Sequoia National Forest is one of the most iconic national parks in the world. Found on most bucket lists, people will travel far and wide to catch a glimpse of the endless trails, snow-capped mountains, and towering giant Sequoia trees.
Undoubtedly, the most popular location in the forest is the world’s tallest tree – the General Sherman tree – but the forest is also filled with an abundance of magical sights and experiences.
Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in central California, visitors of the national forest need to be prepared to take a road trip from most major cities.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Oakland airports are all at least 5 hours from the park.
However, the long journey is certainly worth it. Pack your bags, book a lodge, and get ready to explore the wonders of the natural American landscape. Here are the best trails to go hiking in the Sequoia National Forest!
General Sherman Tree Trail
Of course, the first hiking destination we recommend is the General Sherman Tree Trail. Named after the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman, this iconic tree is said to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.
It stands at 17 feet wide and 275 feet tall, making it the tallest tree in the world.
Other than the record-breaking tree, the reason this trail is so popular is because of its length and accessibility. This is a 1-mile round trip trail that is relatively easy to hike, with only the slightest elevation after seeing the tree.
Due to the generally flat trail, this is one of the few accessible trails in the whole forest as it is completely paved.
The only problem with this trail is that, due to its popularity, you might have to wait in a queue to get a picture in front of the legendary tree.
It’s not worth spending all day on this trail, but if you’re prepared to wait in line to tick something off your bucket list, then it’s worth the wait.
Moro Rock Trail
For the moderate hikers who love a good sunset, you’ve got to check out the Moro Rock Trail. Moro Rock is a unique, giant slab of granite with a built-in stairway with over 40 flights of stairs. It’s not the toughest trail in the park, but it’s certainly not one for beginners, either.
The distance itself is only 0.5 miles, but with an elevation of 177 feet and all those stairs, be prepared to get out of breath!
The main reason why this trail is so favorable is because of the stunning views it has to offer. We recommend hiking this trail in time for the sun to start setting once you reach the summit.
Words can’t describe how beautiful it is to see the sunset over the towering mountainous landscape.
You can drive directly to the Moro Rock Trail at sunset through the Tunnel Log, but during the day this is blocked to vehicles other than shuttle buses.
We recommend taking the shuttle bus in the evening just before the sun begins to set, so you don’t miss all the glorious evening colors.
Trail of the Sequoias
Sequoia National Forest is filled with a myriad of trails around the famous sequoia trees, with the most popular being the General Sherman Trail and the Congress Trail. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend the Trail of the Sequoias.
This trail is underrated and lesser known compared to the tourist attraction trails, allowing hikers to feel complete solitude amongst the towering trees.
This trail itself is a 7.5-mile hike lasting approximately 4 hours. It’s not the most accessible trail, but the reason novice and advanced hikers adore this hike is because of the slight elevation challenge.
With an elevation of 1,368 feet, this is the ideal hike for anyone who wants a bit of a gentle challenge.
Tokopah Falls Trail
One thing that Sequoia National Forest lacks is an abundance of waterfalls. Tokopah Falls Trail is one of the few waterfalls in the park, making it an absolute must-see. If you’re staying at the park, this trail is most easily accessible from Lodgepole Campground and can be reached via shuttle bus.
This is a 4-mile hike that takes about 2 hours to complete, with an elevation gain of 639 feet. You see virtually everything on this trail, starting alongside the Kaweah River and finishing at the stunning waterfall that falls gracefully off the granite cliffs.
Late spring and early summer is when the waterfall is the most powerful due to the melting snow, before it slows down in late summer and fall.
This is a gentle hike that is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Families with older children will often hike here and have a picnic break as they indulge in the surrounding scenery.
Franklin Lakes Trail
One of the most popular overnight trails in Sequoia National Forest is the Franklin Lakes Trail. Starting at the Mineral King Ranger Station, hikers prepare for a whopping 11.2-mile hike that lasts 7 hours with an elevation gain of 3,458 feet.
As the name suggests, this trail follows some of the most beautiful lakes in the whole park. Hidden amongst the Sierra peaks, hikers can explore three alpine lakes at the peak of the trail. While this is popularly completed at night, it’s also worth doing in the day.
Crescent Meadow Loop Trail
There’s an abundance of meadows dotted throughout the Sequoia National Forest, which work to contain water needed for the towering trees.
Lasting 1 hour for a distance of 1.8 miles, beginner hikers can meander through the Crescent Meadow Loop Trail to take in the smell of fresh grass amongst the giant sequoia trees.
Two landmarks can be spotted along this loop trail – Tharp’s Log and Chimney Tree – so make sure to bring your camera. If you want to challenge yourself, you can extend the hike to join onto the Trail of the Sequoias, which we mentioned earlier!