For those traveling to the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, Crescent Meadow offers a gentle hike that is great for children and adults. The trail features a variety of scenery, a tree to climb inside, and another that was made into a house. The basic distance of the hike to see Tharp’s Log and the Chimney Tree is 1.6 miles, but that can be extended in several ways to see more of the area.
Head east from the south end of the parking lot at the end of Crescent Meadow Road. For 0.1 miles, the paved path is shared with hikers setting out on the High Sierra Trail. They may be going just one mile to Eagle View or 60 miles to Mount Whitney. When the trail splits, just after a pair of footbridges, take the trail to the left, which passes along the southern edge of the Crescent Meadow.
The trail will come to a junction with a dirt track heading to the left toward Chimney Tree. The paved trail continues to Tharp’s Log to the right. Either direction is viable, depending on which attraction you would like to see first.
Following the trail to the right, it will pass beneath several giant sequoias before arriving at another meadow, Log Meadow, and the one time habitation of Hale Tharp.
Tharp was first lead to the meadow by Yukut guides in 1858. By 1861, he had built a home into the fallen Sequoia where he resided every summer, ranching his livestock in the Giant Forest meadows until 1890 when the land became a national park.The home, built into a hollow horizontal Sequoia, is well preserved and a fascinating sight. Take a peak inside at Tharp’s rustic tree house, which still contains his old bed, table, and bench.
Beyond Tharp’s log, one could turn right to loop back to the start around Log Meadow (for a 1.8-mile hike), or turn left toward Chimney Tree and Crescent Meadow. Turning left, takes hikers deeper into a Sequoia forest where woodland creatures may be visible along the trail. The Chimney Tree is just off the trail on a well-marked path. Step inside this standing burnt out Sequoia for a unique perspective on these enormous trees.
The soft protective bark of the Sequoias allow them to survive a hundred wildfires over the course of their lifespan 2,000 year or more. Contemplate this longevity and return to the trailhead by taking the dirt trail back along the east side of the meadow to rejoin the original trail, or take a longer stroll up and around Crescent Meadow back to the parking lot. The trailhead also offers a small picnic area.
Other hikes start from the Crescent Meadow Parking Area, including Sugar Pine Trail and Bobcat Point Trail Loop, which explores Indian mortars and a picturesque ridge overlooking the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. Dogs and mountain bikes are prohibited on trails in Sequoia National Park. A park entrance fee is taken to reach the trailhead, but no permit is required to hike around Crescent Meadow, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Take Generals Highway to Crescent Meadow Road, which is just south of the Giant Forest Museum. Drive east past the turnoff for Moro Rock (A short and amazing hike). After three miles, the road ends at the Crescent Meadow Parking Area. Along the way, travelers can drive beneath Tunnel Log, a Sequoia that fell over the road.
Trailhead address: Crescent Meadow Road, Sequoia National Park, CA 93262
Trailhead coordinates: 36.5548, -118.7490 (36° 33′ 17.2″N 118° 44′ 56.4″W)
|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.
|Moro Rock |
This 0.6 mile hike sports panoramic views and should be considered a mandatory hike for first time visitors to Sequoia National Park.
|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.
|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.
|Congress Loop |
This easy paved two mile loop visits the fourth and fifth tallest Sequoias in the world (among others).
|Big Trees Trail |
This 1.4-mile stroll explores giant sequoias around Round Meadow on a paved nature trail that is easy, educational, and beautiful.
|Sunset Rock |
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.
|Tokopah Falls |
This 4.2-mile hike reaches the base of the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park.
|Marble Falls |
This 8-mile hike takes a flower-lined path up a mountain canyon to a powerful waterfall.
|Paradise Creek |
This short stroll leaves Buckeye Flats Campground to visit the perfect swimming hole for a hot summer day in the Sierra.
|Panther Creek |
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.
|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 paved 0.5 to 1.3-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 |
Fourteen campgrounds with over 1,000 total sites are spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.