A visit to the front country of Sequoia National Park should include a stop at the Giant Forest Museum. Here you can learn a lot about Sequoiadendron Giganteum and ask the ranger stationed inside for advise on what to see during your visit to the park. The rustic building that houses the museum was built in 1928 on a design by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood. Through great visual displays, the museum provides a wealth of information on the world’s largest trees.
The Giant Forest is the most famous giant sequoia grove in Sequoia National Park. It covers three square miles and is the second largest grove of sequoias in the world. Over 2,100 giant sequoias in the Giant Forest Grove have diameters of over ten feet. Of the 75 existing sequoia groves, only the nearby Redwood Mountain Grove in Kings Canyon National Park is larger. These special trees grow only in California on the west side of the Sierra Nevada between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, making the Giant Forest a very special place. No matter how many times you see a giant sequoia, you cannot help but be impressed by their elegant enormity.
Outside the museum, the Sentinel Tree provides an example of an “average” sequoia. Amazingly, this seven hundred ton giant is about half the size of the General Sherman Tree. According to the National Park Service, there are forty miles of trail to choose from in the Giant Forest, so if you are looking for a pleasant stroll among the sequoias, you are in luck.
Across from the Giant Forest Museum is a large parking lot and trails to Sunset Rock and Beetle Rock, two great granite overlooks, along with Big Trees Trail, which offers a beautiful and educational stroll through the sequoias around Round Meadow.
East of the Museum, a road leads to Moro Rock, which offers a stone carved climb to panoramic views of the Kaweah River Valley. Just past Moro Rock is Crescent Meadow where you can hike to Tharp’s Log, where Hale Tharp, the parks first inhabitant other than the Yokuts, built a cabin out of a fallen Sequoia.
To get to the Giant Forest Museum: From Los Angeles, the Giant Forest Museum is 240 miles away. Take the 5 North to the 99 North. After 96 miles, take the 198 East toward Visalia. The 198 leads right to the park, where it becomes the Generals Highway. An entrance fee is charged to access the park. Once inside, drive another 16.5 to get to the Giant Forest Museum.
Giant Forest Museum address: Generals Highway (California 198), Sequoia National Park, CA 93262
Giant Forest Museum coordinates: 36.564442, -118.773577 (36° 33′ 51.99″N 118° 46′ 24.87″W)
Use the map below to view the museum and trails and get directions:
|Big Trees Trail
This 1.6-mile hike 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.
|General Sherman Tree
This one-mile hike visits the world’s biggest tree, a 275-foot tall Giant Sequoia that is 36.5 feet across at the base.
This easy paved two mile loop visits the fourth and fifth tallest Sequoias in the world (among others).
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.
|More trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Explore other destinations in Sequoia National Park and the rest of the range.
|Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Campgrounds
Fourteen campgrounds with over 1,000 total sites are spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.