even attempt to wade or cross it without our boots on. Thankfully, there is a sequoia down across the river. People have made wooden planks to help cross the river. Within a minute or two of trekking over to the crossing, we were back on the trail heading down the east side of the river. It was so peaceful and quite. Not a soul was around so we had the place to ourselves.

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Our next crossing was a lot easier to deal with. We crossed Galena Creek with a few hops and a jump. Our next creek crossing was Silver Creek. On the State Forest map it also mentioned a place of interest called Miner’s Cabin. It is a historical cabin where people still camp at. The cabin isn’t used and is slowly falling apart. Once across the creek, the trail begins to climb up and around a ridge where we found our first trail junction.

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We had a map and a GPS with us just incase this junction was no longer there. Thankfully it was and an old broken sign still had some letters indicating where points of interest are located. If we continued straight, we were going to the Copper Mine. If we went left and uphill, we would find the Griswold Trail. This information matched our maps and notes, so up the hill we went. The photos will not show how really steep the trail is, but our legs and feet will say otherwise.

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It was a slow and steep up hill climb. The trial switched backed often to help with the grade. Black Oak leaves littered the trail and forest floor. There were a few trees down blocking our way and we did the best we could to stay on the trail while getting around them. We continued on for about 20 minutes and the trail was now along the ridge top. Here the trail was not as steep and provided a peak into some of the scenic views a head of us. We took advantage of the break and snapped some photos. We continued on up the trail and found another panoramic view. Again we took full advantage of the break and snapped another photo.




We pressed onward and found the Griswold Trail. An old sign was on the ground showing Eastside Trail and Griswold Trail. We put the broken sign halves together only to realize they were two separate signs. Holes in the tree showed where the sign once was directing traffic. Anyway, we had made it to the junction and could see the trail continue up the mountain even further. Both of us didn’t think we would find this junction with so many discrepancies on several maps. It looks like the Tom Harrison and the old USGS 1960’s maps were correct in the location.

The trail cut over the drainage and headed south to another ridge. Once on the ridge it went uphill again. This is when we started to see patches of snow around 7,000 feet elevation. We took a break for snacks and a quick bit to eat around noon. As we continued to find the trailbed, the trail itself needed brushing in parts and some fallen trees removed. However, for not receiving maintenance in at least 25 years, the trail was in amazingly good condition. Unfortunately the higher we climbed, the more snow-covered the forest floor making it difficult to find the trail.


The snow as about an inch thick. Someone had piled rocks, which was a big help. Other times we could find cut down logs and knew the trail went a certain direction. As we continued to make our way up the mountain, the snow was getting deeper, clouds blurred our vision, and we had to turn back. We were at 8,000 feet when we called it quits for the day. It was 1:30 PM and we had to make our way down a very steep and snow-covered trail. We both fell a couple of times.


The trek was much slower going downhill through the snow. However, we were no longer trying to discover where the trail was located, which was a nice change. Our knees, feet, and legs took a beating as we made our way. We made it to a good vista point below the snow and finished up our lunch. We were both spent and definitely hungry. Once recharged we moved as quick as we could to get back to the truck and get home. It was a great day.

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We were both happy to have traveled so far when we didn’t even expect to get past the junction at Eastside Trial. It was a great way to end the week and knowing the trail still exists. This will be great for other hikers to know about too as I believe it is a “short cut” to get to Maggie Lakes. Granted, we did not get all the way there and fell short by about half a mile. We will have to try again sometime in the future. For now, we know the trail is still there and that is what counts.


15 Comments Add yours

  1. Don Smith says:

    Hello! I’ve hiked the summit trail to Maggie Lakes a few times and often wondered about the Griswold Trail as well. It looks like you were well on your way, best of luck next time.I think I’m going to try this too one of these days.


    1. Joshua says:

      Hi Don. If the snow wasn’t there, I am sure we would have made it to the Summit Trail. I was surprised to get as far as we did all things considered. It is a steep climb, so early morning hours would be best. I would even consider it as a “short cut” to Maggie Lakes personally as long as you don’t mind uphill hiking.


  2. Sam says:

    Thanks for your trip report, it inspired us to try the trail yesterday. Myself and two others did it and we went 2 Maggie Lakes.

    If you want more information on the condition of the trail, shoot me an email.


    1. Jose says:

      Hi Sam. How can I get in contact with you for info on the trail. Would love to check this one out. How long did the trail take to hike?


  3. Samuel Wilson says:

    I wrote up a crappy (tons of spelling and grammatical errors and probably other directional and mileage errors) trip report for my personal use, you can email me and I’ll email you the verbiage. We made it up to Maggie Lakes in about 6.25 hours from Moses Gulch, but we were wiped out and still had to hike back down the same day…


  4. Samuel Wilson says:

    just realized my email address doesn’t show, and I don’t want to put it on here. The trail got super hard to follow and lots of downed trees, but it was manageable in it’s upper areas, but probably OK if you are used to getting lost, poking around and like to try and follow old trails. It probably took us about 4 hours(from the start at Moses Gulch) to get to the where we think it T-boned into the summit trail up on the plateau near Griswold Meadows(was under a few feet of snow up there). That’s all I have time for now to describe.


    1. Joshua says:

      Amazing how much can change in one year. Thanks for the update. Only a few trees down when I last walked it in September.


  5. Samuel Wilson says:

    yeah…this last year was tough on trees, however, most of the tree fall was in the upper parts of the Griswold trail in a section where someone hung a ton of red tape to mark the areas where the trail was less visible, the lower part was minimal on the tree fall.


    1. Joshua says:

      Yes. The last mile (or less) uphill to the Summit Trail was marked out. The trail was really visible then. I imagine the winter we had covered some of the work up. Hopefully it will be maintained. Eitherway, going up Griswold is not easy and conserving water is a must as there is none until you gear north of the Summit Trail junction.


  6. Jose says:

    Thanks a lot for the info. Been asking around everywhere for info and tips about Mountain Home, Balch Park area. I’ll be arriving to mountain home forest July 1st. Hopefully there will still be some campsites available when I arrive. Moses Gulch is my first choice and I was contemplating doing this hike the following day but by the sound of it, I should probably think it over considering I’m going alone. Never been to sequoia national forest so I want to make the best of the time I have there. And I’ll be leaving there 3rd, Sunday morning. Any other hikes recomended around the area?


  7. Jose says:

    I’d still love to check out those copper mines


  8. Samuel Wilson says:

    the trail from shake camp and/or hidden falls is usually maintained and easy to follow, you can take it to summit lake, or up to the hockett plateau and meadows. That trail is more scenic than the griswold and more water stops. I’d recommend it first. Both start in the Balch Park area….


    1. Joshua says:

      Long Meadow Trail is what it is called. In about 2 miles you’ll be at Redwood Crossing. You can continue across and turn left at a trail junction to head towards Summit Lake. As Samuel said you’ll be by the Tule River often so water spots should not be an issue. It is a great hike and, if you want to do it in a day (14.8 miles round trip), start early in the morning :).


  9. Jose says:

    Great info gentlemen! I really apreciate it. Doing some research on the trail and have heard great things about it. One question, is the river crossing at redwood crossing difficult? I’ve read that there is a fallen tree there. Should I cross with the tree or try the river? Thanks again. I cannot wait! 🙂


    1. Joshua says:

      I took off my boots and crossed in June of 2010 and had no problems. Some people were climbing up the fallen sequoia. If you want to try the sequoia route, it hangs at about 10 to 15 feet above the water at its highest point.


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