Peaceful Giants

Sequoia National Park, America's second-oldest, is a rich repository of red behemoths. The main attraction is the General…

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Sequoia National Park, America’s second-oldest, is a rich repository of red behemoths. The main attraction is the General Sherman tree, literally the largest living thing on earth. Hordes of visitors make the easy 0.4-mile mini-pilgrimage to see the General, but a funny thing happens if you go just a few minutes beyond: the people disappear! By continuing on the Congress Trail and hooking up with the Trail of the Sequoias, you’ll be hiking through the heart of Giant Forest, where mule deer and chipmunks may be your only companions.

The forest is filled with big red beauties rising toward the sky like ancient columns. In a few miles you’ll reach the northern edge of Sequoia’s number-two attraction, Crescent Meadow. Take a peek at Tharp’s Log—a fallen, hollow giant Sequoia that was once the home of an old, resourceful pioneer. Make a loop back to General Sherman, passing more impressive groves with names like “The House” and “The Senate.” These big trees always get the people’s vote.

A map is a must. Pick up a Giant Forest map from any of the park’s visitor centers. Look for the Trail of the Sequoias/Circle Meadow Loop description on the back. From the General Sherman Tree, take the Congress Trail. Just past the President Tree, take the Trail of the Sequoias. Follow this for about 2 miles; make a right down to Log Meadow at the first trail intersection. Continue to Tharp’s Log and Chimney Tree. Head north via Circle Meadow until the trail links back up with the Congress Trail, which takes you back to the start. No dogs.

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