The Giant Forest Area

Sequoia National Park
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The centerpiece of Sequoia National Park is the Giant Forest, home to the world’s biggest tree (by volume) and the best sequoia grove, by far, for hiking. It has the most singletrack trails of any sequoia grove, it has one of the best collections of really big trees, and it hasn’t been logged. The forest is very open but still has, in many places, an attractively lush groundcover, and it has some especially scenic meadows to add variety.

Next to the Giant Forest are the Lodgepole and Wolverton trailheads, which are the starting point for three excellent high-country day hikes: the easy Tokopah Falls Trail, the challenging Lakes Trail, and the very challenging Alta Peak Trail. If you have enough time I think a great itinerary would be one sequoia hike and one high country hike. However, keep in mind that ascending is noticably more difficult than at sea level.

The Giant Forest Museum

Sequoia hikes

**** Wolverton Cutoff (9.6 miles, 1380 feet)
A superb hike that combines the alpine views of the High Sierra Trail with a pass through the best part of the Giant Forest, this hike is a great introduction to Sequoia National Park.

**** Round Meadow (1.9 miles, 150 feet)
This easy route to Round Meadow passes through some of the park’s most scenic sequoia stands while also avoiding the worst of the crowds.

*** Sevenmile Loop (14.9 miles, 2580 feet)
A longer version of the Wolverton Cutoff loop, this loop climbs into the high country before returning to the Giant Forest.

*** Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow (7.3 miles, 1360 feet)
This route connects two of the park’s best-known attractions and also includes plenty of sequoias.

*** The Congress Trail (2.9 miles, 470 feet)
The most popular trail in the park features the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world.

*** Muir Grove (4.2 miles, 530 feet)
A short trail from Dorst Campground leads to the superb Muir Grove, but the trail ends at the edge of the grove and doesn’t actually pass through it.

Bear’s Bathtub Trail, Giant Forest

High country hikes

***** Bearpaw High Sierra Camp (13.2 miles, 2000 feet)
This hike leads to a full-service tent camp at the edge of the high country, with hot meals and showers. Also described on this page are optional day hikes to the spectacular Hamilton Lake and to the Redwood Meadow Grove of giant sequoias.

**** The Alta Peak Trail (13.7 miles, 3920 feet)
A very challenging hike to a Sierra summit that can be done in a day, this trail offers superb views and intriguing alpine scenery.

*** Pear Lake (12.0 miles, 3000 feet)
This challenging trail climbs above the treeline to a series of very scenic glacially-formed lakes.

*** The Tokopah Falls Trail (4.1 miles, 530 feet)
One of the most popular trails in the park, the Tokopah Falls Trail leads through a typical Sierra canyon to a large cascade.

** The Twin Lakes Trail (14.1 miles, 2800 feet)
A somewhat monotonous climb to a pair of glacially-formed lakes. Not as scenic as the Lakes Trail, this route is mainly used by backpackers to access the miles of backcountry trails beyond the Twin Lakes.

Aster Lake, on the Pear Lake hike

Foothill hikes

** The Middle Fork Trail (9.8 miles, 2260 feet)
The Middle Fork Trail is a low-elevation hike through chaparral- and hardwood-covered foothills.


© 2011, 2012, 2018 David Baselt