Into the Sequoias
The Land of Giants.
Ancient and awe-inspiring, trees
are the roots of the park’s history.
To walk into a grove of Giant Sequoias for the first time is to enter a mystical landscape. Trees of incomprehensible size and age tower over the forest floor, their cinnamon-colored columns, some exceeding 100 feet in circumference, stretching 300 feet or more in their quest to reach the heavenly Sierra Nevada sky. Able to flourish through fire, drought, snow and freezing temperatures, the hardy Giant Sequoias live for millennia—the oldest is thought to be some 2,700 years old. Put simply, a Sequoia grove is nature’s cathedral, timeless and sublime.
Given the feelings of awe and inspiration these ancient trees evoke in most visitors, it’s no wonder the communities of our region, with the influence of naturalist John Muir, and a local newspaper publisher, advocated so vigorously for the establishment of the nation’s second national park. Sequoia National Park, dedicated in 1890, is truly our backyard, and we love to share it with visitors.
Home to the five largest trees on earth, Sequoia National Park is a national treasure. The undisputed King of the Forest is the General Sherman tree, not only the largest living tree in the world, but the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. Estimated to be 2,100 years old and weighing in at 2.7 million pounds, it tops out at 275 feet in height and 102 feet in circumference at its base.
In Sequoia National Park, visitors will find a playground for all seasons. With six wilderness areas, two wild and scenic rivers, a scenic byway, downhill snow play area, and many other attractions, there’s no shortage of activities or vistas. Nearby Sequoia National Forest, and Giant Sequoia National Monument, contain 33 groves of Giant Sequoia trees.
And while the mammoth trees are the main attractions, there is more to explore: beautiful meadows, rock climbing, historical sites, lakes, and mountain hikes deep into the wilderness. Climb the 400 stone-carved steps to the top of Moro Rock for 360-degree views of the park, the High Sierras, canyons, and perhaps even sightings of Peregrine Falcons who nest annually on the rock.
Sequoia National Park is a timeless landscape, preserved by people who understand what a truly special place it is. Welcome to our backyard.
What’s the difference between a Park, Forest, and Monument?
National Parks are intended to preserve the natural habitat in its purest form for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of future generations. Parks are barely altered and many activities are restricted, such as off highway vehicle (OHV) use, hunting, and most commercial endeavors.
National Forests are established to manage the health, productivity, and diversity of forest and grasslands in order to meet the needs of current and future generations. National Forests are viewed as a resource, so more activities are usually permitted in designated areas within forest land. These activities include OHV use, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, and commercial logging.
National Monuments are established through the Antiquities Act by order of the President, as opposed to the Congressional approval needed for the creation of a National Park. Restrictions within National Monuments may differ from one to the next, however, monuments are intended to preserve the natural habitat, much like the National Parks. Off road/trail vehicle use is prohibited, and hunting and commercial activities are generally prohibited.
A Wilderness is an area of undeveloped land that is protected to preserve its natural, primeval condition. Development or maintenance of roads and structures, use of motor or mechanical vehicles, commercial enterprise, and human habitation is generally prohibited. The only way to explore these wild areas is on foot or horseback, but it is well worth the effort.
3 Best Places to Make a Splash
From its trailhead at the Lodgepole Campground, this 3.4 mile round-trip hike is an easy walk along the Kaweah River to the impressive granite cliffs and seasonal waterfall of Tokopah Canyon. Enjoy the cool river as it slides down its granite riverbed (NOT recommended when water currents are swift from snowmelt).
Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking,
& Flat Water Boating
Feel your adrenaline rush on the Kaweah, Kern, and Kings rivers. Pick from a variety of river trips by commercial rafting companies operating under special use permit. Want some smooth water? No problem! Kayak, canoe, or swim at Hume Lake. Boat rentals are available.
Cast a Line
in Mineral King
Go fly fishing in the Kaweah River or in one of the high alpine lakes in the Mineral King Valley, and you’ll discover one of the area’s best kept secrets.
3 Beautiful Hikes in the Sequoias
Trail of 100 Giants
The most popular hiking trail in the Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia Na- tional Forest, this 1.3 mile, fully accessible trail is located within Long Meadow Grove. Stroll
at your leisure on a self-guided tour with 20 interpretive stations. The trail is located on the Western Divide Highway.
General Sherman Tree
This half-mile trail (one way) descends upon some of the most magnificent trees in the National Park and culminates at the base of the General Sherman Tree — the world’s largest living thing. Relax at benches that line the trail along the way.
Spectacular views of the Great Western Divide and eastern half of the Park await you atop this giant granite dome. Trust us: the steep quarter- mile staircase to the summit is well worth the photo at the top (weather permitting).
4 Best Places to View the Sequoias
Made of three smaller groves, Belknap Grove is accessible on the Nelson Trail from either Camp Nelson or the Quaking Aspen area. The Nelson Trail is a moderate 3.7 mile hike along the Tule River with an elevation change of 1,500 feet, making it perfect for an afternoon hike among the most giant of the giants. Fishing is available along most of the trail. Or, camp right in the grove.
Click here for campsite reservations.
Balch Park & Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest
Home to thousands of old growth and some of the most unique Giant Sequoias, Balch Park and Mountain Home offer some of the best spots for fishing, swimming, picnicking, scenic walks, hiking, horseback riding, backpacking, and camping in the region. Hike to Hidden Falls, marvel at the Oliver Twist Tree, or meander through the peaceful grove.
& Tunnel Log
Most impressive when the wildflowers are in bloom, this meadow in Sequoia National Park is home to wildlife and many other trails that weave through remote areas of the forest. Tunnel Log, noted as one of the last “novelty” sites in the Park. This tree, which fell in December of 1937, measures 21 feet in diameter at its base and stood about 275 feet tall!
General Grant Tree
It is difficult to comprehend the immense size, age and stature of the General Grant Tree. Standing over 267 feet high and over 107 feet around its base, this beautiful Giant Sequoia is deemed the second largest tree in the world and nicknamed “the Nation’s Christmas Tree”, where an annual celebration is held to honor the fallen men and women who served in our armed forces.