Redwood Canyon Trail is an overlooked path to beauty

When it comes to giant sequoias, Redwood Mountain always has been kind of a redheaded stepchild.

In 1890, when Congress created what was then called Sequoia and General Grant national parks, nearby Redwood Mountain was left out. Fifty years passed before the world's largest giant sequoia grove received federal protection.

Today, Redwood Mountain still feels left out. Compared to Grant Grove or Giant Forest, it gets scant visitors. There isn't even a paved road to the trailhead.

For hikers, this isn't a bad thing. It means you can stroll among these magnificent trees in near solitude.

From the trailhead bulletin board, take the path marked Hart Tree, Redwood Canyon Trail and descend 0.3 miles to a junction. This loop can be hiked in either direction, but I like to go left and save most of the climbing for the finish.

Although giant sequoias are the star attraction, there are numerous other delights: a shaded creek dotted with dogwoods, which are in full bloom; a delicate, fern-lined waterfall; vistas of Big Baldy and Redwood Canyon; and tiny meadows.

Even the fallen trees are interesting. One of them, called Redwood Cabin, was occupied in the 1930s and still contains a stone fireplace. Another, Fallen Goliath, looks sad and defeated.

Midway through the loop, be sure to take the spur trail leading to Hart Tree, one of the 20 largest in the world. Like many giant sequoias, its charred trunk speaks of fires, both recently and long ago. But at least it's still here.