Article Overview: The General Sherman Tree – Largest Tree in the World
Located in America’s second oldest national park, Sequoia, the General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world. Just how big is it you ask?
In this article, you’ll learn all about this amazing tree and the park which is its home.
Table of Contents: General Sherman Tree
General Sherman Tree
- Things to Know Before You Visit the General Sherman Tree
- Best Time to Visit the General Sherman Tree
- Where to Stay Near General Sherman Tree
- General Sherman Tree
- History Of The General Sherman Tree
- How Big Is The General Sherman Tree?
- Was The General Sherman Tree Originally Named After Karl Marx?
- Visiting The General Sherman Tree
- Facts About The World’s Largest Tree – The General Sherman
- The “President” Tree
- The General Sherman is as Tall as a 26-Story Building
- General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park
- Sequoia National Park Is Home To The Tallest Mountain In The Lower 48 States
- The Great Basin Divide
- Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Feature Over 800 Miles Of Trails
- General Sherman Tree In The News
- The First President To Stay At Sequoia While In Office
- Helpful Related Articles
- About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- History Of The General Sherman Tree
Things to Know Before You Visit the General Sherman Tree
$15 per vehicle OR if you plan to visit more National Parks within the next 12 months I suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks). This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.
Use it. Lots of it. Especially this one which I never leave the house without because it plays nice with our dear friend, earth 🙂
Fuel up fully before you get into the park. Drive times are longer than you might assume because there are no through roads. Drive times from some destinations can be hours apart. More on drive times below.
Cell Service is spotty in the park but there is reception here and there.
The Best Map: I like this map best for Sequoia National Park.
Drink it. Lots of it. Don’t forget it in the car.
Best Time to Visit the General Sherman Tree
The Best Time to Visit the General Sherman Tree is early in the morning before the crowds form from August through October when temperatures are generally mild and weather is favorable. Another great time to go is during the winter to see the stunning contrasts of the snow against the red bark of the sequoias.
Wildfires are still a major risk during this time period so make sure your plans are flexible and have a plan in the event they impact your visit.
Restaurants & Food Options at Sequoia
Food options are available in the Sequoia area with a total of seven possible dining options spread throughout the park. The Wuksachi Lodge offers fine dining while other lodges and areas offer more casual options. Visit the park website for more information on food options in the park.
General Sherman Tree
History Of The General Sherman Tree
How Old is the General Sherman Tree
Located in the Sequoia National Park, the General Sherman Tree is the largest known living single stem tree on earth. The tree is thought to be between 2,300 to 2,700 years old.
How Big Is The General Sherman Tree?
It stands at a height of 274.9 feet, with a circumference at the base of 102.6 ft. The branches found on this tree measure up to 7 feet wide in diameter. However you look at it, it’s one incredible tree.
How Did the General Sherman Tree Get its Name?
How did the General Sherman Tree get its name? That’s an interesting story. In 1879, a cowboy and fur trapper by the name of James Wolverton is reported to have discovered the tree. It was the biggest tree Wolverton had ever seen.
Wolverton had served under General William Tecumseh Sherman as a lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Calvary. He therefore decided to name the tree after his commanding officer.
The tree itself is located on the General’s Highway with the second largest tree in the world (named after another general) located just down the road.
William Tweed set out to prove whether, in fact, this story is true. He writes, “Not until 1897, in fact, did soldiers first write down the name “General Sherman Tree” in a report. That summer, they placed a sign on the tree with that name.”
Was The General Sherman Tree Originally Named After Karl Marx?
This is where the story gets rather interesting. In 1884, a socialist Utopian group known as the Kaweah Colony explored the area. They were looking for trees for logging.
The group discovered this giant tree and gave it the name “Karl Marx,” after the man who invented communism.
After the creation of the Sequoia National Park in 1890, soldiers were dispatched to the area. They came across these Kaweah Colonists and expelled them. Did the soldiers rename the tree?
The only evidence available was a park guide which was first published in 1921. The guide tells the story of James Wolverton and the General Sherman Tree. This is the first published account substantiating the Wolverton Story.
It appeared 42 years after the event was supposed to have taken place. So, it’s difficult to say whether, in fact, the story is actually true.
Visiting The General Sherman Tree
There’s a trail in Sequoia National Park called the General Sherman Tree Trail. It’s a 1.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Three Rivers, California features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels.
The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.
The easiest way to get there is to park off Wolverton Road. You take the Main Trail, which is roughly half a mile. The path is paved with stairs.
It’s a beautiful hike as it passes through the Giant Forest’s sequoia grove, which features displays and exhibits with facts about the giant sequoias. The walk to the tree is downhill, while the return trip is uphill.
Facts About The World’s Largest Tree – The General Sherman
Tree Height: 274.9 feet
Weight: 4.188783 million lbs
Tree Circumference: 102.6 ft
Age: 2,300 to 2,700 years old
The Base Size: 36 ft diameter at the base
The General Sherman Tree is classified as a “Sequoia.” It’s not only the largest tree in the world, but it’s also the largest living organism, based on volume, on the entire planet.
For scale, the General Sherman Tree (275 ft) is slightly shorter than the US Capitol Building (288 ft), the Statue of Liberty (305 ft), and Big Ben (315 ft). The General Sherman Tree is taller than the Space Shuttle (188 ft).
General Sherman is not alone. There’s another famous sequoia tree nearby in Kings Canyon National Park.
It’s the second-largest tree in the world, standing at 267 feet tall and nearly 29 feet wide at the base. It’s named the General Grant Tree.
Winston Churchill is reported to have once said, “The winners write the history.” It looks like they get the big trees named after them too.
The “President” Tree
As long as we’re listing the world’s tallest trees, here’s another. The third-largest tree in the world, based on volume, is a giant sequoia known as the “President.” This tree also happens to be the oldest known living sequoia. It has been growing for 3,200 years.
How is it that sequoia trees can grow for so long? They are able to protect themselves against naturals threats. The tannic acid found in their sap helps the trees fight off fungal rot, protects them from parasites and acts as a fire repellent against low-intensity burns.
The only way these amazing trees reproduce is through seeds. These seeds remain in their pine cones for almost twenty years without seeing any sunlight.
Believe it or not, the heat which results from naturally occurring forest fires helps to release these seeds them from the pine cones into the soil.
The General Sherman is as Tall as a 26-Story Building
Another interesting fact is that these trees are the third longest-lived tree species and typically have a lifespan of 3,000 years. The largest of these trees are equivalent in height to a 26-story building.
Here’s another fascinating fact. Sequoia National Park was the first park actually created to protect a living organism.
General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park
If you’ve read Jonathan Swift’s classic, Gulliver’s Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, it’s the story of Lemuel Gulliver who journeys to four amazing lands.
While his most famous voyage was to Lilliput (ergo the “Lilliputians” or “Little People”), in one of Gulliver’s other journeys, he travels to the land of Brobdingnag where a blade of grass is as tall as a tree.
You don’t have to travel to Brobdingnag to experience what Gulliver did. Travel to Sequoia National Park where the trees are so tall and so amazing that you’ll feel like a Lilliputian in this land of the giants.
These massive Sequoia trees actually grow between 5,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation.
How is this possible you might ask? At Sequoia, the winters are relatively mild which makes it a perfect natural habitat for these incredible specimens to grow and thrive.
Sequoia National Park Is Home To The Tallest Mountain In The Lower 48 States
It’s not just tall trees that Sequoia National Park has to offer. Sequoia also has the tallest mountain in the lower contiguous 48 states.
Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States. It has an elevation of 14,505 feet. The mountain’s west slope is located in Sequoia National Park. The southern terminus of the John Muir Trail is where the summit is located.
The Great Basin Divide
Remember that wonderful song from The Sound Of Music, which Julie Andrews sings? It’s called “Climb Every Mountain.” While you may not want to climb every mountain, if you’re looking for a mountain to climb you won’t find many higher than Mount Whitney.
From the peak of Mount Whitney, you can see the incredible majesty of the Sierra Nevada range and look down into the beautiful Owens Valley. This magnificent mountain is the highest point of the Great Basin Divide.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Feature Over 800 Miles Of Trails
To paraphrase Nancy Sinatra, “These parks are made for walking. That’s just what they do.” While you’re visiting the world’s tallest tree, why not check out some of the incredible hiking trails at Sequoia and its next door neighbor, Kings Canyon National Park.
If walking’s what you love to do then check out the John Muir Trail. It’s a 221-mile trail stretching from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. It travels through Kings Canyon and into Sequoia so you get two parks for the price of one.
If you’re a hiker then know that the best hiking season is from July to September when the weather is sunny and dry. Permits are not required for day kikes unless you’re planning to hike Mount Whitney. Consider going in the early morning or evening hours to escape the heat of the day.
General Sherman Tree In The News
The General Sherman Tree has been in the news as of late. Firefighters have been battling a major wildfire in Sequoia National Park. The 88,307-acre blaze has been dubbed the KNP Complex Fire after two fires merged into one.
In a precautionary move, firefighters wrapped the massive trunk of the tree with special aluminum foil-like material to protect General Sherman from flames of encroaching wildfires.
In a positive report from the brave men and women on the front lines of this massive wildfire, officials said they were feeling fairly confident about protecting the Giant Forest and its thousands of towering sequoias.
The First President To Stay At Sequoia While In Office
The average male has 25% body fat. As President, George W. Bush had a a body fat of 14%. How did he do it? According the the White House, he worked on an elliptical machine two days a week, lifted weights two days a week, ran an average of four miles four days each week and did regular stretching exercises.
George W. Bush was clearly one of our more physically fit presidents while in office. When jogging became too difficult as a result of knee surgeries, he took up mountain biking instead. This man did not shy away from rugged physical exercise even on the hottest of days.
He was also the first president to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks while in office. While there, he took a walking tour of Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park on May 1, 2001.
Helpful Related Articles
Sequoia National Park Facts: 10 Fascinating Sequoia National Park Facts
Things to Do at Sequoia National Park: 15 Amazing Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
General Grant Tree: General Grant Tree: Everything to Know About the 2nd Largest Tree in the World
Things to Do Redwood National Park: 15 Stunning Things to Do at Redwood National Park
California National Parks: 20 Best California National Parks to Visit
About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues.
Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then please sign up below!