Sequoia National Monument, Trail of 100 Giants

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Giant Sequoia on Trail of 100 Giants, 6/9/12

The “Trail of 100 Giants” is an easy 1.3 mile self guided interpretive trail through a grove of giant sequoias at Long Meadow Grove.  This forest was dedicated as Sequoia National Monument in 2000 by President Clinton. 


The largest trees in this grove are 220 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter and about 1500 years old.  125 Giant Sequoias in this grove are over 10 feet in diameter and about 700 more are less than 10 feet in diameter.  The Western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California at 5000 to 7000 feet elevation is the only place these trees are found; they are closely related to the Coast Redwoods but the Giant Sequoias are a little shorter with thicker trunks. 

Other trees found among the Giant Sequoias are Black Oak, Incense Cedars, Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine and White Firs which some are covered with bright green wolf lichen, often mistaken for moss.  In the summer blooming flowers and plants are found along the trail such as the Chinquapin Bushes, which butterflies seem to like along with the strange Tent Caterpillar. 

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Shown in the above video, in 2011 on Sept 31st about 11:30am a double Sequoia standing around 200 feet high fell to the ground, which a German tourist caught on video as he ran to avoid the falling tree.  Giant Sequoias have shallow roots, some only about 6 feet into the ground but the roots can reach out over 100 feet from the tree base.  It is thought the two fallen trees (fused together at the base) just grew to be too heavy plus rain runoff had cut small creeks near its base.  The massive trunk still lies on one loop of the trail today and covers the path and one footbridge so a little dirt trail walking is involved to navigate around.  Otherwise the trail is paved and wheelchair accessible.

Below a picture and two videos I took June 2012, gives an idea of what it is like walking through this forest but nothing like actually being there.  The air smells so fresh among the trees, very beautiful! 
 

 

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Tent Caterpillars on Chinquapin Bushes, 6/9/12

I thought I would share this, I've never seen caterpillars that built webs before.  Or wiggled constantly as if blowing in the wind, shown in the video below the caterpillar pic.  These Tent Caterpillars in very large numbers can damage evergreen forests but here they apparently are not causing a problem.  Among the insect population in this area are wasps which prey on these caterpillar pests and could play a role in keeping them under control along with many other insects which prey upon the caterpillar. 

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Printed interpretive trail guides filled with facts about the 20 markers found along the trail are available at the parking lot kiosk.  Parking is $5 cash (pay the iron ranger/self pay).  See the Trail of 100 Giants official US Forest web page for additional info.  Scroll down for directions and drive description from Kernville. 

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Redwood Meadow Campground, campsite #13

Across the road from Trail of 100 Giants next to the parking lot is Redwood Meadows Campground  – beautiful place to stay.  No showers, vault toilets and this is bear country, the usual Safety in wilderness applies of course.  We didn’t see any bears but did see a bobcat nearby :)  Click here for more info about Redwood Meadows Campground and click here to see the Redwood Meadows FB photo gallery.

Directions from Kernville:


Only 45 miles North of Kernville, very scenic drive with views of the Kern River, a dam, the Kern River Fish Hatchery (which you can tour for no fee), brief view of the 120’ high South Creek Falls as it merges into the Kern River and a view of a beautiful granite peak in Domeland Wilderness.  Our trip was in June 2012, a lot of flowering plants lined the roads.  From Kernville “Gateway” cross the bridge over the Kern River near the campgrounds, make a left at the stop sign which is Sierra Way/Mtn 99 North to Johnsondale.  Continue West on Mtn 50 to the Western Divide Highway.  Watch for the “Trail of 100 Giants” signs point in the right direction along the way.

You will want to be careful driving in these parts, you will see cattle signs posted on the roads throughout Kern and Tulare Counties…just before the Giant Sequoias parking lot we turned a bend and suddenly in front of us were two cowboys on horses, herding dogs and about 100 head of cattle walking on both sides of the road.  On the bend just before our cattle encounter was a bobcat sitting on the roadside.  The cat scrambled up the rocky outcrop so fast no time to find a safe spot to pull over for a picture.  Maybe the bobcat was interested in the oncoming cattle?  I was driving well under the speed limit thankfully and I still had to stop rather suddenly for the cows. 

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Oncoming cattle, drive carefully!

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Domeland Wilderness, seen from the road to Trail of 100 Giants