The General Sherman Tree

Two couples stand near wooden fence and look at base of giant sequoia tree.
General Sherman Tree is at the north end of Giant Forest.

Alison Taggart-Barone

Visiting the General Sherman Tree

Two trails lead to the Sherman Tree. Parking for the Main Trail is off the Wolverton Road (between the Sherman Tree and Lodgepole); just follow signs. The trail runs half a mile (0.8 km) down to the tree. It has a few stairs and is paved. As you walk, you'll enter the Giant Forest sequoia grove. Exhibits along the trail explain the natural history of giant sequoias. The walk back is uphill.

Those with disability parking placards can park in a small lot along the edge of the Generals Highway. From there, a wheelchair-accessible trail leads a short distance to the tree. If you don't have a placard but can't manage the Main Trail, during shuttle season you can ride park shuttles (all are wheelchair accessible, and some kneel) to the accessible trail. Another option, if you can do the initial downhill walk, is to park at the Main Trail, walk down to the Sherman Tree, then continue down to the shuttle stop along the Generals Highway. A shuttle can return you to your parking area, eliminating the uphill walk.

A fence protects the shallow roots of the Sherman Tree. Please help us protect the tree by staying on the paved trail.

Six firefighters work together to stretch protective foil around the lower 8 feet of giant sequoia tree.
Firefighters use wooden supports to climb higher around the base of the General Sherman tree and wrap protective foil around the tree's lower 10-15 feet. This material, also used to protect buildings, minimized the likelihood fire would ignite exposed areas like old fire scars.

NPS Photo

Statistics about the General Sherman Tree

Tree Description Feet Meters
Height above Base 274.9 83.8
Circumference at Ground 102.6 31.1
Maximum Diameter at Base 36.5 11.1
Diameter 60' (18.3 m) above base 17.5 5.3
Diameter 180' (54.9 m) above base 14.0 4.3
Diameter of Largest Branch 6.8 2.1
Height of First Large Branch above the Base 130.0 39.6
Average Crown Spread 106.5 32.5

In 2021 the General Sherman Tree Was Wrapped as Fire Approached Giant Forest

The General Sherman Tree was one of numerous giant sequoias wrapped in a protective aluminum material as the KNP Complex Fire, a lightning-caused wildfire, burned upslope toward Giant Forest in mid-September of 2021. While giant sequoias are fire-dependent and able to withstand the heat of moderate fires with their thick, insulating bark, more severe fires have damaged or killed many large sequoias in the past six years. Thus, additional precautions were taken to prevent fire from burning into tree bases and igniting vulnerable fire scars – signs of the many previous fires these trees have survived.

As Giant Forest has had many prescribed burns in recent decades, firefighters observed that the wildfire behavior (flame length and rate of spread) was reduced as it hit previously burned areas. This moderate fire behavior allowed firefighters to work close to the fire, digging fireline to prevent the fire's spread further into Giant Forest.


Visiting the Sherman Tree in Winter

Traveling to visit the General Sherman Tree in winter is more challenging but has its rewards. The timing of winter snow varies tremendously between seasons and is very difficult to predict. Snow can fall anytime from October into June.

Once snow accumulates on the ground, the main parking area off the Wolverton Road closes and the accessible parking area on the Generals Highway becomes available for all. The trail from there to the Sherman Tree is not steep but can be very snowy or icy. Be prepared by bringing traction devices for your footware, even if you have boots. Products such as yaktrax or microspikes are just a couple examples of winter traction devices that fit over top of regular footware. There are other products by other manufacturers. Please be careful, and if you choose to walk, avoid stepping in ski tracks.

On some winter holiday weekends, a winter shuttle may provide transportation from Giant Forest Museum, Wolverton snow play, Lodgepole, and Wuksachi to the Sherman Tree Trail.


Exploring Further

Hundreds of monarch sequoias grow in the Giant Forest sequoia grove. The Congress Trail, a paved two-mile loop that begins near the Sherman Tree, offers excellent opportunities to see notable trees. Big Trees Trail, a one-mile (1.6 km) loop around a lush meadow, has interpretive exhibits about the natural history of giant sequoias. For a longer walk, explore the many miles of trails in the area.

Beyond the Giant Forest, more sequoia groves await. Visit the world's second-largest tree, the General Grant Tree in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. Other groves such as Redwood Canyon and Muir Grove are destinations for longer hikes.

Two hikers below giant sequoias
Explore Sequoia Groves

Whether you see them from your car or hike to a remote grove, giant sequoias inspire awe and wonder.

A fire scar at the base of a large giant sequoia is surrounded by other sequoia trees.
Giant Sequoias

Learn about the largest trees in the world, and their relationship to fire and climate.

Aerial view of smoke and browned foliage burned giant sequoias
Threats to Giant Sequoias

Learn more about recent threats to giant sequoias in this web article - including hotter droughts, bark beetles, and severe wildfire.

A grove giant sequoias, with standing dead and live trees.
Giant Sequoias and Climate

Climate plays a key role in giant sequoia groves.

Scientist collecting sample of giant sequoia foliage. Photo: Anthony Ambrose, Univ. of California.
Giant Sequoias and Drought

Recent severe drought and tree mortality prompted research to study the sensitivity of giant sequoias to drought.

Fire burns in ground vegetation below towering giant sequoia trees.
Giant Sequoias and Fire

Learn more about the role fire plays in giant sequoia groves.


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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


559 565-3341

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