Big Trees Trail Hike, Sequioa National Park

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The Big Trees Trail hike is one of the easiest ways to see a nice collection of Sequoia National Park’s giants.  The trail is located near a place that you’ll be stopping anyhow, the Giant Forest Museum, and will take less than an hour to enjoy.

Location

The Big Trees Trail is located slightly east of the Giant Forest Museum, on the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park.  Parking at the trailhead is limited to disabled visitors during the summer months.  Everyone else can find a parking spot near the Giant Forest Museum (you may need to use the overflow parking area and take the shortcut trail back to the museum).  A connector trail to the Big Trees trailhead begins in front of the museum and runs parallel to the highway for a short distance before crossing the road and arriving at the trailhead.

My Visit

Since you probably won’t be able to park at the trailhead for the Big Trees Trail hike, you’ll most likely begin with another hike — the one that takes you from the parking lot to the Giant Forest Museum.  If you end up in the remote parking lot, there’s a shortcut trail to the museum that also allows you to enjoy a pretty nice view.

Beetle Rock

The Giant Forest Museum Trailhead skirts the edge of Beetle Rock.  From there, you can wander out onto the granite dome and find the view that suits you best. This would be an easy place to enjoy a view of the sunset at the end of the day.

You could also hike out to Sunset Rock. The trail begins near the parking area across the street from the Giant Forest Museum. It’s a one-mile (one way) out-and-back hike to a viewpoint that’s similar to Beetle Rock.

Continue to Generals Highway and cross the street at the very busy pedestrian crossing.

Once you’re at the Giant Forest Museum, you can check out the Sentinel tree, which is nearby.  It’s one of the most impressive giant sequoia trees you’ll see in the park, mostly because it isn’t crowded in with a bunch of other trees.  In reality, though, the Sentinel tree ranks far down the list of big trees.  By trunk volume, it’s the 42nd biggest giant sequoia in the world.

Poke your head into the Giant Forest Museum for a moment, and check it out.  It’s pretty small, and basically, it’s just another visitor center.  But it’s still worth seeing.

As you leave the museum, turn right and follow the trail.  You’ll parallel the road for a short distance, then you’ll cross the road…

Big Trees Trail Hike

… and end up at the start of the Big Trees Trail hike.

The Big Trees Trail hike takes you around a meadow that formed around Little Deer Creek, providing just the right balance of moisture needed to grow these giants.

The trail stays inside the forest for most of the circle, allowing you to see some amazing things, like this giant sequoia that seems to have merged with a giant boulder.

Some of the trees are lined up in groups…

… and you can check out some impressive clusters of giant sequioas as you look across the meadow.

It’s not a long trail, but it can take some time because you’ll probably want to linger a while.  The loop itself is only about 2/3 of a mile long, but when you add the walk from the parking area to the museum and on to the trailhead, you’ll probably get 1.5 to 2 miles on your pedometer.

Once you’ve completed the loop, you can either cross the road again and return to the Giant Forest Museum, or follow a different trail on the other side of the road which will take you back to the parking area.

The Congress Trail and General Sherman Tree are nearby — close enough that you could hike from here to there via the Alta Trail or Rimrock Trail. However, I didn’t get to that area until the following day.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive south on Generals Highway to the Giant Forest Museum…

… and through the Tunnel Log to Moro Rock:

The Bottom Line

The Big Trees Trail hike is easy, short, and very popular.  You’ll get to see plenty of giant sequoia trees as you circle around a peaceful meadow. If you only have time for one short hike in this area, this is a good choice.

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