Sequoia provides hikers with options

THREE RIVERS, Calif. – Sequoia National Park houses trails to please all levels of hikers, from adventurous visitors looking for secluded trails around the park to those looking for a leisurely stroll in the woods not too far from civilization.

Such hikes provide visitors and locals with a chance to get in touch with nature.

Shelley Quaie, a volunteer at the Foothills Visitor Center at the south entrance of Sequoia National Park near here, often hikes trails throughout the park for relaxation. Her most recent was the Crescent Meadow Trail, which is located a few miles from the visitor center near the Giant Forest Museum.

“It’s in the forest, so you’re surrounded by a lot of trees, some cedar, some sequoias, other types of pines,” she said. “It’s very pretty. It’s an easy walking trail, so it’s not a difficult hike.”

Ranger-guided trails are offered in the parks for visitors who want to learn more about the history of the trees.

Frank Helling, a park ranger who guides tours at the General Grant Tree Trail, tells park visitors stories of the forest as he guides them on a walk through the giant trees. The trail leads hikers through some of the world’s largest trees to the General Grant Tree, proclaimed the Nation’s Christmas tree in 1926 by President Coolidge.

The reason Helling enjoys his job the most is educating visitors.

“Sharing what I love and showing people how we fit in the world,” he said.

He hopes that through connecting the trees and the role that people play will inspire them to use their talents to make a difference.

Park visitors Mike and Lynda Clipson, from Madison, Wis., were two of Helling’s guided tour attendants.

“I thought he did an excellent job of explaining history, and I really liked his philosophical slant on things,” Lynda Clipson said.

Mike Clipson enjoyed hearing Helling’s stories along the hike.

“He wrote the book, and that was nice,” he said.

The General Grant Tree Trail, which weaves through the Grant Grove area to the park’s most important sequoia tree, the General Grant Tree, connects hikers to other more secluded trails, such as the North Boundary Trail, which can be found after hiking around the General Grant Tree Trail and the North Grove Trail, which begins at the Grant Tree parking lot.

Seeing the General Grant Tree on the trail was only one stop for the Clipsons, who also hiked at Lake Hume, where they spotted a bald eagle and plenty of bear tracks.

“Lake Hume is more developed, so it’s a little more commercial, but it’s a nice lake and it’s a beautiful trail and we like wildlife, and it had lots of wildlife,” Mike Clipson said.

Trails that are near the water, such as the Lake Hume trail, allow hikers a different perspective from that of the tall sequoias. The Kaweah River Trail is an option for those looking to wander waterside. The trail passes large rocks and waterfalls along the pebble-lined river. The Middle Fork Trail of the river can be taken from the Hospital Rock Picnic Area near the Buckeye Flat Campground.


If You Go

  • General Grant Tree Trail: This trail takes visitors to the one of the world’s largest trees, which President Coolidge named the Nation’s Christmas Tree in 1926. The hike also includes visits to the Gamlin Cabin and the Fallen Monarch, which fall on the paved trail. Trailhead: Grant Tree Road, Kings Canyon National Park, Calif. Duration: 30 minutes.
  • North Grove Trail: Large trees surround this 1.5-mile trail, which weaves through the meadows and creeks of the forest. Trailhead: At the Grant Tree parking area. Duration: 1 hour.
  • North Boundary Trail: Surrounded by pines and cedars, this trail takes hikers through a loop of grassy areas, a fallen sequoia and other splendors of the wooded area. Trailhead: Taken from the end of the General Grant Tree Trail, located at Grant Tree Road, Kings Canyon National Park, Calif. 93628. Duration: 2.5 hours.
  • Lake Hume Trail: This Lake Hume Trail, totaling 2.6 miles long, travels alongside the shore of the lake, beginning at a picnic area available to sit down and rest while enjoying the view before setting off for a hike. Trailhead: Hume Lake Road, east of Highway 180 if driving from Kings Canyon National Park. Duration: 3 hours.
  • Kaweah River Trail: The Kaweah River Trail hosts views of waterfalls, wildflowers in the spring, meadows, creeks and large rocks overlooking the river. The hike is also known for wildlife sightings along the trail. Trailhead: Hospital Rock Picnic Area near Buckeye Flat Campground. Duration: Half day.

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