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Trail Of The Sequoias

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park Links:

July 3rd, 1999

9.0 miles
1200 vertical feet
Total Time: 5:54

Rating: 8/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

CJ, Jean, Jennie, Weihaw and I hiked in Sequoia National park.

The trail starts at the crowded General Sherman tree area. After passing the largest living thing on earth, we continued on the paved trail which is part of the Congress Trail.

As we took the fork past the Chief Sequoyah Tree, the crowds thinned out. We could hear the ominous sound of thousands (millions?) of bugs buzzing in the distance. Fortunately, their sound is bigger than their bite. The horse flies of the Ventana Wilderness are much more vicious.

Weihaw on top of a fallen sequoia

From the Chief Sequoyah Tree, the Trail of the Sequoias is 2.5 miles through nondescript sequoia forest to Tharps Log. This is on the northern end of Log Meadow, part of the Crescent Meadow hike. We stopped here for lunch while enjoying the view of the meadow. Since it's only a mile away from the nearest parking area, we had plenty of company. Families with kids gathered around the log to investigate.

Log Meadow

After lunch we continued past the Chimney Tree, a large, hollow, still-standing sequoia killed by fire. We passed the northern edge of Crescent Meadow and continued on toward Huckleberry Meadow. Here there's a log cabin called Squatters Cabin. Near the cabin is a wonderful view of the meadow. As Jennie said, it was like looking at a big movie theater screen. We stood in the shaded sequoia forest while looking out onto the bright green meadow.

Huckleberry Meadow

Absent from our hike was the presence of morels. When I'd hiked this just a month earlier their were morels to be found frequently. But it was much warmer now, and they were nowhere to be found. The bright red alien-looking flowers were nowhere to be found, either -- though we'd find some shriveled-up ones later in the hike.

The trail continues up through sequoia forest dotted with green meadow patches. But soon the forest thins out noticeably, perhaps due to fire. Over the ridge, however, it becomes lush with bushes. Jennie noticed some rustling in the bushes and Weihaw spotted two bear cubs! We soon spied the mother, as well. The cubs were cute, small, brown bears. The mother was much black, much larger, but still only the size of a large dog. We were on the opposite side of a valley from them, perhaps 200 feet away. They seemed unconcerned with us, much as deer are while foraging for dinner. We pointed the bears out to other hikers coming up the trail. We all watched and took photographs.

Baby Bear

Mama Bear!

Eventually they began to wander further out of sight, and we continued down the trail. Shortly, a runner passed us from behind; I bet he could run right by a bear and never notice him.

Crossing a fallen tree to the Washington Tree

We turned right onto the Alta Trail, and continued right at the junction toward Crescent Meadow. Near the Washington Tree we passed through one of the nicest sequoia groves I've seen. It's filled with some of the largest sequoias in the forest, and no other people in sight. It's less than 2 miles away from the General Sherman Tree, but seems another world away. After crossing a downed tree over a creek, we came upon the Washington Tree. Whereas the General Sherman Tree is fenced off, we can get right up to the Washington Tree and touch it. It boldly stands out from the other trees, and is almost as large as the General Sherman Tree -- 250 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter. Visually, because the forest is sparser here, it appears larger than the General Sherman Tree. This area is definitely the highlight of this hike.

Looking up at the Sequoias

Washington Tree

Hugging the Washington Tree

We circled around the Circle Meadow, turning left toward the Senate Group. We shortly found ourselves hiking amongst closely-packed giants. I couldn't help but stop and look up several times. When we reached the other side and stepped onto the paved Congress Trail, we saw that we had just passed right through the Senate Group sequoias.

Circle Meadow

Then it was less than a mile back to the cars, back to the crowds.

Update: The Washington tree was damaged in a fire in the summer of 2003. Gone are 16-23 feet of height and the characteristic branch that made it look like it was waving at you.

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