Aug 132010
Shadow of the Giants, Nelder Grove.  Photo by T. Kornylak

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with planning the perfect road trip from Los Angeles.  I’m talking about a road trip for every occasion – for when your parents come out to see what living in California is all about; for when your old college roommate decides to visit you after all those years; for the time when you just want to get out of town but you have only a few spare days of vacation.

This is the first in a series of  road trip ideas that I plan to post on my blog.  I’ll call these trip itineraries “Circuits” because they are designed to avoid backtracking.  All of them will be doable in 3-4 days (i.e. over a long weekend).  All of them will incorporate some outdoor activities and good food, but will be flexible to accommodate a wide range of interests and abilities.  For each “Circuit” I’ll post a detailed itinerary.  Of course, road trip itineraries are meant to be broken, so think of these as suggestions.

This is a dog-friendly Circuit

I planned the Great Sierra Circuit as a dog-friendly, three-day road trip with my parents.  Our objective: to hit the highlights of the Sierra Mountains and return in time for a red-eye departure from LAX on Sunday night.  It was a bit ambitious, and I’ll be the first to suggest that you give yourself a little more time on this one.  But we did it, and we had fun!

Just in time to catch the last of the dogwoods

Day 1 (Friday):

  • Stock up on munchies at the Venice Farmer’s Market.  Check out the Los Angeles Certified Farmer’s Market schedule to find a market for the day of your departure.  We grabbed in-season cherries, nectarines, lemon roasted almonds and medjool dates.
  • On any road trip, a stop at a cheese factory and petting zoo is de rigeuer.  We stopped at the Bravo Farms Cheese Factory off of Highway 99.  I won’t vouch for the cheese, but the tree house was awesome.
Toki meets the bunnies.
  • Drive Interstate 5 to Highway 99 to Oakhurst, to visit the lyrically-named Shadow of the Giants trail at the Nelder Grove Sequoias (about 4 + hours).  The Nelder Grove is a less-visited option than the sequoia groves in Yosemite.  On our visit, we practically had the place to ourselves.  I came to appreciate this novelty on day two, when we were turned away at the Mariposa Grove because of the crowds.  The 1-mile walk is a perfect distance for the whole family.  If you’re feeling a little more sporty, check out other hikes or trail runs in the area.
Giant Sequoia, Nelder Grove
… and tiny mushrooms
  • Check into the dog-friendly Oakhurst Best Western (not your newest choice, but it certainly has a lot of grass) or, if you want to splurge, check out the Tenaya Lodge
  • If time permits, drive into Yosemite for a quick peek, or if history is your thing, stop by the Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park.  One perk to traveling with your parents: only $10 for a senior’s pass into Yosemite!
Cobwebs and moss.  It reminded me of Oregon.
  • Tips: Try leaving mid-week or early spring/late fall to avoid the insane Yosemite crowds.
Enjoying the pine needles at Nelder Grove

In my next post: Day 2 – riding the rails, traffic jams in Yosemite Valley and sunset at Mono Lake.

  2 Responses to “The Great Sierra Circuit Part I: the ultimate SoCal road trip”

  1. I love these images.
    villas costa brava

  2. […] so-cal, pup-friendly roadtrip, check out my Yosemite series: The Great Sierra Circuit Part I (The Ultimate So-Cal Roadtrip), Part II (Yosemite Valley to Mono Lake), and Part III (Shooting it up – with camera – […]

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