National Parks Journal: Walk among the giants at Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Our visit in February meant the red Sequoias in both parks were beautifully contrasted with a layer of snow on the forest floor. These two parks are connected at the hip and their aesthetics are near identical.
Although visiting in the winter made for beautiful sights and small crowds, it did limit our access. In Sequoia, we were unable to explore the Crystal Caves. In Kings Canyon, the primary corridor into the canyon proper was closed for the winter.
But even if we had had access to everything, we wouldn’t have had the time to do everything in just two days. It gives us a good excuse to come back in the summer.
In Sequoia we walked a three and a half miles down the Congress Trial which starts with a look at General Sherman, the largest living tree in the world, before twisting and climbing through sequoia trees. Like Sherman, through the forest, the most impressive specimens are identified and named (usually a dead president or general). Some of these powerful units are so large and established that when they catch fire, the inside will burn out but it doesn’t kill the tree. You can walk inside some of them.
Congress trail leads to Moro Rock, a mountainous granite bolder whose peak is accessible via 400 chiseled steps. At the top is a 360 view of the park, including Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. During the warmer months you can also drive to Moro, but please don’t. It’s far more rewarding to hike through the forest and then be rewarded by the view.
In Kings Canyon we first visited General Grant (the world’s second-largest tree in the world) and walked from top to bottom through the Fallen Monarch. We then hiked up a snow-covered road (accessible by cars in the warmer months) to Panoramic Point for a view into the canyon.