This national forest is best known for the giant sequoia, the largest tree in the world. While these towering mammoths are spectacular, the park has much more to offer the outdoor enthusiast in the way of towering cliffs, rushing rivers, and placid lakes. You can hike or travel via ATV, mountain bike, or horseback through the 1,500 miles of maintained roads, 1000 miles of abandoned roads, and 850 miles of trails. You can enjoy boating, fishing, water-skiing, swimming, whitewater rafting, and kayaking in the warmer months. In winter, you can go downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. In addition to black bears, animals that roam the forest include coyotes, badgers, sheep, deer, opossums, wolverines, beavers, muskrats, mountain lions, foxes, and an almost endless list of birds.
This accessible trail takes you through Long Meadow Grove that showcases giant sequoias. The largest trees are estimated to be upwards of 1,500 years old. Facilities at the trailhead include restrooms, picnic tables, and a campground. This grove has over 100 giant sequoias with a diameter of 10 feet or more. Another 700 smaller giant sequoias, meaning a diameter of less than 10 feet, fill in the rest of the grove. The largest tree is over 20 feet in diameter and is 220 feet tall. Note that this heavily traveled trail closes from mid-November to mid-May.
Length: 1.3-mile paved loop
This wooded trail offers spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The trail is open year-round, but you might want snowshoes in the winter. The elevation along the trail only changes about 700 feet, but it starts at over 6,000 feet. If you're not used to walking at elevation, you may want to pace yourself. You'll find a park bench to rest at Unal Peak, which is at 6,838 feet in elevation. The trail has an interactive brochure written from the viewpoint of the Tubatulabal tribe. The brochure is on the signboard at the trailhead.
Length: 3-mile loop
This sunny trail winds along the Kern River. It is rated moderate, but it is rather narrow and uneven. It does gain over 1,000 feet in elevation, so if you're not used to a lot of up and down, it may be difficult. This trail is best visited in spring when the wildflowers abound. The trail is open to motorbikes along with hikers, mountain bikers, and horses. With a license, you can fish at many spots along the river.
Length: 8 miles, one-way
Intensity: Moderate to Difficult
The PCT is nearly 3,000 miles long, stretching from the Mexico border all the way into Canada. It was made a National Scenic Trail in 1968. Sequoia National Forest offers many access points to this trail. A popular segment goes from Jawbone Canyon to Piute Mountain Road. The trail is open for hiking and horseback riding. This section passes through Walker Pass Campground, where you can stop for a picnic.
Length: 10.4 miles, one-way
Boole Tree is the largest tree in the U.S. National Forest System and the 6th largest of all known sequoias. The Converse Basin Grove was a huge grove until it was logged between 1892 and 1918. The Boole tree was spared because of its tremendous size. Currently, it rises to 269 feet high with a diameter of about 35 feet. It's probably at least 2,000 years old. The Boole Tree Trail heads uphill from the parking area and passes through a mixed forest of lodgepole, western white, Jeffrey, and sugar pines. You'll get breathtaking views of the Kings River gorge and the high Sierra Nevada mountains. Depending on the season, you can traverse this trail by hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing.
Length: 2.5-mile loop
This stump attests to an interesting piece of history. The stump was once the General Noble Tree. It was cut down in 1897, and the pieces were transported to the Chicago World's Fair. But when it was reassembled, it was nicknamed the California Hoax because no one believed that a tree could possibly be that big. The trail takes you through Jeffrey pines to a meadow ringed by young sequoias, red firs, and azaleas.
Length: 0.6 miles one-way
This short loop trail takes you through the Indian Basin Grove. Along the way, you'll find many stumps of the once-magnificent sequoia trees that were logged in the early 1900s. Scientists now study these stumps for clues about climate change. You'll also find interpretive signs detailing the history and scenery of the area. Springtime is perhaps the best time to visit due to the abundance of wildflowers.
Intensity: 1.4-mile loop
The trees are the obvious draw for this famous area of California. General Sherman is probably the most photographed tree. It is the largest tree, by volume, in the world. In addition to the Boole tree, the General Grant is also impressive at 34.2 feet in diameter.
The forest hosts 72 species of mammals, including black bears, 26 rodent species, 17 bat species, and Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. It's also a birder's paradise with over 200 different bird species. Seasonal hunting is also allowed.
For those seeking educational exercise, Sequoia National Forest has over a dozen interpretive trails.
Lake, pond, river, and stream fishing are available at dozens of sites throughout the forest.
Rock climbing is also popular at spots like Moro Rock, which has a 1,000-foot face, or Angel Wings with a 2,000-foot wall. Climbing skills may come in handy for some geocaching spots, but you'll find plenty of other geocaches that don't require as much effort.
In addition to having many great spots for stargazing, Sequoia National Park hosts a number of astronomy programs.
Address: 32588 Hwy 190, Springville, CA 93265
Fee: Entry fee $0
Many choose Sequoia National Forest as a quieter alternative to Yosemite and other busy attractions. The highlight is the giant trees, but you'll find much more to explore. There's plenty of room to spread out on backcountry trails as well as short hikes just off the road. Every season has unique offerings ranging from lake beaches to wildflower romps and cross-country skiing treks. With over 1.1 million acres, Sequoia National Forest is a perfect place to explore in an RV.