National Parks Tips

8 of the Best Hikes in Sequoia National Park

Park Overview

hiker next to sequoias
Sequoia National Park is located in Northern California in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, just east of Fresno, CA. Sequoia National Park is home to some of the worlds largest trees and has the largest tree by volume, the famous General Sherman. General Sherman stands at a staggering 275 feet tall and over 36 feet wide at the base. When visiting this national park, you’ll be surrounded by the giant sequoias towering over you as you hike your way through the various hiking trails. This park also features epic mountain ranges in the distance, deep canyons, and even some caves. Walking among the giant sequoias is just magical and will provide many unforgettable memories.

Top 8 Hikes in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park has hundreds of miles in trails scattered throughout the park for hikers of all skill levels and ages. You’ll be able to hike among the giant sequoias, along mountain edges, and all the way to the top of peaks to get panoramic views of the vast landscape of Sequoia National Park. With so much to do and see, I’ve helped you narrow down 8 of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park to help make planning your trip a little bit easier:

  • General Sherman Tree Trail 0.9 miles (out and back)
  • Congress Trail Loop 3.0 miles (out and back)
  • Big Trees Trail 1.3 miles (out and back)
  • Moro Rock Trail 0.4 miles (out and back)
  • Giant Forest Loop Trail 7.5 miles (loop)
  • Tokopah Falls via Tokopha Valley Trail 4.0 miles (out and back)
  • Bear Hill 1.9 miles (out and back)
  • Sunset Rock 2.0 miles (out and back)

This is one of my favorite national parks to visit in Northern California and something about hiking next to these giants makes for a serene hiking experience. Here are 8 hikes in Sequoia National Park that you absolutely cannot miss!

General Sherman Tree Trail

general sherman tree trunk
Distance: 0.9 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 165 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 30 minutes
Trailhead: General Sherman Tree Car Parking Lot

Trail Description: This short hike leads you to General Sherman, the world’s largest sequoia. This entire hike is on a paved walkway with a few staircases scattered throughout. This one tree attracts millions of visitors a year for one reason, its absolute massive size. At 275 feet tall and over 35 feet wide at its trunk, you won’t believe just how huge this tree is until you’re standing beneath it. This is a protected tree and area surrounding the tree is completely fenced off with a small wood fence, so there won’t be any tree climbing for you climbers.

Keep in mind:
This trail is part of the Congress Trail hike, so consider doing that loop too. Since this is one of the main attractions of Sequoia National Park, it attracts a ton of visitors, so try to hike this one first and early to get it out of the way. There will be hundreds of people at the base of the tree depending on what time of year you go. If you’re going during busy season expect it to be completely packed. If you can make it when they’re open in the winter, there are significantly less people and the sequoias covered in snow are just beautiful.

Congress Trail Loop

Congress Trail
Distance: 3.0 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours
Trailhead: General Sherman Tree Car Parking Lot

Trail Description: This trail starts off at the General Sherman Tree Car Parking lot and features a beautiful cluster of giant Sequoias, including the largest Sequoia in the World, General Sherman. Congress trail takes hikers on an entirely paved trail as you make your way through the woods and past the magnificent red sequoias. This trail is well maintained and very easy to follow. You’ll feel tiny next to these insanely massive trees. This is definitely one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park since it give you a lot of the main highlights during a leisurely hike.

Keep in mind:
Starting the hike and making your way towards General Sherman will likely have a ton of other people on the trail, but as you hike away from General Sherman and onto the Congress Trail, the crowds will start to thin out. I definitely preferred this Congress Loop section over General Sherman portion of the trail as there was way less people.

Big Trees Trail

Distance: 1.3 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 30 to 45 minutes
Trailhead: Park at the Giant Forest Museum Parking Lot
Walk alongside the highway heading north on the general access trail.

Trail Description:
This is an easy short hike on a paved road that leads you to the beautiful Round Meadow that is home to a grove of massive sequoias. There are signs throughout the hike that help explain the history of Sequoia National Park. As you hike past Round Meadow there will then be a wooden walkway that leads directly to the giant forest of Sequoias. Theres a section on the trail where you’ll pass huge boulders. This is a great trail as you have a nice mix of the meadow and the forest in a mostly shaded trail.

Keep in mind:
There are some small stream crossings depending on how much water flow there is, so watch your step! Watch out for the unmarked junction just after the Clara Barton Tree.

Moro Rock Trail

hikers going up moro rock
Distance: 0.4 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 30 minutes
Trailhead: Weekends: Shuttle from Giant Forest Museum to Moro Rock Parking Area
Weekdays: Moro Rock Parking Area

Trail Description: One of the most popular hikes in Sequoia National Park, Moro Rock features a granite walk way that presents hikers with sweeping views of the green forest valley and the rocky mountains in the distance. While this hike is short, there are 350 steps from before you reach your destination. There are also narrow trails that will take you on the edge of the mountainside that will make some heads spin due to how close they are on the edge. As you make your way up the steps, the valley opens up and you’ll see the vistas around you. This is one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park that you should absolutely not miss.

Keep in mind:
Since this trail is incredibly popular, the small lot will likely fill up on the weekdays. On the weekends it can get very crowded, so expect to wait in line for the shuttles. There are some parts with lots of exposure to the mountainside, so be careful on those narrow parts of the trail. If you’re visiting in the winter, the road to Moro Rock could potentially be closed due to snow.

Giant Forest Loop Trail

Distance: 7.5 miles (loop)
Elevation: 990 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Duration: 3.5 to 4.5 hours
Trailhead: Crescent Meadow Parking Area

Trail Description: This trail combines the General Sherman, Congress Trail, Crescent Meadow, Circle Meadow, Trail of the Sequoias, and Tharp’s Log into one leisurely hike. If you want one hike with all of the highlights of the world’s giant sequoias, this is it. Starting at the Crescent Meadow Parking Area, make your way towards the Sugar Pine Connector which meets up with the Crescent Meadow Loop towards the east. The order of the hikes is Crescent Meadow to Tharp’s Log, Trail of the Sequoias, pass the Crescent Creek , head towards Chief Sequoyah Tree, the path to President Tree, follow Congress Trail loop, finally the General Sherman Tree, make your way back to the Congress Tree, Alta Trail, back towards Circle Meadow Loop, and lastly back to the start onto Crescent Meadow. This trail combines a lot of the best hikes of Sequoia National Park into one epic adventure.

Keep in mind:
The busiest and more crowded sections of the trail will be near the General Sherman Tree, however the crowds should thin out as you hike away from the trail. There are three small stream crossings and a field of poison oak during the Trail of the Sequoias, so be mindful to not touch any! You can technically hike this trail starting at the General Sherman parking lot, however there will be a 200+ foot ascent to start the hike.

Tokopah Falls via Tokopha Valley Trail

Distance: 4.0 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 645 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 2 to 3 hours

Trailhead: Nature Center Parking Area near Lodgepole Visitor Center

Trail Description: Tokopah Falls hike features a roaring river, massive granite walls that tower over hikers, meadows, the pine forests, and of course the giant waterfall. Tokopah Falls stands at 1,200 feet tall and is the tallest waterfall located in Sequoia National Park. This trail is a straightforward path to follow with a gradual ascent up the path from the Nature Center Parking Area, there are no junctions, just go straight! The end of the trail will take you over a few boulders before you meet up with the giant falls.

Keep in mind: This waterfall flows from snow melt, so the best time to visit this waterfall would be in the end of spring or early summer when there is still plenty of water flowing. Although the 645 feet seems like a lot, the elevation gain is evenly distributed throughout the two mile ascent.

Bear Hill

Distance: 1.9 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 320 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 1 hour

Trailhead: Park at the Giant Forest Museum Parking Lot, head towards Alta Trail

Trail Description: This short leisurely hike is well established and well shaded. This trail features a fallen sequoia and a nice walk through the Sequoia forests. As you walk on the path you’ll notice the sheer size of the majestic Sequoias. This trail meets up with Moro Rock Trail. You’ll eventually pass by the Colonel Young Tree and the Auto Log Tree.

Keep in mind: You can add on Moro Rock to this hike for a change of pace out to get out of the woods on onto some rocky granite. The Moro Rock trail is incredibly popular, so the closer you get to that trail the more crowded it will probably be.

Sunset Rock

hikers sitting at sunset point
Distance:2.0 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 185 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 1 hour to 1.5 hours
Trailhead: North Lot of the Giant Forest Museum

Trail Description: For most hikes on this list, giant Sequoias cover your view while on the trail, but for this hike there is an exposed granite area that provide hikers expansive views of the mountains vistas and a great place to see the sunset. Although this place is called Sunset Rock, it provides great views at any time of the day. This trail starts off a the north lot of the Giant Forest and the start begins on an established forest trail. The end of the hike you’ll be hiking on rocky granite before you reach the viewpoint.

Keep in mind: If you’re hiking this during sunset, be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp so you can actually see the trail on your way back! If you’re in a hurry and want a similar view, head to Beetle Rock which is on the other end of the Giant Museum Parking lot.

Relevant Questions Section(s)

What should you not miss in Sequoia National Park?

There is so much to do in Sequoia National Park, but three things that you should absolutely not miss in the park are visiting the largest sequoia in the world, General Sherman, on the Congress Trail hike, making your way up the granite steps to Moro Rock, and finally hiking to Rounds Meadow to see the sequoias next to the grassy meadows on the Big Trees trail. Hiking these trails will give you a quick highlight reel of quintessential Sequoia National Park features and should not be missed for any first time visitors to the park.

How many days do you need in Sequoia National Park?

You should allocate at least a full day in Sequoia National Park in order to see the main features such as General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock, and the round meadows. During the summer time it can be incredibly busy with long lines for the shuttle, so if you’re visiting in the summer I recommend a full weekend at the park, otherwise you may miss out on a few things due to full parking lots or full shuttles!

Which is better Sequoia National Park or Kings Canyon?

Sequoia National park is much more easily accessible than Kings Canyon and is better for families and all skill levels. Sequoia National Park has shorter hikes that are much less strenuous. There are some roads on Kings Canyon that are unpaved and very dangerous to drive on. Sequoia National Park is much more beginner friendly so I think its a better National Park.

How far apart are Sequoia and Yosemite?

Although both National parks are located in Northern California, the parks are 170+ miles apart. With both parks being located in mountainous areas, the drive up to each park is a long windy road which will significantly slow down driving time resulting in a 4+ hour drive from Sequoia National Park and Yosemite. If you’re trying to cram both parks into one weekend, I highly recommend against it as you just won’t have enough time.

What is the best time of year to visit Sequoia National Park?

The best time to visit Sequoia National Park is either in the Spring before busy season due to less crowds and cooler weather. The next best time to visit the park is during the winter after light snowfall. Seeing the sequoias powdered in white snow mixed with their red and orange bark is a magical sight to see. During winter it will be very cold, but that means there will be less people!