OAK GROVE BRIDGE (Mileage: 6.5 miles - Elevation: 2,550) The drive up the road does not lack in scenery. You’ll cross the East Fork of the Kaweah River on the Oak Grove Bridge, built in 1923.
SQUIRREL CREEK (9 miles / 3,250 feet): Water flows down slick, water-polished slabs of granite, although if the area doesn’t receive rain soon, the water source will go dry.
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK BOUNDARY (9.5 miles / 3,500 feet): The locked gate. Park here and start walking.
LOOKOUT POINT (4,000 feet / 10.3 miles): After leaving your car, the road climbs steeply for almost a mile to reach Lookout Point. This is the steepest section on the entire Mineral King Road! You’ll forget all about that strenuous beginning when you round the bend and see this view.
TRAUGERS (12.5 miles / 4,600 feet): Harry and Mary Trauger settled just up the creek in 1878. It takes some bushwhacking to reach the old homestead but there are remains, including toppled outbuildings, the home’s fireplace, and some of the ranch’s plantings, including apple trees, periwinkle, blackberries, and sweet peas, which line the road and bloom a vibrant pink each spring.
TRAUGERS (12.5 miles / 4,600 feet): A decrepit outhouse west of the Trauger homesite.
SLAPJACK CREEK (14.8 miles / 5,130 feet): The foundation of an old ranger station is below the road. The area is named for William “Slapjack” Smith who settled here in 1873, just as silver fever set in and masses of would-be miners headed to Mineral King on what was then an old stock trail. Slapjack offered services to the traffic at his way station.
SLAPJACK CREEK (14.8 miles / 5,130 feet): The decaying remnants of an old outhouse are just below the road.
REDWOOD CREEK (16 miles / 5,700 feet): What trip to Sequoia would be complete without encountering Big Trees? The Redwood Creek Grove contains the first of the giant sequoias encountered along the road but there are more to come.
WOLVERTON POINT (17 miles / 6,150 feet): There is a National Park Service helipad at this scenic locale. There is also a picnic table, which provides a convenient rest stop with a view. The place name is associated with James Wolverton, a mountain man who wandered the southern Sierra during the 1870s and is credited for naming the General Sherman Tree in 1879.
CONIFER GATE (17.5 miles - 6,300 feet): A view of Sawtooth and Mineral peaks (left and right, respectively) just before entering the forest and encountering another locked gate.
ATWELL GROVE (18.5 miles - 6,450 feet): The road skirts a giant sequoia, part of the substantial Atwell Grove.
ATWELL CREEK (19 miles - 6,500 feet): The casing of a steam-powered donkey engine alongside the road, a relic of logging operations that occurred ca. 1880-1900.
ATWELL CREEK (19 miles - 6,500 feet): A hiker provides scale to the size of a giant sequoia.
ATWELL MILL (19.5 miles - 6,500 feet): It’s a place where tree stumps are bigger than the dwellings.
ATWELL MILL (19.5 miles - 6,500 feet) The historic Alles cabin. (Notice: There is still four or so miles to go to road's end, but since we were on foot, we turned around at Atwell Mill. Stay tuned... more to come on another day!)