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Posted by on Jun 20, 2016 | 98 comments

Sequoias: Largest Trees in the World

I am one of those interested in facts highlighting the world’s biggest, greatness, widest, smallest or fastest.  The facts don’t have to be at the global level.  Those at the country, regional and state levels are fascinating too.

Several years ago, I had to opportunity to visit what is considered the widest tree in the world.  This ahuehuete (Montezuma cypress) is located in a town called Santa Maria del Tule in the state of Oaxaca.

You may be thinking, “What is the big deal?  It is just a tree.” In a way, I can understand this reaction. On the other hand, there is something inside you which makes you giggle when you find yourself in front a massive tree that is about 30 times bigger than you.

That is the same sensation I felt when my husband and I entered the Giant Forest section of Sequoia National Park.  And, I was not the only one. Cars were stopping in the middle of the road to marvel at the trees.  We had almost four crashing situations.

John Muir was the one who named the Giant Forest (it contains 8,000 sequoia trees) in 1875.


The giant sequoias are one of the three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods (because of the color of their bark). They are native to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California.  They occur in 68 scattered groves ranging from the American River and the Deer Creek (most of the groves are located to the south of the natural range in Tulare County).

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

The groves are found at elevations ranging from 4,600 to 7,000 feet. They are protected within the boundaries of the Sequoia National Park, Monument and Forest and Kings Canyon National Park.  Protected groves can also be found at Yosemite National Park and some state parks.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman

As soon as you enter the Giant Forest, the giant sequoias start to pop everywhere.  It is not easy to comprehend the size of them.  You are like, “Look at that one.  Wait, this one is way bigger than the one we just saw.”  Bigger and bigger trees keep appearing as you move to higher elevations.

Once you are in the area, a stop to visit the King of the Forest is a must.  I am referring to General Sherman.  He is not only the largest living tree in the world, but the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet.

Take into consideration some of his measurements:

  • Aprox. 2,100 years old
  • Aprox. 2.7 million pounds
  • Aprox. 275 feet tall
  • Aprox. 100 feet wide trunk

Even though General Sherman is huge, he is NOT the following:

  • Oldest Sequoia or Oldest tree (oldest trees are the bristlecone pines)
  • Highest Sequoia or Highest Tree (Redwoods are higher)
  • Widest Sequoia or Widest Tree (the Montezuma cypress in Oaxaca is the widest)

But, when you multiply his dimensions, he wins in term of volume (which means he occupies more cubic feet or cubic meters than any other living organism).

There is infrastructure build in the area surrounding General Sherman.  After parking in the available lots, a half mile trail descends to the tree.  It is possible to take the free shuttle from other areas of the park.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Enough time should be allocated to walk the trail (even though it seems short).  There are plenty of trees to take a look at before reaching the main attraction.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

There is a viewpoint where the fire scar of the tree can be appreciated.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Once in there, take your time to examine all the features of the tree.  A plaque showing the tree’s name has been placed on what is considered the front view of the tree. Most people stay in that area and want to have a picture with the name and the tree in the background.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

However, the area surrounding the tree is paved.  You will be surprised but most people do not walk around the tree.  Sounds crazy but it is an opportunity to have the tree to “yourself” (seeing it from the sides or back).  You can even see one of the branches he lost several years ago.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Walking a bit away affords you the opportunity to capture the entire tree in one frame (notice the size of the people).

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

You can also frame the tree with two other giants located in front of him.


You can continue walking around and take a look at other trees in the area (some fallen). It is not possible to get tired of them.  Each one is unique.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Congress Trail

The Congress Trail is a popular paved loop that starts at the General Sherman Tree and goes about a mile south to an impressive collection of immense sequoias, a few of which look just as big as the Sherman Tree. Also, at the south end of the loop are two unusual groupings of somewhat smaller sequoias, the House and Senate groups.

Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

We were able to walk a short part of the trail but were surprised by the many trees with huge fire scars.  It was impressive to see how some of them were still alive.

Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

In addition, we were able to observe several fallen sequoias.  I think a tree in the ground gives you a better perspective of how tall they are.  You try to determine where the trunk ends but it seems like it keeps going.

Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Have you been to Sequoia National Park?

Pin it for later?

You have to visit the General Sherman grove in Sequoia National Park to see the largest tree in the world (by volume). You feel like an ant next to them!


  1. The last time I was there was Feb of last year. We stayed in Muir Lodge, not too far from General Grant Tree. It snowed in early morning so we never got to hike at all. The park was covered in white snow and flaky kind of snow fell all morning, it was heavenly.
    Photo cache recently posted..Around Belem: A Photographic NarrativeMy Profile

    • We camped in Kings Canyon park, so, we passed by the Muir Lodge. My husband has been to the park in winter and he said he actually prefers it during that time. We’ll see if we go back during that time.

  2. Wow – amazing shots of these gorgeous trees.

    • Glad you liked them!

    • Oh yeah, I have heard about the sky trail. I would love to do that one. Have not seen the Redwoods yet.

  3. I visited last year, but only spent a few hours visiting General Sherman and walking around the tree. It was early March so there was still snow on the ground. Indeed it is best to capture the tree from afar as it’s the only way to include all of it in a frame!
    Anna recently posted..Afternoon Walk in ThessalonikiMy Profile

    • My husband went once when there was still snow on the ground. He loved it. He is trying to convince me to go during that time.

  4. My parents took me here when I was a tiny girl – I have no recollection! Must go back and take my kids – thanks for the beautiful inspiring pictures – cheers from Copenhagen, Erin
    Erin recently posted..Meet the Locals #2: Cathrine ØsterbergMy Profile

    • Hope you can take your kids one day. Well, maybe when they are about 8 to 10, so they can remember the visit.

  5. It is high on my wish list to visit the park one day.

    • It was high on my list for a long time. I am glad I finally made it.

    • I think the best shots would be achieved if you lay flat in the floor and take a picture of them. But, with so many people around, I do not know if you are going to end all kicked.

  6. I was at Sequoia many years ago but remember it clearly. I know it’s become a cliche, but they are truly awe-inspiring. And very difficult to photograph!
    Rachel Heller recently posted..Tokyo, Anime, and My SonMy Profile

    • I know what you mean! You feel like a tiny ant when you are in front of them.

    • They are very old and have passed thru a lot of troubles and complications. Most of them have huge fire scars but are still alive.

    • I hope you see them one day. It makes me think of the power certain trees have to move emotions.

  7. I visited the sequoia’s in 1990 and I’m sure there was a tree you could drive through. Is it still there?!

    • Yes, it is on the road that takes to to Crescent Meadows. I got out of the shuttle to take a picture.

  8. Gorgeous photos! These trees really are huuuuge, I have never heard of them before so was really interested to read this post and see all of the photos. What a great thing to see in person!

    • Well, now you know which are the largest living organisms on Earth and where they are located.

    • Thanks Birgitta! I know, they are huge!

  9. What an incredible experience! We had the opportunity to visit the Muir Woods when we were in California a couple of years ago, and I remember just being awestruck at how tiny we were compared to these huge trees! I definitely want to try and visit Sequoia National Park whenever I have the chance!
    Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders recently posted..Fredericksburg: Where To Stay and What To DoMy Profile

    • That is another park I want to visit. Amazing the number of protected areas we have with big trees here in California.

  10. Where ever we go we are looking out for Sequoia trees. They are so imposing! Hopefully we will be able to see them also in California where they are originated.

    • I read they are cultivated and taken to other parts of the world. I found that very interesting.

    • You are right Tanja! I imagine the reaction of the first non-Native Americans that saw them.

    • It is great when these spaces are left alone and we are able to walk or hike around then. I think we need more of these.

  11. It’s on my bucket list to see them. Nature is so amazing. It’s hard to believe how big they are. Thanks for the lowdown. And photo journey.

    • You are right Sharon. I always say nature has a great power to surprise us. I am looking forward to discovering more places like this.

  12. Giant trees, like expansive oceans and deserts, are good reminders of just how small and insignificant we all are in comparison with Mother Nature’s creations. A fun post – I love those facts as well.
    Jackie Smith recently posted..Greece ~ Those best laid plans. . .My Profile

    • Jackie, love your comment. That is why we need to be in contact with nature more often.

  13. Okay so at first I couldn’t tell the actual size of these trees .. and then I saw the pictures with people in the background and WHOA! These babies are large! I also feel like you can’t even get the true feel unless you see them in person! One more thing to add to the bucket list … Thanks for sharing 😀
    Lauren recently posted..Dream Cruise DestinationsMy Profile

    • Lauren, that is why I made sure to include some pictures with people in them. You have to see them in perspective. I went to another grove where the big trees were next to a parking lot. In that case, you were able to compare to cars tot hem.

    • The thing is that trees are amazing. In Puerto Rico, we have ceibas with more than a 100 years and those are great to see (the roots are so cool).

    • It is a great park to visit. You should plan a three park trip to California and see Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite.

  14. Hi Ruth!

    You did an amazing job capturing the height and grandeur of these trees! I have seen the sequoias in Yosemite, but have not had the opportunity as yet to visit Sequoia NP. I’d really love to go after seeing this post.
    Patricia recently posted..An East River Ferry Ride in NYCMy Profile

    • I wanted to see them in Yosemite but the Mariposa Grove was closed because of some improvements they are doing to the infrastructure. There are other groves but didn’t have time to visit. Hope to do that in the future.

  15. It is a dream of mine to see these trees in real some day! The pics show the gigantic size with minuscule people around it! Amazes me beyond words! Excellent captures! These are the kind of pics that kindle the urge to travel.

    • Indrani, I am glad you feel an urge to visit the park and to travel in general. I like to see pictures of places too. My list of places in the West keeps growing and growing.

  16. What an interesting post! I didn’t know anything about sequoias except that they’re massive. I remember the first time I heard sequoia; Rose (on the Golden Girls) was talking about how Dorothy was angry one time by saying that Dorothy “uprooted a mighty sequoia.” I had no idea what that meant 15 years ago…lol!

    I’d love to visit if I ever make it there, thanks to you! 😀
    Trekking with Becky recently posted..Photo Friday: Cardiff Castle Keep and WallsMy Profile

    • That is funny! I guess it was a memorable introduction to the noun.

    • It would be great to live close to a park like this. Imagine being able to visit any weekend you prefer? I want to go back since there is more to explore in the area.

    • Anda, that is true. We have to be very thankful for the place we live in. There is so much to see and do and there is not shortage of natural spaces.

  17. Hi Ruth! Absolutely gorgeous. I am always in awe of huge trees. It makes me realize how tiny I am in the scheme of things 🙂 Thanks for hosting this week. #TPThursday
    Nancie recently posted..Korea: DreamWorks, Seoul Art MuseumMy Profile

    • Hello Nancie, glad you liked the post and photos. I need to pay a visit to the redwoods now.

  18. Gorgeous pictures! I remember reading about this National Park when planning for my last (and so far only) trip to the West Coast, but just didn’t have the time to visit. There’s always more things on the wishlist than available time! Thanks for the virtual tour 🙂
    Michelle | michwanderlust recently posted..The Coastal Towns of Gran CanariaMy Profile

    • That is true! Several trips are needed to take a look at the mains areas of California. Not sure how many months can take you to see the entire West. The good thing is that there is that desire to come back.

  19. Thanks for this lovely post. I never got the see them for myself and always wanted to! It looks like a marvelous place.
    bettyl – NZ recently in winterMy Profile

    • Yes Betty, this is a wonderful place. Now, I am eager to visit more National Parks.

  20. I remember learning about the giant sequoia at school. How wonderful to see these beauties in real life. Let’s hope they survive for many generations to come #wkendtravelinspiration
    Katy recently posted..Election day(s)My Profile

    • I hope they survive too. Like I mentioned in the post, there are only 68 known groves. So, these trees grow in very particular conditions. They will survive if we care about them.

    • Well, at least you had the opportunity to see them. I would like to visit other groves.

    • I know! I am sure the list keeps growing and growing.

    • I think a lot of people feel like that when they are in front of these trees. At least, you want to touch them.

  21. Isn’t this just a beautiful part of the world? The pacific northwest will always be one of my favourite destinations thanks to it’s impressive wilderness. You’ve done an incredible job of capturing the scale of these glorious trees! Thanks for letting people know about this natural wonder.
    Lauren Bishop recently posted..Adventures in Picking StrawberriesMy Profile

    • Lauren, thanks for your words. My blog is very graphical, full of photos. But, I try to accompany those photos with some facts that add addition interest to what people are seeing. Of course, it takes me some time to research every article but I think it is worthwhile to spread some of the things you learn by visiting places like this.

    • Your welcome Rhonda!

  22. Such beauty! I was here as a little girl and can’t remember the trip. I’d really like to go back as an adult!! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • You should go back as an adult. After all, you may be able to remember some of the things you saw as a child.

    • At least, I am not the only one! I have visited the largest and widest trees in the world. Now, I have to visit the tallest and oldest, which by the way, are in California.

    • I feel what you are saying. The other thing to admire is their resilience. They have been standing for thousands of years and have seen many fires and other threats. But, they are still standing.

    • To remember is to live again, right? I am glad my pictures bring back good memories.

  23. Those are massive trees, Ruth. I sure would like to see sequoias one day. Not sure if it’s correct but I’ve read that trees’ root systems are just as large as the part we can see.

    I hadn’t realized that General Sherman’s top looks different than the ones around it. Might it have had some sort of tragic accident?
    Linda Bibb recently posted..Definitive Guide to Visiting the Panama CanalMy Profile

    • I think you are right about the roots. They are long and grow kind of parallel to the surface (they are not that deep). That means the sequoias can reach water that is far from them. That is one of the reasons they are so large and old.

  24. Wow what a place Ruth, you truly get the perspective of how massive those trees are in the photos with people.
    Here in Western Australia we have an area in the south wets called the Valley of the Giants, looking something much like this, though with Karri trees. I will have too find my old film photos and share them.
    Sally-Ann Brown recently posted..A Small Family Holiday to Busselton with KidsMy Profile

    • Thanks for letting me know about the giants of Western Australia. I will have to google the trees’ names to see how thye look.

  25. Beautiful post and facts. Thanks for linking up!

  26. So impressive – and your pics really capture that. I must try to get here sometime.

    • I know you will love the place if you decide to stop by.

    • That is totally true. I hope the area continues to be as undisturbed as possible.

    • The oldest trees are about 3,500 years. That is a crazy number. Like you said, if they could only talk.

  27. You did a great job of getting all of the General Sherman into one photo. I never did accomplish that and was frustrated that I couldn’t quite convey the size of the tree. On the other hand, my son and I were able to take a nice photo near the sign at the base. The next year, my mom-in-law found a similar photo of herself taken there when she was a teen in the 1950s.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..36 Hours in Cody, WyomingMy Profile

    • You have to walk away from General Sherman quite a bit to fit it into an entire frame. I found the right spot by accident. I was looking at other trees and then, I turned right and was able to see General Sherman from the distance.

    • People get impressed when they see them. I guess that affects their driving ;0)

  28. Possibly due to misinformation from rangers, but most people think giant sequoias are the largest trees in the world. But the facts are that even 10 years ago, the largest coast redwood was larger than 99.99% of all known giant sequoia.

    Then from 2014 to 2016, even larger coast redwood were discovered, exceeding all giant sequoia for girth. One even surpassing General Sherman’s “champion” points related to it’s rank in the national big tree registry.

    So there are large trees in both types of forest.

    • I get my information from many sources. Probably, the Sequoia forests are more well known than the Redwood forests. We will see how discoveries in the field changes things.


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