The General Sherman Tree is the most giant Giant Sequoia in the world. The largest tree by volume, it is 275 feet tall and 36.5 feet across at the base. The tree is believed to be 2,200 years old and weigh 1,385 tons. But those are numbers — numbers that a brain familiarized with normal trees cannot process. The only way to appreciate the unfathomable, seemingly unearthly size of the giant sequoias is the see one for yourself.
Named after Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, the star of the Giant Forest can be reached a few different ways. For the handicapped, there is parking adjacent to the tree just off the Generals Highway. For others, there are several trails to chose from, including the General Sherman Trail. This paved trail is half a mile each way and descends some 200 feet (which is less than the height of the Sherman Tree). The trail is wide with a few staircases. There are benches and informative panels throughout. Did you know the Sherman Tree has a volume of 52,500 cubic feet?
General Sherman Tree
Halfway down, the trail crosses a brick “footprint” matching the base of the General Sherman. The footprint, like the tree has a circumference of 103 feet and offers a distinct visual of the enormity of Sherman.
If for some reason you can’t make it up to see General Sherman this year, worry not. It will be even bigger next year. The General Sherman is still growing, adding about 0.4 inches in diameter each year. According to the park brochure, this is enough to equal the mass of a typical sixty foot tree.
For an easy opportunity to see more giant sequoias, continue on the Congress Loop, which starts at the Sherman Tree. If you drive 30 miles north on the Generals Highway, you can visit the General Grant Tree, the world’s third largest giant sequoia.
To get to the trailhead: From the Giant Forest Museum, head north on the Generals Highway. One mile past the handicapped parking area across from the General Sherman Tree, turn right (east) on Wolverton Road. Make the next right toward the Sherman Tree Trail. The road ends at the parking lot.
Trailhead address: Wolverton Road, Sequoia National Park, CA 93262
Trailhead coordinates: 36.584873, -118.749785
Use the map below to create your own directions:
This easy paved two mile loop visits the fourth and fifth tallest Sequoias in the world (among others).
|Big Trees Trail|
This 1.6-mile stroll explores giant sequoias around Round Meadow on a paved nature trail that is easy, educational, and beautiful.
This 2-mile hike visits a large granite dome with great views to the west, possibly the best place to end your day in the Giant Forest.
This short walk from the Giant Forest Museum to Beetle Rock visits a granite dome with great views and stunning sunsets.
This gradual 3.4-mile hike visits the base of the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park.
This level 1.6-mile loop visits a Sequoia you can stand inside (Chimney Tree) and another that someone used to live in (Tharp’s Log).
|Sugar Pine Trail and Bobcat Point Trail Loop|
This short but diverse 1.5-mile loop peaks at Bobcat Point, which presents a fierce perspective of Moro Rock and a massive canyon.
|Hanging Rock Trail|
This short 0.35-mile hike passes views of Moro Rock en route to a balancing boulder on a canyon rim at the edge of the Giant Forest.
This 0.6 mile hike sports panoramic views and should be considered a mandatory hike for first time visitors to Sequoia National Park.
This 8-mile hike takes a flower-lined path up a mountain canyon to a powerful waterfall.
This short stroll leaves Buckeye Flats Campground to visit the perfect swimming hole for a hot summer day in the Sierra.
This 6-mile hike follows the Middle Fork Trail to a 100 foot waterfall that drops into the Middle Fork of Kaweah River.
|More trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains|
Explore other destinations in Sequoia National Park and the rest of the range.
|General Grant Tree Trail in Kings Canyon National Park|
This 0-8 mile loop in the Grant Grove passes through a Fallen Monarch to reach the General Grant Tree, one of the world’s largest sequoias.
|Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park|
This 1.6-mile hike (or longer) visits the biggest trees in Yosemite.
|Trail of 100 Giants in Giant Sequoia National Monument|
This pave half-mile loop visits a grove of giant sequoias alongside Western Divide Highway.
|North Grove – Big Trees Trail in Calaveras Big Trees State Park|
This easy 1.5-mile loop explores the first giant sequoias discovered by settlers in California.
|Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Campgrounds|
There are 14 campgrounds with over 1,000 total sites spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.