Larger Than Life
By volume the General Sherman Sequoia located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia is the largest known living single stem tree on earth! At around 2,300-2,700 years old, this is definitely an example of nature's powerful presence.
As you travel down the spiraling walkway you will quickly have the feeling of being in a truly majestic giant forest as the trees grow larger and larger with each step down in elevation. You cannot truly experience the shear size and fortitude of nature until you enter this thousands year old forest deep within the Sequoia National Forest. Trees as tall as skyscrapers, with trunks so large it would take many men just to stretch around it, roots so huge that it looks like trees themselves running along the ground.
Our walk began as a cold damp one, the temperature was hovering around 25 and there was a wet mist in the air. The trail down to General Sherman is a well worn smooth paved walkway that has transported thousands/millions of visitors to this ancient forest each year. I carried a light Columbia rain jacket and my Osprey Rev 18 pack outfitted with just water and a light snack. The entrance to the trail has some great information about Giant Sequoias, and General Sherman in particular. Standing at 274.9 feet, General Sherman is not the tallest tree in the world, but at 52,500 cubic feet it is the most voluminous tree in the world.
Trails go off in many directions within the Giant Sequoia forest, enabling you to quietly stroll through one of mother nature’s greatest wonders, at time you will feel as though this must actually be a giant’s forest and you are very small indeed. You can see normal sized trees next to these giants which really put these giants into perspective. The Giant Forest section offers 40 miles of trails, two of which — the General Sherman Tree Trail and the Big Trees Trail — lead directly to the General Sherman Tree. Trail guides are available at visitor centers, and park rangers can give you more information. Another way to reach the tree is by taking the free Sequoia Shuttle, which operates daily from the end of May to the end of September. Route 1 on the green bus stops at the General Sherman Tree, as well as the Giant Forest Museum and the Lodgepole Visitor Center and Campground.
The trunk of the General Sherman Tree could theoretically be turned into almost 120 miles of standard sized lumber planks (Thank goodness they are protected from lumbering). A branch that fell from the tree in 1978 had a diameter greater than six feet and was at least 140 feet long — larger than any tree in the United States east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. The General Sherman is not the only giant tree in Sequoia National Park; in fact, the five largest trees in the world are all located in the park, with three others found in the Giant Forest section.
This is a perfect outing for any family, a relatively easy walk (somewhat steep inclination at times though), with easy access. If you are within the Sequoia/Kings Canyon area or on your way to Yosemite be sure you don’t miss this chance to see a larger than life example of mother nature at her finest, you won’t regret it!