The land of the giant sequoia trees in California is surprisingly expansive—fitting for the home of the biggest living trees in the world! That’s why we put together a weeklong itinerary inspired by discovering the sequoias and everything else that grows so well here.
This story was created in partnership with Discover the Sequoias. Photos provided by Discover the Sequoias.
Start in the communities of Porterville and Springville and get the lay of the land. The national parks, monument, and forest are to the east of these towns and stretch many miles to the north. We’ll differentiate each of the land agencies you’ll visit in this itinerary, but don’t worry too much about it while you’re visiting—they overlap and lead to one another, so you can enjoy them freely without concern (we should note the national parks and have entry fees and more visitor services).
Springville’s roots are in cattle ranches and small farms, and that heritage remains strong. Stroll through town’s cottage businesses, art shops, and antiques, then visit neighboring Porterville to learn even more about the area’s history. The Southern Pacific depot, restored as the Porterville Museum, features Yokuts and other Native American and settler artifacts.
While in Porterville, enjoy artisanal coffee and chocolate in the city’s charming downtown. Enjoy a farm-to-table local meal and a luxurious cocktail before turning in for a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow you’ll head into the forest!
Sequoia National Forest and the its Trail of 100 Giants is the perfect launching point for your sequoia adventures. The Trail of 100 Giants is a paved hiking path through a stand of giant sequoias, some as old as 1,500 years. The 20 interpretive signs line the 1.3-mile path. From here, a number of trails await, depending on your ambition (remember to plan ahead and prepare for the elevation, weather, and distance along your hike) all along the scenic Western Divide Highway.
Follow your senses from the delicious smells of the Visalia Farmers Market to the colorful splashes of Exeter’s murals, and on to the iconic, evocative End of the Trail Statue and Tulare County Museum. Each of these stops will enrich your understanding of this part of California and deepen your connection to its story.
We chose Visalia for your overnight stays for more than the food and the art: it’s also a start and end point of the Sequoia Shuttle to Sequoia National Park. Thanks to the shuttles within and to/from the Park, you don’t have to worry about parking or keeping your eyes on the road while appreciating the beauty surrounding you.
Once you’re in the Park, be sure to stop at the largest living tree by volume in the world, and then explore beyond. The stepped hike to Moro Rock is steep and rewards climbers with 360-degree views, and a number of trails wander deeper into the preserved parklands.
At the end of the day, take in a show or tuck into a feast back in the Visalia area.
Giant Sequoia National Monument is an extension of Sequoia National Forest and adds to the breadth of wild lands you can explore. The expansive Monument is 328,000 acres, and 38 of the 39 giant Sequoia Groves of the National Forest are within its boundaries. Because the monument and forest are so enormous, you can visit groves of giant sequoias via car or via a long hike—choose your adventure to suit your vacation mode!
While you’re exploring, make your way into Kings Canyon National Park, which John Muir once called “a rival to Yosemite.” While you’ll find plenty of giant sequoias here (in fact, the largest remaining grove is in this park), the towering rock formations of the canyon are equally impressive.
After making your way through a national forest, a national monument, and a national park, you’ll be ready to wind down in a peaceful village. Continue north and west to Dinuba, Woodlake, or Three Rivers for a fabulous dinner and a well-earned night’s sleep.
Artistic souvenirs, scenic trails, and local wines await when you rise and shine. Take your time and get to know the communities at the northernmost end of your trail along California’s sequoias. Taste the yield of the less-giant trees and vines from the orchards and vineyards surrounding Dinuba. Stroll amongst smaller plantlife at the Woodlake Botanical Garden, a beautiful place to smell the roses and do some birdwatching. And Three Rivers benefits from a shuttle back into the parks if you need one last moment among the giants before returning home.