Photos & Text By Laura Gwinn Heberlein
Sequoias are among the oldest and largest trees in the world, with 40’ wide bases, up to 311’ high, and as old as 3,500 years old. Standing next to one of these wonders, your inner existentialist will come out – you will feel oh-so-tiny and oh-so-insignificant. My common-law hubby and I have visited Sequoia National Park multiple times and every time fall more in love with it. The Congress Trail contains a vast majority of record-size sequoias including General Sherman. It feels much like walking through a museum in the outdoors, and nature clearly is a phenomenal curator. The Washington Tree located in the Giant Forest on a spur off the Alta Trail, is a personal favorite of mine. Once the second largest (second to Sherman) tree by volume in the world until two separate incidents of a lightning strike and snowstorm in the early 2000s caused its crown to collapse. It’s still alive today with a stout character that appeals to me like no other sequoia. It is the epitome of survival strength.
The High Sierra Trail is a breathtaking hike in the park that quite impressively leads from Crescent Meadow eventually crossing the Great Western Divide all the way to Mount Whitney. The trail skirts a ridge through the park with constant views of the sun-kissed mountains, giant boulders, and a view of the park’s picturesque granite dome, Moro Rock. Just a mile or so hike down you will pass two stunning vistas along the way: Bobcat Point and Eagle View. Bring your camera, the view of the mountains and river valley is a memory worth collecting.
The trails of Sequoia National Park are some of the most memorable hiking trails one could ever set foot on. You would think most of the time your focus would simply be on the magnitude of the sheer size of these towering trees. But for me it is the combination of the sequoias with their surroundings: canyons, wildlife, flowing rivers, the open forest, the Sierra Nevadas and the warm sunny weather that makes this landscape such a special place and an unforgettable experience.