Trees hold a supernatural quality for me and the sequoia’s did nothing for my childish daydreams of magic forests carpeted in ferns and inhabited by goblins. In the case of the sequoia’s the goblins do not have to be very small as some of the trees are as big as my old flat in England (but that’s not saying much). This is really two national parks joined together by some national forest so sometimes it gets confusing as to what area you are in. This park hosts Mt. Whitney which at14,496.811 feet is the tallest mountain in the “lower 48” states however, you cannot really see the mountain from the entrance to the park on the west side. You can see it and access it from 0.7 mile (17.1 km) trail from Whitney Portal, 13 miles (21 km) west of the town of Lone Pine which has the great Diaz Lake Campground with about 200 sites including space for large RV’s down by the riverside. It’s cheap at $10 a night and looks out at the eastside of the NP. However, we were more interested in camping in the park and discovered that getting to Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP by vehicle was a little tricky as there are no roads running though the park. If you are in the east side of the mountains then you have to drive around the park to get into the westerly entrance. But getting there is worth it to see what little remains of these majestic groves of Sequoia trees and access to Kings Canyon.
The largest tree (in terms of volume) in the world is General Sherman which is located in this park and is a site to behold, but it is hard to really get the scale of these giants of the forest as you stand there staring up into the sky at them. I can’t help but feel sadness too that we have hacked down so much of our old growth forests although there is still alot of campaigning with Campaign for Old Growth amongst others.
Due to the relative remoteness of the park it is easy to get away from the few people that are there who are mostly looking at the more famous trees on short hikes or driving through the park.
A beautiful trail for hiking or running is the Ridge trail, this was one of our top runs as it gently undulates up and down on single track and some forestry road. Another stunning trail which you can get on direct from the Azalea Campground which was our favourite camping spot, is the Sunset Meadow trail but be ready for alot of downhill and then uphill.
How to get there
Nearest airport is Fresno
To enter Sequoia Park: From highways 65 or 99, go east on Highway 198 to the park entrance.
To enter Kings Canyon National Park:From Highway 99, go east on Highway 180 to the park entrance.
The main park road, the Generals Highway, connects these two entrances.