General Grant Grove
This popular stop just north of the northern Kings Canyon park entrance offers a variety of short, flat trails that are perfect for day visitors. After visiting the General Grant Tree, take the North Grove Loop half a mile along an old park road through the grove. You might find yourself on the North Grove Loop even if you didn’t intend to; it’s not particularly well differentiated from the General Grant Tree Trail and it takes in much of the same area.
Outside the grove, take the Big Stump Trail (near the Big Stump park entrance) one mile round-trip through a grove that was heavily logged in the late 19th century, but is now reclaiming its true nature as a sequoia grove. Or enjoy the vistas from the Park Ridge Trail (Panoramic Point Rd. parking area, closed in winter). If you pick a clear day, you can see all the way out to the Coast Range of mountains in the San Francisco Bay Area from this trail!
While there’s little elevation change on this almost five-mile walk, consider the altitude of the area before deciding that this trail and the fire-road route back will be an easy trip.
For a different view on the life and death of the giant sequoias, and humanity’s intervention in this area, hike the Sequoia Lake Overlook/Dead Giant Loop (lower end of General Grant Tree parking area). The two-mile trail takes you to the Dead Giant, a first-growth giant sequoia that was mostly likely killed by loggers trying (and failing) to cut it for lumber. Sequoia Lake is actually an old mill pond from the logging days.
For a longer, more demanding day hike, check out the Sunset Trail (Grant Grove Visitor Center). You’ll climb about 1,400 feet over this six-mile (round-trip) trail, which takes you past Viola Falls and through the magnificent mixed forests.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition