It’s difficult to imagine trees as tall as buildings, and wider than the average city street. But in eastern central California, in the Sierra Nevada, about a 4.5-hour southeast drive from San Francisco’s International Airport, you’ll discover a land of giants in Sequoia National Park.
What makes Sequoia National Park truly remarkable is the sheer size of the giant sequoia trees all around, which are oftentimes confused with California’s other natural skyscrapers the coastal redwoods. Though not necessarily the tallest in the world, the giant sequoia is the largest tree by volume with a trunk so massive that it is awe-inspiring. Imagine tilting your neck to view the full canopy above and only to discover full-size normal trees as mere branches of the giant sequoia—evidence of the volume, and strength, of the trunk.
On your next California trip, put 48-hours in Sequoia National Park on your adventure list.
Where to stay: Three Rivers
Three Rivers is a village on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada along the Kaweah River and is about a 10-minute drive to the Ash Mountain Entrance Station of Sequoia National Park. You can find perfectly suitable AirBnBs or explore several of their lodging options. What makes this location special, aside from the location, is its small mountain town charm.
Tip: If you’re driving in from the west, drive by Lake Kaweah at sunset for a breathtaking view over the golden hills.
Places to taste (right on the river)
Sequoia Coffee Company is an ideal spot for breakfast and the necessary coffee before your hikes.
Ol’ Buckaroo, a casual but inconspicuously delicious place for dinner. They do all of their cooking right from a food truck, and their meat is locally sourced.
Three Rivers Brewing Co., because all good destinations have microbrews that provide a deeper sense of the local community flavor.
Hikes by difficulty
Easy: Big Trees Trail: This 1.3-mile loop takes you on a walk around Round Meadow, an open field where the sun’s rays permeate the Giant Sequoias. In May you can find ladybugs by the dozens, a sign of good luck in some cultures.
Tip: For a relatively easy, but long, hike take the ultimate path: Big Trees Trail to Alta Trail, where you’ll pass top tree attractions of Washington Tree, The Cloister, Lincoln Tree, Room Tree, McKinley Tree, General Lee Tree, House Group (along the Congress Trail), Chief Sequoyah Tree, President Tree, and Senate Group. Then backtrack a bit along Congress Trail to see the Founders Group and Cattle Cabin before returning to Alta Trail for a loopback.
Moderate-to-difficult: Moro Rock Trail: It’s a 0.5-mile out-and-back that’s easy for some but dizzying for others. Although not a long trail, its chiseled path leads up the side of a giant rock that’s over 6,700 ft in elevation, with a summit overlooking the Great Western Divide.
Difficult: Marble Falls Trail: This 7.4-mile out-and-back is not for the faint of heart as most of the trail weaves along the edge of the mountainous canyon, with few places to pass oncoming hikers. However, it’s a beautiful winding pathway with wildflowers that leads to Marble Falls where you can hear to water roar as you rest.
These paths are interchangeable to pair with since Moro Rock Trail is a fairly quick hike. However, I’d recommend Marble Falls as a standalone adventure with some scenic sequoia stops.
Have you been to Sequoia National Park? Share your suggestions below!
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