With mountain peaks reaching past 4,250 m (14,000 ft) and trees stretching to over 75 m (250 ft) high, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks present nature on a grand scale. These two parks sit adjacent to one another in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, so many visitors take them both in on the same trip. Sequoia is home to Mt. Whitney, which at 4,418 m (14,494 ft) stands as the highest mountain in the continental United States. However, the park’s most well-known figure is the General Sherman Tree at 83.8 m (275 ft) high and 7.7 m (25 ft) wide–the largest tree in the world by volume. It’s an estimated 2,300-2,700 years old. Other trees in the Giant Forest are equally impressive.
The mountainous terrain of both parks makes the area popular for outdoor activities, with outstanding hiking and rock climbing in summer and fall and relatively reliable snowshoeing and backcountry skiing in winter and spring. It’s common to see black bears in the park’s meadows, and bighorn sheep are making a comeback here. With a vertical relief of over 3,960 m (13,000 ft), the parks’ climate and ecosystems can vary a great deal from lower to higher elevations throughout the year. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is in California (CA).
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are home to several natural biggies, from immense mountains to deep canyons via giants of the leafy sort. Not surprisingly, the parks are not only big physically, but big as in popular, particularly with outdoors enthusiasts. These two adjacent national parks were the country’s second and third so designated, and together with Giant Sequoia National Monument as well as vast tracts of federal wilderness take in a significant portion of the Sierra Nevada.
Read on as we will give you tips on the 10 things to see at Sequoia National Park.
#1 The Giant Forest
Giant Forest has over 2,100 Sequoia trees that measure over 10 foot diameter. The Big Tree Trail around Round Meadow is an easy hike to view these Giant Sequoias. The Congress Trail is also another great hike to view these behemoths. The best way to do the Congress Trail is to take the shuttle bus to the lower handicap parking area and access the trail at the Sherman Tree. The regular Sherman parking lot has a downhill trail to the tree that is a steep climb back out of.
#2 Lakes Trails in Sequoia
The scenery is spectacular, along winding roads, with each corner producing stunning sights. The views and vistas are simply mind blowing, and the slight drop in altitude to go into the redwood forest is indication that there is another visual feast on its way, the redwoods are amazing, I have never seen trees like it, the trees immediately engendered in me a desire to just walk up to a tree and give it a hug… though you cannot get your arms around them.
#3 Congress Trail
Stunning trail through the giant Sequoias was highly enjoyable. Easy trail for most participants. Could use a bit more signage, but excellent overall. Wonderful Sequoias, both individuals and groups.
#4 Moro Rock
Excellent hike. ~1/2 mile roundtrip – but feels like a bit more because it is basically ~1/4 mile straight up a rock staircase and then back down again. Trail is well maintained and felt with safe handrails and/or rock guard rails. Views from top are lovely and well worth it. My wife was able to hike to the top. Unfortunately, because of my fear of heights, i stayed near the trail head before the climb. Recommend early shuttle to minimize crowds (if weekend or holiday).
#5 Kings Canyon
The drive into the canyon is spectacular. Once you reach the bottom you follow branches of several rivers including the King River. The cliffs of the canyon, waterfalls and meadows are beautiful. There are campgrounds and picnic areas in the canyon as well as hiking trails. It was worth the long twisting drive up and back to see this amazing canyon.
#6 General Sherman Tree
This is a phenomenal tree to view, large and stately. The best time to view is early or late because of the huge crowds. The general parking area is one half mile above the tree with a paved walkway down with many steps. It is a fairly strenuous climb out. To avoid the climb use the number 1 shuttle bus from either Giant Museum or Lodgepole and get off at the lower handicap parking area stop. It is then a short walk to the tree and access to several trails, especially the Congress Trail. Even when you reach the apex, you can never stray too far from the boss — also found in the parks is the no-less-imposing General Grant Tree.
#7 Grant Grove
Great place to walk around some of these giant trees to get a grasp of just how big they are. It is definitely worth stopping and hiking around the take in the beauty and magnificence of these giants.
#8 Tokopah Falls
This is a lovely walk for all fitness levels but just be aware the last 200 metres or so may not be suitable for the elderly, frail, infirm or injured etc. You need to be able to maneuver over rocks and boulders. if you can do that the falls are lovely assuming there’s a bit of water. We were also lucky to see some lovely local birds and wildlife.
#9 Crescent Meadow Loop
The Giant Forest is one of the highlights in Sequoia National Park. Crescent Meadow offers an easy trail run in The Giant Forest, with views of Tharp’s Log and the Chimney Tree. The main 1.6 mile loop is a combination of paved and well packed dirt. From the trailhead at Crescent Meadow Parking Area, the path is shared with the High Sierra Trail. The Chimney Tree is just off the trail on a well-marked path. One can step inside this standing burnt out Sequoia, for a unique experience. Feel free to complete this loop more than once for a longer workout. Also, be aware this accessible trail attracts quite a few visitors. It is best to time your run in the morning and evening to avoid crowds. We hiked in the evening and the hike was very peaceful and quiet. There are many small streams near the trail.
#10 Crystal Cave
Although a bit out of the way – definitely worth the trip! Once you arrive, the staff is very friendly. We were fortunate to get in on an earlier tour as we arrived super early. The mosquitos in the morning are ROUGH (bring spray) but it’s worth it! Be prepared for a little trek to and from the cave (more steps/incline than you might think) but it is pretty along the way.
Average Joe Camper at one of the Giant Sequoia Trees