General Grant Gove is a half-mile loop encompassing giant sequoias within Kings Canyon National Park (located near the Big Stump Entrance, accessed via Highway 180), particularly its namesake tree, the General Grant Grove. The world’s second-largest tree is for sure an impressive sight, but not the only one worth stopping for in this area. Make the most of your visit with the six best sights in Grant Grove on your list.
Grant Grove Village
The tree after which the General Grant Grove is named is not only the second-largest tree by volume in the world, it’s also the nation’s only living war memorial.Grant Grove Village (year-round) is one of the busiest visitor areas in Kings Canyon and one of the best places to come if you need services. It has a large visitors center, a restaurant, a gift shop (9am-6pm Sun.-Thurs., 9am-7pm Fri.-Sat.), a grocery market, public showers, a lodge, and cabins. Three of the park’s nicest campgrounds are close by, as is the gargantuan General Grant Tree. Grant Grove is on the west side of the park area, separated from the much larger section of Kings Canyon by a gulf of national forest. Still, Grant Grove may well be central to your Kings Canyon experience. It’s just 3.5 miles from the Big Stump park entrance on Highway 180, and it works well as a home base from which to venture out on explorations.
Kings Canyon Visitor Center
The large visitors center in Grant Grove, Kings Canyon Visitor Center (83918 Hwy. 180 E., 559/565-4307, 8am-5pm daily May-Nov., 9am-4:30pm daily Nov.-May) is three miles from the Highway 180 entrance and is run by the National Park Service (unlike other parts of Grant Grove Village, which are managed by a commercial concessionaire). This is the place to get maps, information about camping and hiking, ranger talks, and other park activities; check weather conditions and road closures for the whole park; explore the well-designed exhibits about park ecology and history; and chat with park rangers.
General Grant Grove
The tree after which the General Grant Grove is named is not only the second-largest tree by volume in the world, it’s also the nation’s only living war memorial, as declared by President Dwight Eisenhower who made it a national shrine in 1956. (That’s after Calvin Coolidge ennobled it as the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” in 1926.) This 1,700-year-old tree is about 268 feet tall, with a diameter of 40 feet and a volume of 46,608 cubic feet. Of all the giant sequoias that have been discovered and studied, this is the widest. You’ll still see some references to General Grant as the third-largest tree on earth, but its ranking improved in 2005, when the Washington tree lost some of its stature in a fire. Now Grant is second only to General Sherman, its compatriot at the other end of the Generals Highway. From the visitors center, head north on Kings Canyon Road then turn left (signed).
Panoramic Point is one of the best viewpoints in the parks. To get here, drive east through the Kings Canyon Visitor Center parking lot, turn left at the meadow, and then turn right onto the steep and winding road marked Panoramic Point. (This route is closed in winter and is not appropriate for trailers.) In 2.3 miles you’ll reach the parking lot and the 0.25-mile walk to the ridge. From your perch at more than 7,500 feet you’ll see Hume Lake, Kings Canyon, and mountains and trees galore. The Park Ridge Trail also starts here and leads to a fire lookout.
Redwood Mountain Overlook
From Grant Grove, travel south on Generals Highway for six miles and look for the signed Redwood Mountain Overlook. Pull over to look out over one of the world’s largest groves of giant sequoias. It’s fun to see them from above for once. The trailhead for the Redwood Mountain Grove is two miles farther down a dirt road.
Kings Canyon Overlook
Kings Canyon Overlook is very close to Redwood Mountain Overlook and about six miles southeast of Grant Grove. Watch for signs (they’re large and easy to spot) along Generals Highway and pull over into the ample roadside parking area. Descriptive signs help identify the peaks and groves surrounding you. Break out the binoculars if you’ve got a pair.
Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Northern California.