General Sherman - the superhero of Sequoia National Park
This is a guest post written by Jackson Raedeke, with a bit of input from his mom, and submitted as a part of our rad family collective series.
Jackson was age 15 at the time of this writing and had just returned from a two week road trip through five national parks and more in California. In his spare time, you can find Jackson reading, playing FIFA on XBOX, kicking around a soccer ball, or playing volleyball with his sister.
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There’s something special about national parks
It's not just the fact that national parks are sections of land protected by the government so that the public can enjoy it for all time that makes these places special.
It's their natural beauty and the opportunities it gives for people to be outdoors.
Waterfalls, canyons, mountains, and trees that enchant us for some unspoken reason.
Now, I myself don’t enjoy every national park I go to on the same level. Sometimes parks feel like déjà vu.
For instance, when I visited Joshua Tree National Park, I wasn’t super enthralled with the place. To me, it just felt like looking at big rocks and walking in the hot sun. Stuff I can already do where I live in Colorado. Huge boulders may be more interesting to someone who doesn’t live around mountains and rocks, but I wouldn’t know.
I want to see or do something I can’t do anywhere else!
That’s why I enjoyed Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. This place was something fresh, something exciting, with something you can’t find everywhere else.
I mean, come on, trees as tall as buildings!
You don’t find those in your backyard, or in Colorado.
Funny enough, I already knew some things about Sequoia trees because part of my state testing was focused on Redwoods and Sequoias.
Redwoods are a species of trees, and Sequoias are a subspecies of the Redwoods. All Redwoods and Sequoias are very tall, but have their differences, like thickness and height. If you go to Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP, you will see Redwoods that are more specifically called Sequoias.
Walking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is like something out of a dream. Surrounded by colossal trees, you feel so small compared to them. Their diameters are ginormous, usually from 20-26 feet. And they can grow to be 50-85 feet tall!
These ginormous trees also produce a lot of shade.
What makes Sequoias so great?
During our easy hikes at Sequoia and driving through Kings Canyon, we learned Sequoia trees are nearly indestructible, kinda like a superhero:
1. Boast the thickest bark on earth
2. Depend on forest fires to help spread their seed
3. Self-healing, even after a lightning strike!
4. Very resistant to disease and bugs
5. Big trees come from small seeds
6. Live to be really, really old (as in some were born before Jesus Christ!)
7. Grow to be uber tall! Like hundreds of feet tall...
General Sherman - a superhero of trees
The highlight of Sequoia is General Sherman. Expect a long line to take a picture in front of one of the tallest trees in the world. Standing at 275 feet tall, General Sherman is humongous!
Merely a middle-aged giant Sequoia, General Sherman is thought to be about 2,000 years old. There are sequoias that are much older, like over 3,000 years old, and some that are much taller, like nearly 380 feet tall.
But General Sherman holds the record for being tops in volume - currently over 4.18 MILLION pounds in weight.
You can find General Sherman just off of Generals Highway (Rte. 198), 2 miles south of Lodgepole Visitor Center. When you hike down to him, add on the Congress Trail hike just after you meet General Sherman.
Add on the easy Congress Trail loop
An easy 2 mile trail, many agree the Congress Trail is the best hike for seeing the most gargantuan trees up-close. Keep your eyes peeled for cliques of trees called the House and the Senate. Once you're done, you can always catch the shuttle back up the hill.
As a kid, I really appreciate going somewhere where I’m not always having to squint my eyes to look at things. At both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, I could leave my eyes wide open to see to take in everything around me.
During your trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon, enjoy it! Don’t rush because there aren't many other places like it! And be safe. Some roads have treacherous drops to the sides.
I hope you enjoyed my article, and found it useful. I had fun writing it!
All pictures belong to Tanya Raedeke, unless otherwise noted. Please write for permission to use her photographs.
Have you been to visit General Sherman? What else did you like about Sequoia or Kings Canyon? We would have liked to have spent more time there, but we were pressed to reach Yosemite.
Any helpful comments about Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Parks are appreciated below. Please feel free to pass this post on to others. Thanks!