Sequoia National Park is generally viewed as a smaller park but there is so much to do and see in this wonderful area. You could spend days exploring the miles and miles of trail system. We only had one day and I really think we nailed it! Here is our trip through one day in Sequoia National Park.
We started out our day in Sequoia at the Giant Forest Museum. This is where you will find the Sentinel Tree. The Museum itself has a ton of interesting information about the life cycle of Sequoias and why they are so remarkable. I loved getting this information right off the bat and having it in the back of my mind as I encountered all of the different trees with their unique growth, burn scars and history. It enriched the whole experience.
There is a modern bathroom right next to the museum. From the museum, you can either hop on a free shuttle that takes you to the park highlights or you can get on a hiking path and see what you can see. You do not have to use the shuttle system to navigate the park, you can drive if you want to, but on busy days the shuttle is definitely the best option.
We decided to do a little hiking. We headed toward Big Tree Trail, circumnavigating Round Meadow. We were just kind of toddling around without a plan but this was a serendipitous encounter. Halfway around the trail, we came across a black bear munching away in the tall plants. He (or she) was all by himself, just having a snack. A couple rangers let us know it was okay if we got close to take pictures as long as we stayed on the trail and did not intentionally bother the bear. I was tearing up a little being able to see such a wild animal looking so calm and content in his natural environment. It was a wonderful moment to participate in, as all the hikers automatically calmed and quieted as they came upon the bear.
From Round Meadow, we drove to the Moro Rock trailhead. We opted to drive, instead of taking the shuttle, since it was not yet peak season and we could get around easily. Moro Rock is a .3 mile hike with over 350 stairs that offers the best views of the surrounding area. Even though the trail is steep and exposed, there are railings in all of the dangerous people. If you are debating doing this hike because you are afraid of heights, give it a shot. It is not as scary as it initially looks, due to the railings, and you can always turn back if it gets to be too much.
After Moro Rock, we headed toward Tunnel Log and Crescent Meadow since all three features are on the same road. There is more than one Tunnel Log in the park, but this is the famous one that covers the road and allows cars to pass through. The tunnel is only 9 feet high but there is a bypass in case your vehicle is too tall to fit through. I am super glad we hit Sequoia before the peak season because we actually got the tunnel all to ourselves for a bit, allowing us to take some fun pictures and videos.
We drove all the way to Crescent Meadow but only lingered long enough to eat lunch. It is worth the stop – John Muir christened it “the gem of the Sierras” for a reason.
Next, we drove to the General Sherman Tree. This is the world’s largest tree by mass. There are taller trees and wider trees, buy General Sherman has them all beat by mass. The most impressive thing about General Sherman is that it is still growing, it’s trunk widening every day. The trail to General Sherman is really easy and short, good for anyone.
Tip for getting a full tree in one photo: use the “panorama” setting on your phone. Shout out to Robyn for figuring this out!
From the General Sherman Tree, there are a ton of meandering hikes, wandering off in every direction through the Giant Forest. We hiked the Rimrock Trail back to the Giant Forest Museum. We “ooh’d” and “ah’d” our way right through this hike as we were able to get right up to some magnificent trees.
Once we arrived at the Giant Forest Museum we were able to hop on a shuttle and take it back to our car near the General Sherman Tree. I would highly recommend getting in an extended hike in Sequoia, even if it is just a mile or so. Walking amongst the monarchs, getting away from other people for a bit, truly changes the experience.
That was pretty much the end of our day. Our hearts were full and our stomachs were empty so we headed to our campground at Stony Creek. Read about our campground experience here. Learn about adding Kings Canyon National Park to your trip here.
Find out about an awesome and convenient campground for these parks here.
*It is worth noting that we visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon just before peak season, at the tail end of spring. This meant that there were very little in the way of crowds and we were able to get up close and personal with a lot of the attractions. This also meant that some of the “closed in winter” roads were still closed due to snow and we had to skip some of the other attractions. As you plan your trip, keep in mind what will be open and what might still be closed. Also, keep in mind that you might have more crowds than we did.