When you visit Sequoia National Park, you want to hike through a forest of big trees — lots of them. The Crescent Meadow hike is one of the best places in the park to do exactly that. From the Crescent Meadow trailhead, you can take a short hike or a long one, with many different trails branching off one another. If your time is fairly limited, I’d recommend circling around Crescent Meadow to Chimney Tree, Tharp’s Log, and Log Meadow, before completing the loop.
To access Moro Rock, Hanging Rock, Crescent Meadow, and the Tunnel Log, turn off Generals Highway at the Giant Forest Museum. The side road to all of these attractions begins next to the museum. Follow this road to the end for Crescent Meadow, or take the turnoff onto the loop for Moro Rock and Hanging Rock.
At the parking area, you’re on the west side of Crescent Meadow, at about the 7 o’clock position. You can start hiking here and go left (clockwise) or right (counter-clockwise) to make the loop around Crescent Meadow — which would be just a little over a mile, with very little elevation change. You can also add Tharp’s Log and Log Meadow to that loop, which will make it roughly two miles. That’s the hike I took — although I wish I had added a few more destinations.
Crescent Meadow Hike
A trail marker near the parking lot outlines some of your other options. Most notable is the destination that’s the farthest away. From here, you can hike to the top of Mount Whitney, 60 miles away. Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states.
Crescent Meadow is a beautiful wide-open space, surrounded by big trees. I tried to take a good picture of it, but nothing can recreate the experience of standing at the edge of the meadow and seeing it for yourself.
I decided to do the Crescent Meadow hike clockwise, heading towards the north end of the meadow first.
You’ll find plenty of giant Sequoia trees along the trail, most of which are too big to photograph.
But you can always just take a picture of the trunks!
The Crescent Meadow hike takes you around the top of the meadow, and then you reach a junction, around the 1 o’clock position, at Chimney Tree. This old Sequoia burned in 1914. Unlike many Sequoia trees that successfully survive a fire, this one did not. But, after a century, the burnt-out hollow trunk is still standing.
And, you can walk inside it, for a look up the chimney at other trees nearby.
If you’re looking for the shortest hike, you can continue around the loop, down the east side of Crescent Meadow. I’d suggest a wider loop, following signs that point towards Tharp’s Log.
It’s a beautiful walk through the forest!
There’s another junction in the trail at Tharp’s Log. This cabin dates back to around 1861. Hale Tharp hollowed out the log and lived inside it while tending his cattle herd in the summers until 1890.
Most of the living quarters are inside the log, but there’s also a room attached to the end, along with a fireplace and chimney made of stone.
You can peek inside and see Tharp’s old dining room table, just as he left it more than a century ago.
Tharp’s log is at the edge of Log Meadow, another clearing similar to Crescent Meadow. The trail circles around the meadow in both directions, so you can choose the short path, or a longer hike, back to the trailhead.
Here’s a look at the drive south on Generals Highway to the Giant Forest Museum…
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… and through the Tunnel Log to Crescent Meadow and Moro Rock:
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The Bottom Line
Crescent Meadow Hike to Tharp’s Log is a great place to see some of Sequoia National Park’s big trees, along with two of its beautiful meadows. Tharp’s log is also worth seeing, and I’d also recommend extending your hike out to Eagle View. Check the sign at the trailhead for even more hiking options on other trails nearby.