General Sherman Trail at Sequoia National Park
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is located on the Western Sierras and can be accessed by Highway 180 and 198 from Fresno. This park will treat you to the oldest and most spectacular trees in the world to visit. Giant trees, even larger than the giant trees in Redwood State Parks. The park is enormous yet peaceful. Lots of paved and natural hiking trails. Its claim to fame is General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world that spans several thousand years. Museums, campsites, the largest tree in the world and hotels that overlook the the giant tree forest are just a few great places to visit and things to do. What more can you ask for? Great place to visit and stay for several days.
Places to Visit in Sequoia National Park
General Sherman Tree and Trails
Welcome to the most popular attraction in Sequoia. General Sherman Tree is the biggest tree in the world by volume at 275 feet tall and 36 feet wide. The tree phenomenal size attracts big crowds in the summer. General Sherman Tree is a great place to take photos. You will see everyone taking photos and selfies with this gigantic tree in the background.
To visit General Sherman Tree, just follow “General Sherman Tree” sign from General’s Highway. During the summer, it’s best to park at Giant Forest Museum, Lodgepole or Wolverton parking lot and take the shuttle to General Sherman Tree. Shuttles runs every 10 to 20 minutes depending on weekend or weekdays. Lots of people visit this attraction during summer months especially on weekends.
A great place to stay for lodging in Sequoia Park near General Sherman Tree and the Giant Forest is the upscale Wukaschi Lodge
Checkout the park’s map at Sequoia Park Map
Click General Sherman Tree to get Google Map and Direction
Giant Forest / Giant Forest Museum
Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park
Giant Forest has the best collection of Giant Sequoia Trees than anywhere in the park. Giant Forest is where you will find the famous General Sherman Tree. I recommend making the Giant Forest Museum your first stop to visit. During the summer months, you can park in their oversize parking area (that accommodates 240 vehicles including RVs) and use the shuttle to visit the more popular attractions of the park such as General Sherman Tree, hiking trails, Moro Rock, Lodgepole and the Waksuchi Lodge.
Giant Forest Museum at one time was the Sequoia Park Market but was later converted to a museum. The museum is small but well laid out and offers a great introduction to Sequoia Park. The museum features entertaining exhibits that educate you about the park. You will learn the difference between Redwood Trees and Sequoia Trees which belong to the same tree family but are vastly different.
You’ll also appreciate the fact that you are in bear country which comes with many precautions. This is not so much an issue for the majority of tourist but for those who will be camping and taking multiple hikes away from the tourist crowds, you need to understand how to store food from bears and how to protect yourself. Information on precautions to take are located throughout the park’s visitor areas and museum.
Just outside the museum are two easy hiking trails, Hazelwood Nature Trail that is only a mile, self-guided loop (roundtrip) trail. The trail is paved and easy to walk.
The other fun walking trail is the “Big Tree Trail” that begins outside the Giant Forest Museum parking lot. It’s a 1.2 mile, self-guided, round trip trail and the walking path is a great way to experience the giant Sequoias at a leisurely pace. The experience is breath-taking as you witness these giant majestic trees that are several thousand years old as well as fallen trees and trees that experienced lightning burns.
The one thing that will be obvious to you is there are lots of walking/hiking trails and they are easy to find. You can take a random trail as the day presents itself and enjoy the hiking/walking experience. In other words, don’t make a big deal trying to find the first hiking trail, they are all over the place.
For more info on hiking trails, visit Hiking Trails
Click Giant Forest Museum to get Google Map and Direction
Grant Grove Village
General Grant Tree, Kings Canyon Park
Grant Grove Village located in King’s Canyon is a small self-contain city with a U.S. Post Office, market, gift store, visitor center, restaurant and lodging. A great way to explore Kings Canyon is to stay in the park and that’s exactly what Grant Grove Cabins delivers. You will only get the bare essential in the Grant Grove Cabins but you will experience natural living inside the park.
For a more upscale experience, consider staying at the John Muir Lodge where they have 36 rooms with flat screen tvs, private bathrooms and amenities (Wi Fi only available in lounge area). Both the John Muir Lodge and Grant Grove Cabins are located within minutes (by foot) from the famous General Grant Tree and other giant Sequoia Trees.
If you want to get away from the crowds at Sequoia National Park then Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon is a good place to start your journey. However, the majority of attractions that visitors come to see like General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock, Crystal Cave and Giant Forest Museum are 30 miles away in Sequoia National Park.
Click Grant Grove Village to get Google Map and Directions
General Grant Tree and Trails
General Grant Trail, Kings Canyon Park
Located in Kings Canyon National Park, General Grant Tree is like the cousin to General Sherman Tree located 30 miles south in Sequoia. General Grant Tree was designated the National Christmas Tree in April 28, 1926.
General Grant Tree is noted as the second largest tree (by volume) in the world next to General Sherman Tree. There is a 1/3 mile paved looped trail that surrounds the tree beginning at the parking lot. This attraction is slightly less touristy than General Sherman and very busy to visit on summer weekends. The trail is easy to walk and has many other “named” trees. You’ll get to see this tree at different angles because of the loop trail resulting in great photos.
To learn about all the trails at Grant Grove, Click Grant Grove Trails
Click Park Directions and Map
Climbing Top of Moro Rock at Sequoia National Park
Moro Rock Hike (and it’s a hike) is a “must do” for those who are physically able when visiting Sequoia. Moro Rock is a granite dome with a top elevation of 6725 feet. The view from the top is spectacular as you overlook the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the east, Death Valley to the southeast and the San Joaquin Valley to the west.
There are a series of concrete and stone steps that will take you from the small parking area at the base, to the very top. Though the pathway to the top is narrow at places, there are plenty of places to stop and rest.
There are 350 steps to the top with a 200 feet elevation end to end. Fortunately, the steps are a series of climbs and level paths. The level path gives you a chance to catch your breath and continue up. Just take your time and walk at your own pace. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the top at a leisurely pace.
The path is narrow and you may need to occasionally stop and wait for people walking down but that’s ok as it gives you extra time to rest and catch your breath. Obviously, you should be in reasonable shape with no respiratory issues to attempt this hike but I saw many elderly people successfully making it to the top. It’s just a matter of taking your time.
There are handrails throughout the hike. My caution is to parents with young children. Make sure they stick close by and in some cases, depending on the child, hold their hand as you hike up the stairs. The pathway is narrow but safe, however, there is a remote possibility that unsupervised small children could get injured so use caution with young children.
The view from the top will take your breath away and well worth the hike up. Many days the air quality is hazy which will obstruct your view from long distance landmarks but it’s still worth the effort even on days with poor visibility.
You can reach Moro Rock from the Giant Forest Museum parking lot. There will be a sign directing you to the Moro Rock parking lot. Warning, the parking lot at Moro Rock is very small. Parking is not allowed on summer weekends and you must take the shuttle from Giant Forest Museum, Lodgepole or Wolverton. The best option is to take the shuttle. Parking is just too limited, particularly during summer months.
Click Moro Rock for Google Map and Directions
Crystal Cavern Cave
Entrance to Crystal Cavern Cave, Sequoia National Park
Crystal Cavern Cave is an underground world of stalagmites and minerals with precision ice sickle formation. The content of the cave took several thousand years to forms. You’ll learn the history of the cave and the creatures that inhabit the cave. The family tour takes less than an hour and is conducted by knowledgeable guides. The family tour cost $16 for adults and $8 for children. The family tour is just another way of saying “Standard” tour for anyone. The family tour can be one person or several (it doesn’t matter who is in your group) and is the tour that I recommend. See tour prices
The cave tour is just a segment of the overall tour. Before the formal tour sessions starts, there is a 15 minute walk down a narrow pathway to the cave. Once you reach the cave entrance, you’ll be treated to a spectacular waterfall view in the spring and early summer. It’s the perfect photo opportunity. Once everyone in the tour group arrives at the cave entrance, your tour will begin.
You will walk back to the parking lot at the conclusion of your tour. The walk is uphill and strenuous. You should be in reasonable shape as the walk back to the parking lot is long and rather steep at times. Always best to take plenty of rest breaks on the return.
Tickets can be brought online from the National Park website. Click Here to reach park’s online ticket site.
Click Crystal Cavern Cave for Google Map and Directions
Section of General Highway
Named after General Sherman and General Grant (also the name of the two famous trees) this Generals Highway is 32 scenic miles that connects Sequoia National Park to the south and Kings Canyon National Park to the north. The highway is a 2 lane road with many tight turns and multiple switchbacks. Car speed around turns can be as low as 10 MPH but the average speed is 25 MPH. General Highway connects the two parks via Hwy 198 at Sequoia with Hwy 180 at Kings Canyon.
It take about 90 minutes to drive the entire highway. Once pass the Sherman Tree area, you encounter lots of giant Sequoia Trees that you can experience from the comfort of your car without getting out of your car. This highway takes you by most of the major attractions in Sequoia Park such as Giant Forest and Museum, General Sherman Tree, Lodgepole Visitor Center, multiple camping and picnic areas and finally to Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon.
If you have limited time and want to experience Sequoia and Kings Canyon by car, use General Highway between General Sherman Tree and Grant Grove Village. It’s a 32 mile ride that takes 90 minutes to drive due to numerous switchbacks. It may take longer during fall and winter months if the road is open.
Click Generals Highway for Google Map and Directions
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