If you like big trees you’ll be “climbing” all over this post.
And if you like bad puns, you might not hate that that was my intro to this recap of Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia National Park is a swath of the Sierra Nevadas rich in big trees, hence its name. Many enter via the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park to the north, and to be frank, there isn’t a ton of differentiation between the two parks. Both are peppered in Giant Sequoias, using their impressive arbors as selling points. Beautiful as such an abundance of nature is, it’s easy to become burnt out on trees by the time one leaves Kings Canyon to enter Sequoia National Park. In sum, this trip has the potential to blur into an extended showcase of a lot of viable timber. If that’s your thing, more power to you.
The main reason for visiting Sequoia National Park is, for most, to view the General Sherman tree, the largest tree (by volume) in the world. If there were ever a tree worth Instagramming, this would be it.
Upon reaching the trailhead to General Sherman’s deep-rooted abode, visitors find that they must descend a long, steep hillside. Signs warn that it takes twice the time to hike back up as it does to go down. Those like myself, who have toured multiple national parks, might recall similar warning signs posted around the precipitous trails within Grand Canyon National Park. Being weeks into my exploration of the Western United States and with several parks under my belt, I know these signs shouldn’t be taken lightly. The struggle is real.
And then, you reach a leveled spot of earth and see the General Sherman tree, looking like a supermodel among hobbits, all taller and flashier than everyone and whatnot. Be warned: This is one big tree, and it won’t easily fit into the Facebook photo you’ve been planning. Most will stand at the base, shooting up along Sherman’s trunk. To that I say: do not photograph yourself in a shot like this; no one should ever be seen from the chin up.
Photographic tips aside, once this moment is complete, rest assured you’ve reached the pinnacle of Sequoia National Park’s sights and may as well move on. Exiting at the park’s south end will bring you slowly down a hillside of hairpin turns, each dropping off to reveal miles of foliage. Beyond the gates, toward the base of the mountains, the trees slowly disappear until the dry, flat expanses of central California take over.
Perhaps I should be grateful for the trees, because the path ahead ensures I won’t see them again. I’m leaving the mountains behind to head west, in search of my first sight of coastline in several weeks.
Learn more about Sequoia National Park here.