Where to go for spectacular scenery, hiking, and giant trees
Think of this as Sequoia’s secret: a hidden valley up at 7,500 feet reached by a winding 28-mile road. It’s a trek, but you
won’t be sorry when you get there—Mineral King is gorgeous.
For moderate hiking, take the 4.5-mile one-way trail to Upper and Lower Monarch Lakes.
You can backpack to camp here ($15 wilderness permit required; purchase at Mineral King Ranger Station), camp at nearby Cold Springs or Atwell Mill campgrounds, or stay at the rustic cabins of Silver City Mountain Resort on Mineral King Road.
Size matters: This 2,100-year-old giant sequoia, in Giant Forest, is the largest (by volume) tree on Earth, weighing in at
an estimated 1,385 tons.
Like many of the parks’ trees, it was named in the 1870s for a leader in the recently fought Civil War—in this case Union Army general William Tecumseh Sherman.
On Crescent Meadow Road near Giant Forest, a tunnel was burrowed through this fallen sequoia, making it the only tree you can drive through in Sequoia or Kings Canyon. If you’re piloting a giant SUV, consider taking the bypass.
This giant dome of granite rises above the Giant Forest sequoia grove. Climb the 400 stone steps to Moro’s summit, and you’ll get some of the best views in California.
Get up close and personal to many giant sequoias in this aptly-named section of the park. The 2-mile Congress Trail takes you on an easy loop through.
At 14,494 feet, it’s the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. And it doesn’t take any mountain climbing expertise
or technical climbing equipment (at least not from mid-July to early October) to tackle the 22-mile round-trip trail to the
summit—just lots of stamina. Thousands of people do it each year.
Information on the hike (and necessary permit) available from the U.S. Forest Service.
Against a backdrop of Sierra Nevada domes, Zumwalt Meadow glows green and gold in the sunlight. With its flat, gentle trails, the meadow is great for kids—and makes an ideal introduction to the park.
Time to sing “Deck the Halls.” In the park, the spectacular grove of giant sequoias includes the General Grant Tree, officially “The Nation’s Christmas Tree.” You’d need lots of tinsel to decorate its boughs: This particular giant is 268 feet tall and 107 feet around.