What is a Sequoia Grove?
Giant sequoia groves are portions of Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forest that contain giant sequoias. In most groves, giant sequoias are fewer in number than other tree species, but are the most visually striking and dominant in size. Giant sequoias grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California, between 4,000 and 8,000 feet (1219 and 2438 m) in elevation. Within park boundaries, park staff distinguish approximately 40 different giant sequoia groves, ranging from one to tens of thousands of sequoia trees per grove. Numerous groves can be reached by road, while others are remote and involve an arduous hike to visit. Most groves are noted on the park driving map. In all the groves—from heavily visited to remote—these immense, majestic trees and sunlight filtered through lofty branches bring a sense of peace and wonder.
Giant Forest is a large sequoia grove, set on a rolling plateau between the Marble and Middle Forks of the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park. It is the largest of the unlogged giant sequoia groves, and it contains more exceptionally large sequoias than any other grove. It hosts the largest living sequoia, the General Sherman Tree. In this grove, visitors can see the effects of decades of prescribed burning: open forest conditions and clumps of giant sequoia seedlings that establish after fire. Giant Forest has an extensive network of hiking trails that range from 1-2 hour hikes to half-day or longer explorations of this grove. From spectacular giant sequoia trees to historic structures leftover from the time cattle grazed in this area, one can learn about both natural and cultural history. Enjoy views from Moro Rock, or wildlife-viewing opportunities amongst the trees and scattered meadows. Visit the Giant Forest Museum for a good introduction, and explore from there by foot, shuttle bus, or car.
Grant Grove is located in Kings Canyon National Park, accessible by a short spur road from Highway 180 and located just 1.5 miles from the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. This grove has numerous exceptionally large sequoias grouped in a 90-acre area. A higher percentage of this grove's mature sequoias reach sizes of ten, fifteen, and twenty feet (3, 4.5, or 6 m) in diameter than in any other grove. For those who are interested in photographing an entire giant sequoia, a visit to Grant Grove provides a great vantage point of the immense and stunning General Grant Tree, celebrated each year as the nation's Christmas tree. The 1/3-mile (.05 km) paved loop trail leads to the General Grant Tree and includes other named trees and features, including the Gamlin Cabin, the Fallen Monarch, and the Centennial Stump. Explore this and other trails to see sequoias, meadows, and wilderness views. Nearby campgrounds and a summer shuttle bus facilitate visits to the Grant Grove area.
Redwood Mountain Grove
This grove burned in the 2021 KNP Complex Fire. Forty percent of the grove burned at moderate to high fire severity, and many giant sequoias were killed. At this time, the trails remain closed due to hazardous conditions related to the fire.
Visit the KNP Complex Fire web page, to learn more about this fire.
This grove burned during the KNP Complex Fire in the fall of 2021. Firefighters were able to conduct a low intensity back-burn prior to when the KNP Complex fire reached the grove, successfully reducing fuels and thus the severity of the wildfire when it burned into the grove. Hikers who visit this area will see some beneficial fire effects – small to moderate-sized conifers like white fir or sugar pine may be killed in some areas. This is a positive effect as it makes the forest more open so that young sequoia seedlings may establish, and it helps this grove be less vulnerable to future high-severity wildfire.
Big Stump Grove
Beginning in the late 1800s, numerous sequoia groves in an area that would later become the parks, and in the neighboring Sequoia National Forest, were logged. Big Stump Grove, near the entrance to Kings Canyon National Park, is worth a visit for those interested in exploring the site of the Smith-Comstock Mill and logging camp. Here, you’ll find several remaining old growth stumps and the young sequoia trees that regenerated following historic logging operations.
Converse Basin Grove
The Converse Basin Grove, managed by the U.S. Forest Service in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, is one of the largest sequoia groves in total area and provides a window into an era of large-scale logging involving ingenuity and strong will. Imagine cutting a giant sequoia with cross-cut saws and axes, milling the wood on-site, then transporting it down waterways called flumes that floated the timber to towns in the Central Valley. Despite the lack of power saws during the time frame of logging here (1893-1908), the clear-cutting of Converse Basin was extensive. It is likely that more mature and old growth sequoias were cut here than in all other groves combined. Although the logging was destructive, the grove remains a remarkable site with its significant historic forest as well as its existing scattered old-growth sequoias, and the most extensive young sequoia stands of post-logging regeneration found in any grove.
The most noted sequoia spared by the loggers is the 269-foot (82 m) tall Boole Tree. It is the largest tree in America's national forests, and it contends with two other living sequoias as the sixth largest in overall volume. This tree bears the name of the general manager of the Sanger Lumber Company, Frank Boole, thought to have ordered this particular tree spared. Many other mature sequoias are widely scattered throughout the grove, including the largest surviving old growth group (including more than 25 trees), located along Cabin Creek in Kings Canyon.
Three developed recreation sites lie within Converse Basin Grove:
Learn more about the natural history of giant sequoias, including details about their role in the ecosystem, how they're affected by fire, and why they live so long.
Last updated: September 27, 2023