Travel Date: mid August 2016
- packed lunch, water, snacks (we went on rout 180 and there were only 2 places that did not look good enough to stop at)
- car with good gas mileage and GPS
- comfortable shoes
- gas before you go! (its rare to find a gas station close to/in the park)
Start: First off, I want to say that if you do not enjoy walking through the woods and looking at nature then this is not the place to go for you. There is not much entertainment besides walking on paths and looking at large trees, as my mom put it. I happen to love exploring and spend a considerable amount of time outside, so I loved the Sequoias. Also there is still a decent amount of driving throughout the park, but not nearly as much as Yosemite. You can take the shuttle buses but we rented a car so we can stop and go wherever we want. It is a big park that is somewhat forgotten since Yosemite is more popular and widely known so it tends to have less tourism but I still recommend going early to avoid the tourist and large groups.
We staid at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino because it was one of the only places in between Yosemite and the Sequoia’s ( about 2 hours to each park) and we did not want to keep changing hotels. We left at 7am and it took 2 hours to get into the park. Keep your eye out for large Sequoia trees on the way into the park! There are lots of huge trees you drive by, unfortunately there is no place to pull over on the side of the road. There was NO cell service in and around the park so make sure you write or print out what you want to do. This park is split into 2 sections, the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. The cost to enter was $30 per car or $15 per person and they give you a map and a sticker to put so you can go between the two parks without paying twice. There was considerably less people here compared to Yosemite National park and therefore there was more parking and less annoyances.
Giant Forest/General Sherman Tree:
Path: medium, paved, steep downhill, shuttle bus back up
Location: Sequoia National Park
We arrived here at 10:30 and there were only a few people here, it got more crowded as we were leaving (around 12). I went here with my parents (who are both in their 50’s) and we did not have a problem walking down to the tree below, even though some parts where there are stairs and the path winds were pretty steep. Walking back up we stopped at the frequently places benches so my dad could rest, but it was still very doable. The entrance is small and there are a lot of historical articles that are places all over the park if you want to know more information. Once you get to the bottom there is the giant General Sherman Tree (world’s largest tree, measured by volume) a large base of a Sequoia that was cut down so you could see all of the rings, a tree where you can stand inside of, and a paved pathway for light hiking. The park rangers don’t allow you to walk off the paved trails because it is harmful to the growth of the surrounding environment. With this being said, you wont be able to go up and touch the trees here or hike off the beaten path much. There were waves of people that would come and go taking pictures in front of the General Sherman Tree, it did not take long to get our picture taken since there were not many people there. We also traveled along the hiking path that led into the woods and spotted some beautiful and peaceful views. It was a nice walk, highly recommended if you want to just enjoy nature.
Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow:
Path: medium, dirt/plant coverage
Location: Sequoia National Park
I found this location on Pinterest. It was listed as Crescent Meadow but to find it you have to go to Moro Rock. Once you leave from the Giant Forest and pass the Giant Forest Museum your going to want to take the next right after the Museum. The roads are labeled but there is a handicap parking lot that hides the roadway so that you wont see it at first. Once on the road it does get pretty narrow so small cars are always a plus.
On your way to the meadow you will pass the Tunnel Underpass. The original tunnel that you might have seen on Pinterest does not exist anymore and here is why. But this tunnel is just as fun! I volunteered to hop out of the car and take a quick picture. There were thankfully not many cars on this trail so you do have time to stop. There is a bypass road next to it so you don’t have to wait if there is a backup of cars or if you have a taller vehicle.
After passing under the Tunnel Underpass we arrived at Crescent Meadow. The only place to sit and eat or rest is where you park at the beginning of the trails. It is a nice picnic area away from the main roads and crowds. We wanted to see Tharps Log, which is .8 miles from the start of the path at Crescent Meadow. The trails in this area had labels to where certain sites were, but they only were at the beginning. We found after walking for a couple of minutes, the path diverges multiple ways. It took some walking to figure out what path we should continue on. Stay on the path that is somewhat paved/stone. We ended up hitting what looked like overgrown bushes and a fallen tree that the park had not fixed. If you keep walking into what looks like an overgrown bush, you should see a narrow, worn path where people went around. We did not see the path at first because we didn’t walk completely into the overgrown bush, instead we tried to find an alternative way around but you had to cross over a small river and it was too muddy and slippery for my parents. Once we finally got around the broken path we walked for about 20 minutes to finally find Tharp’s Log. We were a little disappointed with the lack of information and obvious deterioration, but it was a nice walk where you can get closer to some pretty big Sequoia Trees (and actually touch, or hug them).
General Grant Tree:
Path: easy, paved
Location: Kings Canyon
After leaving the meadow, we made our way to Kings Canyon. We arrived at the General Grant Tree by 4pm and not many people were there. It was a short 2 mile drive out of the sequoia park and into Kings Canyon. There was plenty of parking near the General Grant Tree. There was short walking paths that all circled back to the parking lot. Aside from the Grant tree you could also read some history and walk through a hollowed out Sequoia.
Recommendations: Bringing a cooler with extra water was a wise choice (thanks mom) and snacks were not necessary but useful. If you want to visit all of these places I have listed I would do them in the order that is listed. This seemed the most convenient way to avoid the crowds and driving wise it was easy and fast. Towards the end we all got a little tired and Grant was the best way to end because of the short, easy walking paths. It’s also the closest to the exit (took us about 3 minutes). Also please remember nature needs time to grow and the more you walk off the paths, pick at flowers, and leave trash, the harder it is for nature to flourish (also there could be a heavy fine) so just be respectful and aware.