Sequoia’s main tourist 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 hike 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 Sequoia trees, 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.
STAY: With vaulted wood-beam ceilings, grand stone fireplaces, panoramic windows, and jagged mountain peaks all around it, Wuksachi Lodge makes an ideal base camp for exploring the park.
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.