If seeing the biggest tree in the world is on your bucket list, head to California, home to the General Sherman Tree.
What Is The General Sherman?
The General Sherman sits at the north end of the aptly named Giant Forest. As the largest living tree in the world, it measures 275 feet tall, with a base diameter of 36 feet. While some trees stand taller or wider, none have the combined volume of this incredible giant sequoia.
This behemoth of a tree is part of Sequoia National Park, just outside of Visalia, California. The Giant Forest alone is home to 8,000 giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree. The tree, which is roughly 2,200 years old, sits behind a fence and a giant sign displaying its name.
While you cannot get close enough to touch it, it remains both a beautiful sight and a great photo opportunity.
How Do You Get To It?
Once at the park, there are a few different ways to reach the tree. The most common option is to park off Wolverton Road and take the Main Trail, which is roughly half a mile. The path is paved with stairs, and it passes through the Giant Forest’s sequoia grove, which features fun displays and exhibits filled with facts about giant sequoias. The walk to the tree is downhill, while the return is uphill.
There is also a small lot for disability parking just off of Generals Highway. This lot is close to the General Sherman, with a short wheelchair-accessible path leading from the parking lot to the tree.
Best Time To Visit
If you do not qualify for disability parking but still cannot manage the Main Trail, be sure to plan your visit for the summer. The summertime is Sequoia National Park’s shuttle season. While the full roundtrip shuttle experience requires a paid reservation, anyone wishing to simply move from point A to point B can jump on a shuttle, free of charge. One of the shuttle stops is directly in front of the short, wheelchair-accessible path. Those who parked off Wolverton Road and took the downhill hike to the tree are also able to use the shuttle as a means of returning to their car, bypassing the uphill climb.
Visiting in the wintertime is a very different experience. The park expects snow on the ground anytime from October to May and will therefore only run the shuttles on limited paths during certain winter holidays. If there is snow on the ground, the disability parking lot near the tree opens for use by anyone, but the short trail to the tree will be icy and slippery.
Roads, highways, and parking lots will close if the weather is too extreme. This is why the ideal time to visit both the park and the tree is in the summer.
Know Before You Go
While the General Sherman Tree is a major attraction, it is not the only nearby site. The Congress Trail, for example, is a two-mile loop that starts at the base of the tree. Other trails filled with views of the sequoias surround the area. (If you need some hiking gear, we've got you covered with the best hiking shoes and outdoor products.)
Due to California’s current stay-at-home orders, Sequoia National Park’s restaurants, lodges, and campgrounds are closed. However, the park itself remains open. Though visitors will have to take mandated regional safety precautions and pack their own lunch, many trails are still accessible to the public.
While your mind's in the trees, here's some supplementary reading: