“In the vast Sierra wilderness far to the southward of the famous Yosemite Valley, there is a yet grander valley of the same kind.” ~ John Muir (1891)
John Muir, famous naturalist, wrote this about the ground we trod on today, Sequoia National Park. Second only to Yellowstone National Park, relative to age, Sequoia was established on September 25, 1890. This grand valley spans 404,063 acres and is one of California’s more special and least visited treasures, most likely because it is a wee bit off the beaten path. That seems to be the only logical explanation because with what it has to offer, no one should miss this gem.
Surrounded by a valley laden with fruit orchards, olive groves, and small farms, we are getting our fill of fresh fruits and vegetables and by the end of our stay, we’ll be saying the same about hiking. What a beautiful setting to get out into nature and the weather is darn near perfect, especially when you head up about 7000 feet into the park.
Some fun facts about Sequoia National Park:
- It has the largest tree in the world within its boundaries – General Sherman Tree.
- On the eastern border of the park rises the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states – Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet.
- It has the second largest “road-free” wilderness area in the U.S. (84% of the park can only be accessed on foot or by horseback).
- It is home to over 240 known caves, including California’s longest at over 20 miles.
Follow the signs to the parking lot and take the 350ish stairs to the top of this granite dome, which tops out at 6725 feet. It’s the ‘ish‘ that could be a problem for those who don’t like heights or a steady uphill climb. The first 350 steps are a breeze!
Take a walk through this mystical land of stately giants, where General Sherman tree resides and a host of sentinels stand guard over him. Five of the ten largest sequoia live in the Giant Forest. Washington Tree, second largest of these magnificent specimen, also lives here.
Drive your vehicle through this fallen sequoia for a little perspective. This sequoia fell on December 4, 1937. The diameter of its base was 21 feet and it was the height of General Sherman Tree, 275 feet. The tunnel that can be driven through is 8 feet high and 17 feet across.
Take a stroll through this pristine meadow on your way to Tharp’s Log. We were hoping for a bear in the meadow but all we got were two deer (not in this photo).
Hale Tharp, pioneer resident of Three Rivers, first visited Giant Forest (which is where Tharp’s Log was built) in 1858. He built this rustic cabin at the end of a giant sequoia and lived here from 1861 until the National Park was established in 1890. He used Crescent Meadows for his livestock.
Giant, cinnamon-colored sequoia, granite domes rising from the valley floor, roaring rivers and waterfalls, alpine meadows, and 800 miles of hiking trails in this grand valley are certainly enough to tantalize any nature lover. We look forward to hiking some of her trails in the upcoming days.
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