Though it is not the tallest, widest or oldest tree on Earth, the General Sherman Tree is the largest single-stem tree by volume. Get close to the mighty sequoia to marvel at its gargantuan form.
The General Sherman Tree’s trunk measures more than 100 feet (30 meters) around at its base. Have someone take a picture of you in front of the astonishingly wide trunk. Don’t bother trying to capture its full height in a photograph without a fish-eye or panoramic lens. At 275 feet (84 meters), it is simply too tall for a normal photo. As you admire its form, pay special attention to its branches. Many measure up to 7 feet (2 meters) in diameter, quite large even compared to the trunks of most trees.
Hike around the area near General Sherman. Follow the 2-mile (3-kilometer) Congress Trail paved loop to see even more giant sequoias. Find the Washington Tree along the route. At one time, the Washington Tree was just 20 feet (6 meters) shorter than General Sherman and was known as the world’s second-largest tree. It’s now significantly shorter, having lost some of its upper branches after a lightning strike in the late 1990s. Although it may look like a tall dead stump, it still has foliage and is expected to live for many years.
While here, contemplate how long the General Sherman Tree has been standing. Although its age can only be estimated, it is thought to be about 2,200 years old. By sequoia standards, this is not very old some living sequoias are believed to have been growing for more than 3,000 years.
To get to the General Sherman Tree in summer, ride the park’s free shuttle bus. Avoid having to do an uphill climb by getting off at the upper stop and strolling down to the lower stop, pausing to properly admire the mammoth tree along the way.
Find General Sherman Tree in the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Wheelchair access is available via the paved path from the parking lot off Generals Highway.