Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grover Hot Springs SP offers great alternative to Yosemite

Mountain waterfall at Grover Hot Springs State Park.

Several trails
run through
park in Sierras

Families wary of going to Yosemite National Park because of the crowds ought to consider a trip at Grover Hot Springs State Park. The small state park sits in the middle of Yosemite and features hot springs, a fragrant pine forest, and an alpine meadow in the High Sierras.

Three trails perfect for day hiking run through the state park. Six springs feed one hot pool (102-105 F) and one cool pool; the pools generally are open May through September.

To reach the park, from Markleeville, Calif., take State Hwy. 89 north. At Hot Springs Road, turn left/west. The state park is in about 3.5 miles. Drive past the park entrance station to the overflow parking lot.

The park’s five trails include:
g Burnside Trail – Rather than walk the entire 10-mile round trip, have a member of your party drive to the destination, the alpine Burnside Lake, located in neighboring Toiyabe National Forest (From State Hwy. 88, drive 5.5 miles on Burnside Road to the lake.). Look for the Burnside Trail sign at Quaking Aspen Campground’s north end. The trail gains 2100 feet as it heads through a pine forest.
g Hot Springs Trail – The 0.6-mile round trip trail links the hot springs pools and the campground bridge. Most of the trail crosses an alpine meadow.
g Hot Springs Waterfall Trail – The trail runs 3 miles round trip along Hot Springs Creek to a waterfall. Start at the Burnside Trail trailhead in Quaking Aspen Campground. At the first signed junction, go left/southwest off the Burnside Trail.
g Sawmill Creek Trail – Day hikers can walk next to Hot Springs Creek and then Saw Mill Creek on the 2-mile round trip trail. The trail leaves from the pools, beginning in an alpine meadow then heading into pines.
g Transition Walk – The 3-mile nature trail loops around an alpine meadow and is particularly beautiful at sunrise or sunset. Its trailhead is north of the campground bridge.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.