Spring Break in Sequoia National Park

by on April 17th, 2013
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Beer. That’s what comes to mind first when I think of Sequoia National Park. Not breathtaking forest, not giant trees, but a refreshing sip of Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. That beer, which my husband enjoyed in a rustic bar at the Sequoia lodge, while the late afternoon sun cast shadows on the deep green forest out the window, has come to symbolize the sense of peace and relaxation I feel when thinking of Sequoia.

The sensory memories are endless in Sequoia National Park, California’s smaller, simpler sister to Yosemite National Park. You can create your own family memories in Sequoia any time of year, but springtime in Sequoia brings opportunities for hiking, biking, and enjoying nature in full bloom. Here’s a quick-hit list of must-sees for a visit to Sequoia in the spring. Check weather information before you go, but April is the month when Sequoia turns from winter white and snow to rushing waters and fresh moss amid the giant trees.

Auto Log and Tunnel Log

Once you’ve arrived, ease slowly into your exploration: to view these landmarks you won’t even need to get out of the car. The Auto Log has been around since 1920, after a giant sequoia tree fell and park officials carved a roadway over it to give drivers a sense of its enormity. The log’s since been closed to drivers for safety reasons, but it’s still cool to see. (Interesting fact: Sequoia is a mix of sequoia and redwood trees, which are nearly identical. Most redwood trees shatter when they hit the ground and their wood if often of value for no more than making matchsticks.) You’ll find the Auto Log off the General’s Highway via the Crescent Meadow Road. Further down the Crescent Meadow Road is the Tunnel Log, a felled tree which you can drive through. The kids will love it.

Crescent Meadow Loop and Tharp’s Log

Picture yourself romping through a lush green meadow with wildflowers in bloom and you’ll have the proper picture of the Crescent Meadow Loop, any easy day hike for novice hikers or families with young children. Pack a lunch from the Watchtower Deli (in Lodgepole, two miles from Wuksachi Lodge) and set out along the 1.2-mile meadow route. You can photograph bursts of wildflowers, hop along fallen trees, and step into Tharp’s Log, a fallen giant Sequoia tree that original Sequoia explorer Hale Tharp turned into a cabin complete with fireplace, window and wood furniture. Step inside and imagine a life in the meadow.

Giant Forest

Five of the world’s ten largest trees live in the Giant Forest grove of giant Sequoia trees. You’ll marvel at the size of the General Sherman Tree, credited as the largest living tree due to its volume. General Sherman is 2,100 years old and weighs 2.7 million pounds.

Wuksachi Lodge

After a day of fresh air and seeing the sites slip into the “upscale rustic” world of the Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia’s premiere hotel in the Giant Forest area of the park. Pleasant rooms with modern-rustic wood furnishings look out onto the surrounding forest. No balconies here, since you are in the midst of the wildlife. Watch for deer outside your door. There is no better place to end the day than in the Wuksachi’s dining room. Make a reservation and enjoy delicious, locally grown dishes, cocktails and forest views out of soaring floor to ceiling windows. Don’t forget to ask for an ale.

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