I love to take people to see their first giant sequoia tree. You can kind of see them thinking, Yeah, yeah, yeah, we have big trees back home. But then they see their first sequoia and their minds are blown. It’s hard to blame their skepticism; the giants are so out of scale with any other tree. Even the Ponderosa pine doesn’t look so ponderous by comparison.
Visit Redwood Canyon and you will be surrounded by hundreds of giant sequoias. It feels like you are in one of those “Land that Time Forgot” movies. The prehistoric look is further enhanced with ferns, mosses, wild strawberries, grapes, and roses.
So Much To See
I try to do the Redwood Canyon/Hart Trail hike in late spring to early summer to catch the dogwoods in full bloom. There are so many dogwoods, in some areas it looks like snow. Paired with the majesty of the sequoias, it is really a spectacular walk.
The hike also has many interesting features along the way — it’s great for those with short attention spans. There’s an old trapper cabin built out of a fallen sequoia, which is starting to deteriorate. There’s a fallen sequoia that you can walk through and its charcoal-coated interior deadens all sound.
It also has the 24th largest sequoia, the Hart Tree, and there are multiple streams and waterfalls, an overlook that is a great place to stop for a rest, and fallen trees with huge rocks still clutched in the roots. I’ve even seen Sierra Fishers — small mammals that look like a weasel/otter hybrid — on this trail twice!
To get to the trail, simply head east on Highway 180 and follow the signs to Kings Canyon National Park. When you get to the entry booth, spring for an annual pass. You’ll feel the need to get your money’s worth and will head back up more often.
Shortly after you enter the park, you will make a right at the “Y.” In a few miles you’ll see a sign to Hume Lake to the left and a Redwood Canyon sign to the right. You won’t see the road right away because it is a dirt road that looks like an infinity pool. Take it anyway. You’ll drive about two miles on the dirt road. (Regular cars can drive the road easily, you don’t need an off road vehicle.) At the bottom, you’ll find a nice parking lot with toilets and bear boxes (they recommend removing any food from your car.)
I prefer the Hart Tree trail. You start out heading downhill (which means you’ll end the hike going uphill). You’ll see a sign for the loop trail to the left. You’ll end up back at this spot, so if you’re feeling rebellious you could go to the right. The trail is over 7 miles according to my hiking buddy Nicole’s GPS. We did it in 4 hours, but I’d plan on longer since there is so much to see. I don’t usually see too many people on this trail. If you can do a weekday, you will probably see fewer than 10 other hikers. I did get stuck behind a llama club once, but pets and animals are no longer allowed (sorry, Peeve).
We are lucky to live at the base of the Sierra Nevada and three National Parks. Please take some time to get up and enjoy them. Walking among the largest living beings on the planet is a special experience. When you consider that they are over 1,000 years old, it brings a new perspective to our time on this planet.
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