Sequoia National Park – Yes, There is Another California Park Besides Yosemite

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This is a very short story about a trip to Sequoia National Park in 2015.  Perhaps I shall expand on it someday.

When I was a kid and first saw a Sequoia tree, you could walk right up to General Sherman and give him a scratchy hug that resulted in tiny sequoia bark fibers clinging to your clothes. Many years later, we discovered that the National Park Service has changed all that.

Today Sequoia National Park is a beautiful preservation of these amazing trees. The park has removed the commercialism of the early 20th century and converted previously private land into breathtaking walks through the trees. General Sherman has a new entrance from the “backside” that descends from the old Wolverton ski/sled hill.  (There’s a funny childhood story there that involves an inner tube and a little sister and a stream and a floating boot but we’ll save that for another time).


Hiking to General Sherman

As you take this path down, passing visitors from all over the world, signs tell you at what height of the tree you’re at. You can’t see the tree but the anticipation of knowing you’re only “half-way up from the base of the tree” is exciting. Then you come across another surprise – the footprint of General Sherman is outlined on the ground in bricks. It’s inconceivably massive, can’t fit it into your average camera lens. Now you really can’t wait!

Finally this piece of Earth’s history comes into view. All the people staring up at it look like tiny humans feeling very small and insignificant compared to this giant who has stood through centuries watching tiny humans go about their business. The area is busy but it’s quiet, as if no one wants to bother the General on his watch. We take a loop around and try to take pictures which will never do this thick-skinned tree justice. There are trails going in various directions to see Sherman’s younger family members, each still very capable of straining your neck. We zigged and zagged before heading to another area of the park.

Bottom half of the largest tree on Earth, General Sherman

Big Trees Trail

We saw a picture perfect meadow on our way to General Sherman that we wanted to explore. It’s called Big Trees Trail. As soon as we arrived at the beginning of the loop around the meadow, every person coming out said “there’s a bear cub somewhere in there but we didn’t see the mom.” Most people would say that’s when you shouldn’t be around for your safety and so forth but of course we went charging in to find it.

On our way we noticed an evil marmot perched on a sequoia root. As we were trying to pass him and get a look at a cute little ferret near the trail, the marmot charged us! We later learned that this is not unusual behavior according to

After we finally threw the marmot off by running in different directions, we came around a curve to where the cub was having a great time picnicking on meadow grasses. We’ll never know how close we came to being eaten by mama bear but we certainly did enjoy watching this little guy tear into dead logs like they were tissue paper. The marmot was nowhere to be found.

Read more about bears and their diet.

If you’re planning a trip to California, be sure to include Sequoia National Park in your plans.  Yosemite is indeed beautiful but you won’t be disappointed if you travel just a bit south of that to take in these big trees that exist nowhere else on the planet. 

Personal Note:  I grew up living in National Parks because my father worked for them.  I love our parks and will write more about Sequoia National Park and other parks in the near future.  Stay tuned!