One of the main problems in getting good information is having experienced people at the other end of the phone or other side of the desk. Someone commented about being leery of "summer help." Well, you're almost certainly going to be talking to a seasonal worker. It's a job that has little chance of leading to a permanent/career position; there's no health insurance or retirement etc. And it's usually a GS 4 or GS 5 job ($13 - $15/hour). So add in rent & health insurance for a transient job where you have to move twice a year, there's not much reason to come back after 2 seasons or so.
The turnover for seasonals is close to 100% at 3 years. This is also true for seasonal law enforcement jobs, which pay better (though require extensive training). In addition, if you're working behind a desk, you're not out learning the terrain. So any specific questions would likely be beyond the knowledge of most people answering questions. Even if you ask for "the backcountry ranger" it's hit or miss that you'll be able to talk to anyone who knows anything. In Sequoia Kings, for instance, there's only two permanent employees (the backcountry sub-district supervisors) who have the level of knowledge to answer detailed questions. With any luck, the seasonal backcountry rangers are in, yep, the backcountry and beyond (we hope) the reach of phones and the metaverse.
It could be that the days of people like Mike & I -- who stay as b/c rangers for decades -- are over. I certainly hope not. I do think there are still people so dedicated to wilderness that they're willing to take a vow of poverty and chastity and mac & cheese to stay and learn about a place on the earth. It's getting darned hard to do though.
Hmmmm. Story: I had finished a backcountry ski trip in Sequoia and went by the visitor desk to report on conditions. They were utterly uninterested. Their interest (and all of the questions they got) only involved road accessible areas. Still, I would have thought a larger curiosity about the park might have sparked some glimmer of interest... .
This is not to criticize anyone in the offices -- they're answering phones and emails non-stop and doing the best they can. But there's definite limits on what they can know. I absolutely agree that "I don't know" should be used more often -- also "I'll try to find out" but I think that's human nature to a great extent.
In Sequoia (and I think the Inyo) backcountry rangers call out trail reports about once a week. It's pretty good information but often has to be interpolated based on experience, as does all information from whatever source.
Finally, back to the original question. I didn't realize the regulations were so ambiguous. I assumed that there was no group size limit in frontcountry trails (for Sequoia Kings. Whitney trails does have day-use limits now (??)). I've never heard of any limits being enforced if, say, you were to take a day hike with 20 people up to Mist Falls or something. And, hmmmmmm, again. I should look this up, but the limit is on people who get wilderness permits for overnight hikes. If there's no permit, I can't imagine there's a limit. A discussion for Talmudic scholars, I think.