Columns of the Giants NRT

The Columns of the Giants is an interpretive site that highlights a unique geological formation of columnar basalt, very similar to the Devils Postpile National Monument.

photo: Columns of the Giants

Length: 0.50 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Nature Trail
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Dogs - On leash
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running

See more details.


Location: In the Brightman Recreation Area of the Stanislaus National Forest, just off SR 108, 54 miles east of Sonora, CA.
State(s): California
Counties: Tuolumne
Longitude: -119.8056
Latitude: 38.33988

Driving Directions

From Sonora, take SR 108 east 30 miles toward Pinecrest. Continue 24 miles past the Pinecrest turnoff and 2 miles past Dardanelle Resort. The large sign on the right side of the highway reads: “Stanislaus National Forest Geologic Site Columns of the Giants.” Turn right into the parking area which is also located adjacent to Pigeon Flat Campground.


This self-guided half-mile paved trail reveals a brief chapter in the dynamic history of the Sierra Nevada. Volcanic activity occurred five to ten million years ago and changed the landscape forever. Lava flowing down the ancient Stanislaus riverbed pooled behind a natural dam. As it slowly cooled, it split into multi-sided vertical columns. Later, a glacier flowed down the valley, carving through the volcanic layers and exposing the columns. Unique to this site is a remnant glacier beneath the talus slope.

There are vault toilets available near the parking area. Trails lead to a bridge which crosses over the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River on the way to view the geologic formation. Interpretive panels along the way illustrate the story of the Columns of the Giants.

Additional Details

Width: 36 inches.
Primary Surface: Asphalt
Secondary Surface: Asphalt

Average Grade: 5%
Maximum Grade: 5%
Elevation Low Point: 6,000
Elevation High Point: 6,000
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: USFS Trail Details

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
Karen Caldwell
District Ranger
Stanislaus National Forest
#1 Pinecrest Lake Rd.
Pinecrest, CA 95364
(209) 965-3434
[email protected]



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