Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest
Trail of 100 Giants is an easy 1.3-mile hike in Sequoia National Forest that winds through Long Meadow Grove, one of the most majestic stands of giant sequoia trees in the United States.
If you are planning to visit this part of the Sierra Nevadas and want to experience the wonder of standing next to some of the most impressive specimens of this magnificent tree species, this is a highly recommended stop.
It’s a reasonable day trip from the Kernville area, which is popular for whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. Note that the grove is not within Sequoia-Kings National Park, which is further north in the Sierras and not easily accessible from this location.
|Elevation Gain/Loss||130 feet/-130 feet|
|Trailhead Coordinates||35.976981, -118.596203|
|Location||Sequoia National Forest, California|
|Best Season||April – October|
If you are planning to visit Sequoia National Forest, recommend you bring the Forest Service map. Gaia GPS also has detailed maps of the area for smartphones, tablets and computers.
Getting to Trail of 100 Giants
Trail of 100 Giants Trailhead is located on the Great Western Divide Highway (M90). During the winter, the road is typically snowbound and closed. Due to this, the trail is typically closed during the winter and open from April to October. Also, it’s worth checking during the summer whether the area is inaccessible due to wildfires. Smoke or fire threat can make the area either unpleasant or impossible to visit.
The trail is about 45 miles northwest of Kernville, 41 miles southeast of Springville, and 15 miles northeast of California Hot Springs.
Travel 22 miles north on County Mountain Route (M) 99 to Johnsondale. Continue west 7 miles on M50 to M107, and turn right (north). Travel 2.5 miles to the Trail of 100 Giants parking area or Redwood Meadow Campground. Travel time is about 1.5 hrs.
Take Hwy 65 north to Avenue 56 and turn east to Ducor and Fountain Springs. At Fountain Springs, continue straight on M56 through California Hot Springs. Pass the Hot Springs Work Center and continue up the mountain approximately one mile beyond Parker Pass, stopping at the intersection of M107. Turn left (north) on M107 and drive 2.5 miles. Travel time is about 1.5 hrs.
Take Hwy 190 east through Springville (you will pass the Western Divide Ranger Station). Hwy 190 turns into the Western Divide Highway (M107) near Quaking Aspen; stay on it as it heads south. From Quaking Aspen, the driving distance is about 13 miles. Travel time from Springville is about 1.5 hrs.
Parking & Camping
There is a paved parking area that charges a small day-use fee. Redwood Meadow Campground is nearby, in case you’re looking to spend the night in the area.
The day-use parking lot is just across the Great Western Divide Highway from the trailhead, and there is a vault toilet available. Crossing over the road, the paved path heads into the tall trees.
Trail of 100 Giants comprises two major interconnected loops that wind through the Giant Sequoia and at one point cross a creek. The trail is paved throughout, making it very accessible.
I visited the trail with my two-year-old son and my parents and no one struggled with the hike–we brought a stroller along just in case, which was fine on the paved path.
Long Meadow Grove encompasses about 341 acres and contains around 825 sequoias–with more than 125 of them having a diameter of greater than 10 feet. The largest tree in the grove has a diameter of 20 feet and is 220 feet in height. It is estimated that the ages of larger giant sequoia trees in the grove are up to 1,500 years old.
Along the trail, you’ll pass by enormous trees–no surprises there–as well as fallen giants. Some of the trees have hollow fire scars at their base that my son couldn’t help but explore. Long Meadow Creek runs through the grove and a bridge crossing the creek connects the two major loops of the trail.
The trail passed through lush meadows in places, and if you are there in June and July, you’ll likely catch the wildflower bloom. In the fall, the grove glows golden from the changing leaves of the black oaks that live among the sequoias.
When we were visiting the grove, the forest service was conducting a prescribed burn to protect the grove in case of a wildfire. Unfortunately, these trees are under serious threat due to global warming, which has significantly greater the length and severity of fire season in the Sierras.
If you are planning a trip to the 100 Giants Trail, it’s probably worth calling the ranger station to find out if a prescribed burn is planned. I’d recommend avoiding those days due to the smoke.
What are Giant Sequoias?
Giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are coniferous trees that grow at middle elevations along the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. The giant sequoia is the world’s largest species of tree by volume and can grow to be more than 270 feet tall and 36-40 feet in circumference at the base.
The giant sequoia is known for its longevity as well as its size, with individuals living more than 3,000 years. The giant sequoia was made the official state tree of California in 1931.
About Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Forest occupies 1.1 million acres of land in the Southern California portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The forest spans three counties: Tulare, Inyo, and Kern County.
The forest offers many adventures for outdoor enthusiasts, offering 52 developed campgrounds, hiking on more than 1,147 miles of trails including 47 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, over 314,448 acres of wilderness, 222 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, 2,617 rivers and streams, world-class whitewater rapids, 158 ponds and lakes, boating, fishing, biking, horseback riding and more.
The geography within the forest varies widely. The elevation ranges from 1,300 to 14,000 feet, and the climate changes with the elevation. The lower elevations are hot and dry, while the higher elevations are cool and moist. The forest is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including 648 species of trees and plants, deer, black bears, mountain lions, and bobcats. There are also various species of trout in the forest’s creeks, lakes, and rivers.