Kings Canyon National Park
Grant Grove and the General Grant
The General Grant Tree is called
"The Nation's Christmas Tree," and special Yuletide celebrations are
held under its snow-laden branches every year in Grant Grove. Measuring 267.4
feet tall and 107.6 feet around, it is the earth's second-largest tree. While
still a youngster at 1,800 to 2,000 years old, the beautiful behemoth is the
star attraction of a grove of 2,000 and 3,000-year-old sequoias, including the
254.7-foot-tall Robert E. Lee. In 1890, Congress created General Grant National
Park to protect Grant Grove. It later was absorbed by Kings Canyon National
Park in 1940. While walking the Grant Grove trail, you'll also see the historic Gamlin Cabin and Fallen Monarch Tree, in which the cavalry guarding the park
stabled their horses in the 1890s.
Kings Canyon and the Kings River
"A rival to the Yosemite," wrote Muir, describing one of the canyons of
the mighty Kings River. It is an awesome sight to behold the white water of
this wild river as it rushes between the granite canyon walls. Above the South
Fork of the Kings River, in the deepest part of Kings River canyon, the granite
cliffs rise more than 8,000 feet from river to ridge. Many visitors are surprised
to learn that this river-carved section of the canyon is thousands of feet deeper
than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Grove, Grand Sentinel, & North Dome
36 mile-drive along Hwy. 180, from the entrance to Kings Canyon National Park
to Cedar Grove Village, is known as the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. This is a beautiful drive which zigzags down into the canyon passing many wonderful sights
on the way. Be sure to stop at Junction View, where the sheer canyon walls seem
to close in around you, as the wild South Fork of the Kings River surges over
rapids far below. Deep in the heart of Kings Canyon, Cedar Grove is a lush place
of tumbling waterfalls, meadows, and miles of quiet hiking trails. It is near
two spectacular granite formations: Grand Sentinel, which rises 3,500 feet above
the canyon floor, and North Dome, which many liken to Half Dome in Yosemite.
Other highlights are the noisy and powerful Roaring River Falls, and the beautifully
scenic Zumwalt Meadow.
On Hwy. 180 heading towards Cedar
Grove, you'll find the entrance to Boyden Cavern in Kings Canyon, Giant
Sequoia National Monument. Daily tours
are conducted during summer; call 1(209)736-2708, toll free
(866)762-2837, or visit:
Photo was taken at Boyden
Cavern. © Sierra Nevada Recreation Corporation, P.O. Box 78,
Vallecito, CA 95251, USA
Big Stump Trail
Near the entrance to Kings Canyon
National Park is the Big Stump Basin Trail. The one-mile trail reveals the remains
of early sequoia logging. Along the trail you'll find the Mark Twain Stump,
it is all that remains of the 26-foot-wide, 1,700-year-old tree that took 2
men 13 days to cut down in 1891. Ironically, sequoia wood was brittle and broke
across the grain when it fell, so it was useless as timber. Nevertheless, the
early loggers proceeded to chop down and carry away one-third of the ancient
At Grant Grove village, you can take
a 2.3-mile road to Panoramic Point. A short trail will take you to the 7,520-foot-high
ridge, with a magnificent view of the High Sierra, including Hume Lake and the
Sequoia National Park
Forest and the General Sherman Tree
in 1875 by explorer and conservationist John Muir, the Giant Forest is celebrated
for its beautiful meadows and sequoia grove. The Big Trees may be seen today
as Muir found them: "Giants grouped in pure temple groves, or arranged in colonnades
along the sides of meadows." The northern fringe of the grove is guarded by
the 274.9-foot-tall General Sherman Tree, the world's largest living tree, and
a few of his troops, including the 246.1-foot-tall Washington Tree. The
2-mile looping Congress Trail provides access.
Moro Rock is a large granite dome
found in the Giant Forest area. You can take a quarter-mile trail and climb
up nearly 400 steep steps to the top of Moro Rock, where you'll have an unparalleled
view (especially at sunset) of the Great Western Divide.
Auto Log & Tunnel Log
the Moro Rock-Crescent Meadow Road, you will see Auto Log, on which you can
drive your car, and Tunnel Log, a fallen sequoia that you can drive through.
John Muir is said to have called
this lovely, grassy open area the "gem of the Sierra." It is located 10 miles
east of Moro Rock. A hike on the trail around the meadow takes about an hour.
Tharp, the first non-Native American settler in the area, established a cattle
ranch among the Big Trees. He also built a simple summer cabin from a fallen,
fire-hollowed sequoia log in the 1860s. Muir called it "a noble den." It is
the oldest pioneer cabin in the park and is located in the Giant Forest area.
The parks protect more than 200 caves,
including Crystal Cave. Formed of limestone that has turned into marble, it
is decorated with curtains of icicle-like stalactites and mounds of stalagmites.
The cave can be toured in summer only. Call (559) 565-3759 for information.
Hospital Rock, several miles northeast
of the Southern entrance to Sequoia National Park, was the home of a subgroup
of the Monache people until the 1870s. You can see pictographs, as well as nearly
50 grinding spots used by Monache women to grind acorns into flour.
Located at the end of a 25-mile winding
road near the Southern entrance to Sequoia National Park, this glacial valley
was named by 19th century prospectors searching for silver. With 11 different
trails, Mineral King is a hikers' heaven.
Crowning the Sierra Nevada, majestic
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. To reach
Mount Whitney from western trailheads, backpackers take a 70-mile, 8-day trek.
It takes one to two days from eastern trailheads. The trek is so popular that
special permits are required from the National Park Service