42°F
weather icon Clear

Cool weather in majestic giant sequoia forest

Every outdoorsy American has daydreamed of walking among living giant sequoia trees, the largest trees on earth by most definitions and certainly one of the most inspiring sights of our favored homeland.

And for those who live in Southern Nevada, that walk is an easily arranged retreat from the hometown heat of midsummer and requires only about six hours of driving to see them.

The giants make their homes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, California, which are adjacent to each other and jointly managed. Even before timbering reduced their numbers, giant sequoias only grew on the southern Sierra’s western slope, usually at an elevation between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. The senior trees are thought to be somewhere between 1,800 and 2,700 years old, and some are as tall as a 26-story building.

While the main reason people visit these parks is to see really big trees, there are also 850 miles of maintained trails ranging from easy day hikes to extended backpacking routes. Although you can’t see it all in such a short visit, a couple of days is enough to experience the parks’ incredible diversity. Even on short summertime jaunts you can find flowing waterfalls, meadows carpeted with wildflowers, flowing rivers and plenty of wildlife including black bears.

One good place to start is Sequoia’s Giant Forest area, home to the largest of the 75 sequoia groves growing naturally in the world. This grove includes four out of the world’s five largest sequoia trees. A short stroll will take you to famed General Sherman Tree. Estimated to be about 2,100 years old and weighs about 2.7 million pounds, it has a circumference at the base of 109 feet, is 275 feet tall, and still growing!

Another classic experience in the Giant Forest area is hiking up the granite monolith named Moro Rock. This strenuous yet short outing is extremely popular, so head there in the morning to avoid the crowds. The route takes you up about one-quarter mile and 300 feet, on primarily narrow man-made steps. The views are some of the best found on a day hike. From atop, looking east, you can see the Great Western Divide, the lofty chain of granite peaked mountains that run through the center of the park.

Just down the road from Moro Rock is Crescent Meadow. If you are visiting in late July and early August you will often find it carpeted in wildflowers.

Naturalist John Muir visited this meadow in 1875 and his writings later dubbed it the “Gem of the Sierra.” There is an easy but very worthwhile 1.6-mile loop trail around the sequoia-lined meadow. Serious hikers on extended backpacks also embark on the world-famous High Sierra Trail from the edge of this meadow.

Another area of the park worth checking out is Sequoia’s Lodgepole Village area. Here you will find a restaurant, small market, visitor center and a campground. This is where to find the trailhead for the Tokopah Falls Trail. It is about 1.7 miles one-way up a forested trail along the bank of the Marble Fork of the Kuweah River. The trail goes to a glacially-carved canyon complete with a cascade more than a thousand feet long.

Sequoia, created in 1890, is the second oldest national park in the United States. Only Yellowstone, created in 1872, predated it. During a visit to Sequoia, a ranger told me that all national park rangers, no matter what park they are assigned to, wear belts embossed with images of sequoia cones.

If you are coming directly from Pahrump you will probably enter the parks at the Foothills Visitor Center area. This is a good place to pick up a map so you’ll have it as you travel farther. It’s also a good place to get information about how to handle a bear encounter, and how to store food to avoid having an unpleasant one. Traveling either park in summer, you’ll probably see at least one or two black bears, and maybe even some cubs.

With the park’s elevations ranging from 1,360 feet to 14,494 feet, you might encounter great differences in temperatures. But assuming you’ll spend much of your time in the middle elevations, where the big tree groves are, you can expect daily highs in the 70s in August.

There are 14 campgrounds between the two parks, all open in summer, yet by early fall some close. The majority of sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lodging is limited to Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia, the Grant Grove Cabins and John Muir Lodge, and Cedar Grove Lodge in Kings Canyon. Outside the parks you can find a variety of private lodging; some of the most conveniently located is in the town of Three Rivers, just outside the Foothills area of the park.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
DIVAS ON A DIME: Pumpkin gives classical bread pudding a seasonal twist

In a season traditionally filled with good things to eat, let’s add another entry to the dessert table, shall we? I’m talking about bread pudding. Now, here is a dish that radiates nostalgia. Once eaten mainly by the poor to use up stale bread, bread pudding is now considered comfort food extraordinaire.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Saturday, Nov. 7 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $25 million.

A make-ahead meal to make your holidays easier

Well folks, the season of giving is upon us. So, I’m suggesting you begin by giving yourself a gift. Prepping meals ahead and storing them in your freezer is an excellent way to relieve some holiday stress and that’s a gift we deserve.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Wednesday, Oct. 28 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $22 million.

DIVAS ON A DIME: Having fun while staying safe this Halloween

When you consider Halloween usually consists of people wandering about outdoors wearing masks, this might be less different than we anticipate. However, since conventional trick-or-treating isn’t on the agenda, here are some ideas to make the most of the Quarantine-o-ween.

DIVAS ON A DIME: This Halloween cookie is so easy it’s scary

Oh, the crisp night air, the warm apple cider, the pumpkins. Don’t you just love this time of year? For most families Halloween means the first big festivity of the holiday season. While all the kiddies love the creepy, spooky side of this holiday, I’m all about the food. You, too?

DIVAS ON A DIME: Simple tricks to make stuffing squash a treat

This time of year, I can’t go grocery shopping without coming home with at least one squash. This week I bought acorn squash and I’m in autumn comfort food heaven. Squash are in season, delicious, versatile, frugal, and fabulous!

Shortcuts give this seasonal pumpkin dish a twist

Is it time for all the pumpkin things? I hope you said yes, because I have a scrumptious pumpkin recipe. Let’s make pumpkin ravioli! But let’s make it easy. Rather than make fresh pasta, let’s use wonton wrappers, and we’ll use canned pumpkin and a two-ingredient sauce.

DIVAS ON A DIME: How to get your salmon fix on a tight budget

A well-stocked pantry is a wonderful thing. Here’s a stellar pantry staple I don’t write about often enough, so let’s dive into some canned salmon.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Saturday, Sept. 26 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $13 million.