Sequoia National Park
Would you like to travel two thousand years into the past, to an enchanted forest? You don’t have a time machine? Don’t worry, you just need to make your way to Sequoia National Park and to the Giant Forest. There, you’ll find the giant Sequoia trees, some are two thousand years old. Make your way up the windy road to the forest and prepare to be amazed!
This visit was a short introduction to the Sequoia’s with my brother and his family, a 3-day weekend road trip from my home in Southern California to Central California. In the middle of summer, the heat was overwhelming with the temperature of 103 degrees (Fahrenheit) at the park entrance, at the bottom of the mountain. The temperature in park, with an elevation of 6,000 feet or higher depending on your location, was 75 degrees. We arrived at the park gate at 2:30 pm and made our way through the windy mountain road up to the forest. On the way, there are several turnouts and lookout points with spectacular panoramics. Construction work delayed our ascent to the forest but I would say it would take about 30 minutes to drive from the entrance to the forest without any stops. A sign is posted along the road for the Giant Forest but it isn’t really needed. The giant Sequoias are a telling sign.
There are many attractions in the park but we had little time to spare since this was just a weekend trip. We made our way to one of the top attractions, the General Sherman Tree. This is the largest tree in the world and thousands of tourist flock to see it and the summer season means high numbers of tourists and vehicles. The General Sherman Tree is a massive and impressive tree but I’d prefer an intimate hike than a crowded trail full of tourist. We admired the majestic trees as we drove around the park and back down the mountain. Our accommodations would be a motel near the entrance of the park in the small town of Three Rivers. The next morning would bring an early start to the day. We left the motel at 8:30 am and made our way back up the mountain. This time it was just my brother and I. The windy road had made my brother’s wife and their daughter nauseous and they decided to stay in the room. People with motion sickness beware, the road may cause sickness. The motel even provides sickness bags.
Our first stop was a small field I saw the previous day with tall flowers. Quite amazing as this little field is surrounded by the tall Sequoia’s and only gets sunlight for a few hours. Parking is limited to 5 or 6 cars along the road so I wanted to visit this field before the throng of tourist made their way here. The flowers were amazing, bright yellow standing out in the green of the forest. The flowers were accompanied by hundreds of bees so we didn’t venture to far into the field.
This location also provided trails that ventured into the forest, and that’s exactly what we did. This was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the sequoias, and, no large crowds. Hiking here is like walking in an enchanted forest, a walk in time, some 2,000 years ago.
Our time was limited so we had to move on. The next attraction was Moro Rock where you can get a wonderful panoramic view of the valley below. The road is closed so you have to park at the museum parking lot and take a shuttle to Moro Rock. Again, get there early, we arrived at 10:30 am and the parking lot was closed. I had to park along the side of the road, below a hill, which may or may not have been a parking area. Moro Rock is a half mile, round trip, up steep rock steps to a bird’s-eye view of the valley. It’s well worth the effort and I recommend the visit.
Next on the itinerary was a hike in Crestview Meadows. It happens to be along the same road as Moro Rock so we jumped back into a shuttle van which ferried us to the Crestview Meadow Trail. Again, this is a less traveled trail so I was in heaven. The further you get away from the parking lot the less people you see and the forest opens up in front of your eyes.
You also have the opportunity to enter the grassland and explore a portion of the meadow. It is wet and boggy so plan on taking your waterproof hiking shoes if you wish to enter the meadow for some great photos.
The trail is a 1.6 mile loop where you can see, chimney tree, a completely hollowed out tree, and Tharp’s log. Tharp made a home out of a fallen sequoia tree and lived here until these mountains were designated a national park in 1890. Unfortunately, he was forced to leave his tree.
Sequoia National Park was an amazing visit and I highly recommend it. I do suggest staying in the park whether you camp, rent a cabin or stay in the lodge. The alternative is staying at the bottom of the mountain, like I did, and having to traverse the winding road more than once. No matter which option you prefer, it’s well worth the effort.