Giant Forest Loop Trail
ElevationAscent: 988' 301 m
Descent: -968' -295 m
High: 7,345' 2,239 m
Low: 6,688' 2,039 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 28% (15°)
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“Combine several of the parks best and most well-known trails for a comfortable seven mile run among the sequoias.”— Dylan Payne
The run can also be started from the General Sherman parking lot but the would entail a steep ascent (240ft) at the end of your run.
Continue straight (sort of right) to a second junction where a short spur trail (straight ahead) leads to the Chimney Tree, a huge dead sequoia with a fire hollowed core. After visiting the Chimney Tree, return to the main trail, take a left and follow the Crescent Meadow-Tharps Log Trail as it heads east in the direction of Tharp’s Log. The trail now crosses a small rise separating Crescent and Long Meadows and arrives at Long Meadow and Tharp’s Log.
After admiring Tharp’s innovative home, continue left onto Log Meadow Loop as it arcs around the north end of Long Meadow and arrives at a trail junction. Here our route continues ahead (don't go right) on a connector, ascending steeply for 0.2 miles to a junction with the Trail of the Sequoia.
Turn left (north) on the Trail of the Sequoias. The trail follows an ascending traverse on easy to moderate grades along the hillside through a mixed forest scattered with sequoias of varying ages and sizes. You'll feel like you are in the wilderness on this part of the trail and probably run into few, if any, other runners.
Pass through the trunk of a fallen sequoia and shortly after, cross the Crescent Creek drainage. Beyond the crossing the trail turns southwest, ascending on moderate grades along the west side of the drainage. In less than half a mile, the trail curves to the northwest and climbs to and crosses the top of a ridge. As you climb, partially obstructed views open to the south.
Descend from the ridge on moderate grades through a mixed forest with numerous giant sequoias. Occasional switchbacks ease the descent. Pass the Chief Sequoyah Tree and arrive at a trail junction. Turn left and follow the trail to the President Tree and a junction with the Congress Trail. Just ahead is the Senate Group, an interesting cluster of sequoias. Turn right and follow the Congress Trail to the intersection with the Alta Trail. The trails merge briefly; head right and then take your next left to follow the eastern side Congress Trail loop. There are a number of huge fire scarred sequoias near the junction and along this section of the path.
Follow the Congress Trail as it first descends and then climbs to the junction with the Sherman Tree. Other trees in the world are taller but in volume of wood the Sherman has no equal; it earns the title of the World's Largest Tree. Within the vicinity of the tree are a number of impressive sequoias that demand your attention. After admiring this massive tree and its neighbors, return to the junction with the Congress Trail.
Follow the wide paved Congress Trail as it ascends gently to the northeast and then swings south, descending on easy grades beneath towering sequoias scattered amid the pine forest. About a mile from the trailhead, you'll reach a junction. To the right is a short spur trail that enables runners to shortcut the trail and head back to the Sherman Tree. Continue straight ahead. Soon the trail turns southeast and makes a short moderately steep ascent up the hillside, passing a series of striking sequoias along the way. At the junction with the Alta Trail, continue straight and continue on the Circle Meadow Loops.
Near the southern point of the Circle Meadow Loops, take a right on a short connector that links to the Washington Tree Trail. Head south (left) on the Washington Tree Trail and eventually you'll meet Crescent Meadow again. Head south down the western side of Crescent Meadow Trail Loop back to the parking lot.
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Land Manager: NPS - Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park