National Parks Depot Blog » hiking tips
Sequoia National Park is one of the most incredible and unique places in the world. With treetops towering at nearly 300 feet and over 404,000 acres of preserved land, this vast California park is comprised of 97% wilderness and offers 800 miles of uncrowded hiking trails. Technically referred to as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, as the two parks are now recognized as one by the National Park Service, this breathtaking landscape certainly boasts the best of both. Mountains, canyons, and giant sequoias are but a few of the wondrous displays of nature that can be found here.
Sequoia National Park is also home to the largest living organism on the planet ― General Sherman Tree. While it is not the tallest tree on the planet, nor the widest, it is estimated that General Sherman Tree is between 2,300 and 2,700 years old, making it a middle-aged sequoia skyscraper. (The oldest recorded giant sequoia is believed to have reached 3,500 years, based on tree ring counts.) It is, however, believed that General Sherman Tree may be the fastest growing tree of its kind. It would also appear that a giant sequoia could essentially live forever if it were not for an unprecedented catastrophic event, such as a fire or by erosion. We can barely begin to imagine all that this tree has seen and endured during its lifetime. From climate change to forest fires to the age of the modern man... it’s truly amazing to think about!
If you plan on visiting the park, which we highly recommend you do, don’t miss out on hiking the park’s most rewarding and challenging trail, Trail of the Sequoias. This 5-mile loop climbs over several ridges, down into four secluded meadows, and leads you into a forest full of sequoias. While there are other popular trails to embark on, such as the Congress Trail and Big Trees Trail, the Trail of the Sequoias is an excellent path to take if you seek solitude. If you ever find yourself fortunate enough to explore the land of the giants in your lifetime, consider it both an honor and a privilege. Relax, take your time, and soak in the beauty and wonder that surrounds you.
Did you know that there are a number of national parks in the United States that are dog-friendly? (We were surprised, too!) Generally, dogs are restricted from visiting national parks in an effort to protect them from wildlife as well as to preserve the park’s natural resources. When we looked into it though, we actually found out that some of our favorite parks allow leashed pets on specified trails, which is great news for those of us who don’t want to leave our furry friends back at home. Letting your dog tag along on your hiking adventures can be beneficial for both you and your pet. While it may sometimes feel like less of a hassle to travel solo, allowing your dog to join you on the trail will not only promote bonding time, but it will give your dog a chance to exercise, sniff around, and stimulate his or her brain.
Acadia National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Great Sand Dunes National Park are a few of our favorite dog-friendly national parks that are worth checking out. Here is a helpful list of things to pack in both your backpack and your pet’s travel pack before you hit the trails:
- A canteen filled with plenty of drinkable water
- A collapsible water bowl to keep your pup hydrated
- Dog treats to reward good behavior
- Dry dog food if you plan on being out for a while (optional)
- Plastic waste bags
- Dog shoes or paw protectors (especially for hiking in hotter months)
- A first aid kit
As always, when you decide to bring your dog out on a hike, a certain amount of responsibility is required. Please remember to keep your pet leashed and properly identified, pick up waste, look out for wildlife, and only hike on permitted trails. Always keep your dog close, hydrated, and know his physical limits. And as the saying goes, “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time.”