The Sequoia National Forest in California
Sequoia National Forest
The Giant Red Wood Trees of California, that is how I always remember what the Sequoia was. Going to school I always heard about how these trees were the largest in the world. How you could literally drive your car through one of them. This was one of the many places on my "must see" list and finally in 2008 I was able to go to the Sequoia National Forest and see these magnificent trees.
The Sequoia National Forest has the greatest concentration of giant sequoia groves in the world. These groves are in a protected National Monument area and all around them is managed by the U.S. Forest Service for today and future generations.
There are 33 groves of giant sequoia trees. Some of the ones that are the easiest to get to (using a car) are:
- the Converse Basin Grove
- the Boole Tree
- Indian Basin Grove
- Belknap Complex
- Long Meadow Grove
- The Trail of 100 Giants
- Freeman Creek Grove
- the Bush Loop Trail
This National Forest is divided into two sections which are separated by Kings Canyon National Park. The northern portion is in the Hume Lake Ranger District and the southern portion is in the Western Divide Ranger District. We went in through the southern portion of the Forest. When entering from the southern area you can visit the Mineral King Area, the Foothills area and then you get into the Giant Forest. There are Visitor Centers, picnic areas, camp sites along the roadside.
Given the names of these parks, The Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, you expect giant trees and huge canyons and you won't be disappointed. Yet the whole of the parks is even greater than the sum of their famous parts.
Rising from 1300 feet to 14,494 feet, these parks protect a spectacular elevations range. This span from low to high means dramatic shifts from hot foothills to shady forests to the cold High Sierra. It means extraordinarily diverse plants and animals living in extremely varied conditions. It means steep roads and trails that climb mountains, and cold rivers that plunge down from their heights. There are so many paths to take, roads to travel, and sights to see that if you plan on doing it in one day you need to get an early start.
Things To Do
Giant Forest area
- Giant Forest Museum - The best place to learn about sequoias.
- Big Trees Trail - a 2/3 mile loop that has colorful trail side panels describing sequoia ecology. Starts at the Giant Forest Museum.
- General Sherman Tree - Two trails run to the world's largest tree.
- Crescent Meadow - Summer wildflowers in a fragile meadow. Stay on designated trails.
- Tunnel Log - A fallen sequoia that was tunneled through and the only "tree you can drive through" in the parks. There is a by pass for larger vehicles. 2.7 miles from the Museum.
- Tokopah Falls - 1.7 miles along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. Ends at granite cliffs and a waterfall.
- Hospital Rock Picnic Area - Exhibits about the Western Mono people who once lived here and a very short trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps leads to a waterfall.
- Marble Falls Trail - Climbs 3.9 miles through chaparral to a lovely cascade.
Grant Grove area
- General Grant Tree - One of the world's largest living trees. President Coolidge proclaimed it the Nation's Christmas Tree in 1926. It is also a National Shrine, the only living memorial to those who died in war.
- North Grove Loop - This lightly traveled, 1-1/2 mile trail provides a close look at the Sequoias and a quiet walk through conifer forest.
- Dead Giant Loop - Speculate on what killed this sequoia, and enjoy a picturesque view of an historic mill pond.
- Buena Vista Peak - Park just south of Kings Canyon Overlook on Generals Highway, 7 miles south of Grant Grove. 360 degree vista of Redwood Canyon, Buck Rock, Lookout and High Sierra.
- Redwood Canyon - Dirt road, bumpy, not plowed. This is the worlds largest sequoia grove and has acres of rejuvenating forest from 40 years of prescribed fires, showing the positive relationship between fire and sequoias.
- Big Baldy Ridge - Great views out and down into Redwood Canyon.
- Kings Canyon Overlook - Look Northeast to the High Sierra wilderness at this overlook about 6 miles south of Grant Grove.
- Redwood Mountain Overlook - Look west over one of the world's largest sequoia groves.
The Kings Canyon and Ceder Grove Area
- Canyon View - The "U" shape of this canyon reveals its glacial history.
- Knapp's Cabin - During the roaring '20s, Santa Barbara businessman George Knapp commissioned lavish fishing expeditions here, using this small cabin to sore his gear.
- Roaring River Falls - A shady 5 minute walk to a powerful waterfall rushing through a narrow granite chute.
- Zumwalt Meadow - This 1-1/2 mile trail offers high granite walls, lush meadows and the winding Kings River.
- Road's End - Here where the pavement ends are high granite walls and trails to the river, Muir Rock and the High Sierra. No road continues across the Sierra.
Moro Rock is a granite dome rock formation that is located in the center of the national park. It sits at an elevation of 6,725 feet. There is a stairway that was designed by the National Park Service and was built in the 1930. It is cut into and poured onto the rock so visitors can hike to the top of it. This stairway has 400 steps and is 797 feet long. This of course is NOT stroller friendly (for those of you with small children). As of June 2012, the road to Moro Rock is open to general traffic only during weekdays; on weekends, the shuttle is running and the road is closed to general traffic. The views from the top of Moro Rock are so breath taking. We were able to be up there right before the sunset and it was so beautiful. The mountains and canyons lit up like nothing I have ever seen before.
Seeing these amazing trees has always been a dream of mine and there are no words to describe how incredible they are. The size of these trees is just phenomenal. They will hopefully be around another million years or more for all generations to enjoy. Although I loved the trees, my favorite part of the entire trip was hiking to the top of Moro Rock. This is definitely a trip that everyone in the family could love. It's perfect for the adventure seeking, outdoor type of person.