Soldiers Loop Trail in Giant Forest

The Soldiers Loop Trail intersects with the road to Crescent Meadow at Tunnel Log. As you drive to Crescent Meadow, park in the paved area just before Tunnel Log on the right. Across the road (before the bypass turnoff) look for a sign that says “Museum 1.6”. You can follow this trail all the way back to the Museum. It intersects with the Hazelwood Nature Trail as you get closer to the Generals Highway.  You can walk a short distance from Tunnel Log and see many beautiful Giant Sequoias.

Soldiers Loop Trail was originally built by the US Army, which oversaw the protection of the Park from 1891-1913. Read more about this historical time HERE. The full trail is a 4.6 mile loop, starting from the Giant Forest Museum, following along the Crescent Meadow Road to Moro Rock, then looping back past Tunnel Log through the heart of Giant Forest.

[all photos © Elsah Cort]


Trail in Giant Forest © Elsah Cort       Soldiers Loop Trail © Elsah Cort

Trail in Giant Forest © Elsah Cort

Some of the many Giant Sequoia Trees…

Dogwood Trees in Giant Forest © Elsah Cort

Fall colors from the Dogwood Trees…

Giant Forest © Elsah Cort

Dogwood color, Giant Forest © Elsah Cort

Contributor: Elsah Cort of Cort Cottage Bed and Breakfast



2014 Facebook Photo Contest from Sequoia National Park

The official facebook page for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will open the voting for the 2014 contest next week. You will need to “like” the page to be able to vote. Over 100 photos were submitted this year. Winners will be announced around February 21.

The Park Staff will set up a Facebook Photo Contest Album for the contest and fans can “Like” as many photos as they want as their votes. The number of photos for the “Fan Favorite” category could be limited based upon quality, appropriateness of the photo, and number of submissions.


[photo via Sequoia-and-Kings-Canyon-National-Parks]

Sequoia Speaks Series Returns

The winter “Sequoia Speaks” series of weekly lectures and presentations starts on January 29. Discover the untold stories of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks through the explorations and experiences of scientists, artists, and historians. This series is resented by the National Park Service. See dates and topics below image.

All programs are free and open to the public, and will be held at the Three Rivers Arts Center on North Fork Drive in Three Rivers.


SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2011  7-8 pm
Climate is Changing and So Must We
Accelerated changes in climate and its impacts to water and ecosystems are already being observed in many parts of our planet, including the Southern Sierra Nevada, and more are projected. In the face of these unprecedented global changes, past conditions no longer provide us with sensible management targets. What are land managers to do? The future is uncertain, forcing us to think and act in fundamentally new ways. Koren Nydick, Science Coordinator, will address what the National Park Service and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are doing to meet this challenge head-on.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2011   7-8 pm
Shifting Water Dynamics in the Sierra Nevada National Parks and their Consequences
Meet Jennie Skancke, the Sierra Network’s new physical scientist, and discover what profound implications warming temperatures and shifts from snow to rain in the Sierra Nevada will have for resources in the national parks and for state water management. Find out how anticipating and documenting these changes will allow the National Park Service resource managers and state water managers to focus their restoration or protection efforts.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2011   7-8 pm
Fire in the National Park Service: An Evolving Relationship
Patterns of fire occurrence in the Sierra Nevada are governed by biological factors, such as plant species composition and fuel production, and environmental and physical factors, such as topography, weather, and climate. Global climate change is likely to cause changes to these patterns. Tony Caprio, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park’s fire ecologist will look at past and contemporary patterns and consider how they may change in the future.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2011  7-8 pm
Taking the Long View: park biologists and citizen scientists working together to monitor alpine plant communities
Join Park Plant Ecologist, Sylvia Haultain, on a stunning photographic tour of the plants and animals that live above treeline. She will highlight the parks’ participation in the international Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) network and the newly established High Sierra monitoring sites in the Mt. Langley area. Discover an exciting new program that engages you, citizen scientists, in documenting changes in the timing of life cycle events of local plants. Your observations can contribute to our understanding of local climate change effects.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2011  7-8 pm
A Legacy of Joseph Grinnell: predicting the future from the record of the past
Joseph Grinnell, the founding director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC-Berkeley and an influential naturalist of the early 20th century, began his career at the museum with this vision: “…the greatest purpose of our museum…will not be realized until the lapse of many years, possibly a century…and this is that the student of the future will have access to the original record of vertebrate conditions in California.” Grinnell’s vision stemmed from his concern for the loss of nature habitats, but today we also face climate change.
Join Jim Patton, Curator and Professor Emeritus, from the University of California, Berkeley in his discussion of the Grinnell Resurvey Project. This project began in 2003 and centered along the length of the Sierra Nevada as a realization of Grinnell’s early vision. He will detail the changes in range distributions of small mammals and birds over the past century, discuss the potential forces underlying these shifts, and address the likely future for several of our most iconic terrestrial vertebrate species.

For more information, please call 559-565-4212.
Image source:

Celebrating 70 Years for the Sequoia Natural History Association

Sequoia Natural History Association
“Celebrating 70 Years” Partnership Weekend
April 23, 24, 25,  2010

The first member gathering was at the Ash Mountain Headquarters in 1988. In 2010, we are bringing it back as we “Celebrate 70 Years”. Please join us for this special and exclusive event, dedicated to our SNHA members only. The programs will fill up quickly. Special activities will require smaller group sizes and are on a first-sign up, first registered basis. Deadline to register is April 9th, 2010. An itinerary packet will be mailed to you confirming your activity availability.

Friday, April 23 Park Partner Mixer – join the SNHA staff and members of the board of directors for an intimate reception and open conversation at the Ash Mountain Recreation Hall. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages will be served and an array of appetizers from “Around the World”.  Then, sit back and enjoy “Tracking the first Sierra Mountaineers: from Clarence King to Norman Clyde”- author Daniel Arnold will present slides and stories from his new book Early Days in the Range of Light.  Arnold spent four years retracing the routes of the original Sierra mountaineers.  In the spirit of his predecessors, he used only rudimentary equipment–no ropes, no harnesses, no specialized climbing shoes. In an artful blend of history, biography, nature, and adventure writing, along with dozens of photographs, Arnold brings to life both the journeys and the stunning terrain. 5:30pm to 7:30pm, $25 per person, limited to 40 guests

Saturday, April 24th (this is a entrance fee-free day!)
Tracking the Trail Day Hike
– join a SFI naturalist for a mid-morning walk in Giant Forest following the tracks of of local critters. 9:30am to 11:30am, limited to 14 members attending the dinner & member event.

Junior Ranger Family Day –  hosted by NPS and located at Hospital Rock, check out the hands-on exploration stations that provide a glimpse into the jobs of park rangers & cave naturalists.  Not just for kids! 10:00am to 2:00pm, free and open to all park visitors

Historic Tour of Park Headquarters
– join park experts as they introduce you to the working heart of the national parks, Ash Mountain Headquarters. 2:30pm to 4:00pm, free for members attending the dinner  & member event

Dinner & Member Event
– SNHA staff will transform Park Headquarters to a delightful dinner for our members.  Listen to the river roll by as we reminisce the good times of the past 70 years.  Guest speakers, free gifts, an exclusive, after-hours visitor center sale, tour of the SNHA office and more.  Dinner Menu: beef brisket, tomato-basil pasta, roasted veggies, garden salad, rolls & birthday cake 4:00pm to 7:00pm, $22 adults, $5 children, limited to 125 guests.

Under the Night Sky – check out the constellations and hear a tale or two about the legends of the night sky. Program will be held in the Ash Mountain area. 8:30pm, free for all SNHA members.

Sunday, April 25th
Foothills Wildflower Walk – spring is the ideal season to stroll the foothills of the Sierra. Flowers blooming, birds chirping as you gander with an expert in Sierra Nevada flora. 9:00am to 11:00am, limited to 14 members attending the dinner & member event

Breakfast & Barge Tour – enjoy a light breakfast and hop aboard a barge as you tour Lake Kaweah with a naturalist.  Learn the natural history of the area and observe wildlife from the water. 9:00am to 11:30am, $20.00 per person, limited to 15 people.

Call 559.565.4222 for more information. 
Become a member
of the Sequoia Natural History Association.

(photo from SNHA website)

Truth in Advertising…about the natural world

The National Parks Traveler asked on twitter: what’s wrong with this “Sequoia National Park” drawing on the back of a box of Safeway brand Rice Pockets Cereal?

“The answer is that it isn’t in a national park at all. If you could make out the writing on the sign on the tree in the drawing, you would read “Chandelier Tree.” That tree is located in Underwood Park (aka “Drive-Thru Tree Park”) in Leggett, California. That puts it about 450 miles northwest of Sequoia National Park. That’s not all, the Chandelier Tree isn’t even a Giant Sequoia. It’s a Coast Redwood.”

Read the full story by Jess Stryker of the National Parks Traveler here.
Follow the National Parks Traveler on twitter.

I remember driving through this tree in Northern California
(when I was a kid in the 1950’s.)

Sequoia Speaks Series

This year, the Ken Burns’ ‘America’s Best Idea’ series captured the imagination of the entire nation. Discover the untold stories of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks  through the explorations and experiences of scientists, artists, and historians. Three Rivers Arts Center, 7-8 pm. All programs are free and open to the public.

Diggin’ the Parks: Archeology and the National Park Service
Come learn more about the role archeology plays in the National Park Service and more specifically, in your parks: Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Park Archeologist Jane Allen will describe what archeologists do and what can you do to help maintain archeological resources when you’re visiting the parks.

Science in the National Park Service: An Evolving Relationship
Join David Graber, Pacific West Region Chief Scientist, as he explores how science has informed park management and interpretation over the decades and how that evolution continues today.

Women in the National Parks
Since the inception of the national parks, women have played a critical role in mission development, day-to- day operations, and living legacy. From early residents to national policymakers, Adrienne Freeman, Acting Public Affairs Specialist, will share stories of women who have shaped the picture of the modern day park service. Join us immediately following this presentation as we welcome Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first female superintendent, Karen Taylor Goodrich.

A Transect—Due East

Join artist and San Joaquin Valley native Matthew Rangel in his discussion of original lithographs inspired by his pilgrimage from the valley floor, through the foothills, and up to the high reaches of the Great Western Divide of the Southern Sierra.

Due East from Moro Rock ©Matthew Rangel

National Parks in a Changing World
Since 1872, national parks have been dedicated to the dream that they could protect forever the resources within them. In other words, they would be places that would never change. But what does promise mean now in a world dominated by processes like global climate change? To explore this thought-provoking question, local author Bill Tweed will present some key ideas from his new book Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks, to be published later this year by the University of California Press.


For more information, please call 559-565-4212.
Sequoia Speaks is presented by the National Park Service.

The Three Rivers Arts Center is on North Fork Drive,
a short way from the Hwy 198 turnoff.

Tree Dance

Visiting the Park at this time of year offers a special experience.  Few visitors come now, so you have Giant Forest almost to yourself.  It has always been a mystery to me about why everyone seems to come at the same time to see the trees.  Wonder if the trees are lonely without us right about now?  Or are we just missing something wonderful by not hanging out with some very big friends?

Great source for where to stay in Three Rivers can be found here.

photo by Phil Haack from his blog


PS: tomorrow is the Holiday Bazaar in Three Rivers
from 9-4 at the Memorial Bldg.
Enjoy local creativity, from home jams to birdhouses and wreaths.
Don’t forget to sample the great cinnamon rolls!

Visit Mineral King on the next “free” weekend for Sequoia National Park

August 15 and 16 will be the last of three weekends this summer that the entrance fees for all National Parks are waived.

So……how about visiting a gem in the Sierras, the Mineral King valley in Sequoia National Park? The road to Mineral King is open seasonally, starting in late spring to early fall, so summer is a great time to visit this serene high mountain valley.

Mineral King valley from
Mineral King valley from

from the National Park Website: Mineral King Valley, an open glacial canyon hemmed in by the peaks of the Great Western Divide, has a special place in the hearts of many park visitors. Accessible only by a long, slow-going road, the valley is a place where nature, not man, dominates. This road to this area closes from November 1 to late May. Road is steep. RVs and trailers strongly discouraged. Read about day hikes in the higher elevations from Mineral King.

Wilderness designation heals wounds of Mineral King battle: In 1978, the U. S. Congress resolved the question by transferring the land to Sequoia National Park with the instruction that no skiing facilities would ever be constructed there…Now, decades later, Congress has again acted with regard to the management of the Mineral King area. This time it has decreed that the high bowl areas of the 1978 park addition that were once proposed for ski lifts should be designated as wilderness, a status that will preserve them forever as wild and undeveloped.  This new wilderness, created with the assistance of local Congressman Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, will be known as the John Krebs Wilderness.
read rest of article by Bill Tweed in Visalia Times Delta, July 25, 2009

images-4 images-1 images-6

from the blog editor, a Mineral King memory: It was late Spring in 1979 when I drove up the Mineral King road in my little red fiat, camera on the seat beside me, hoping to see wildflowers blooming.  In those days I used to call myself a photographer and during the years from 1977-78 I was graced to have known Gene Gray, a long time resident of Three Rivers and famous photographer in his own right, who loved to tell me how the old Mineral King stage road used to go right in front of his house, 40 years before the house was built.

On October 15, 1978, I came to visit Gene in the late afternoon, and I found him with a large bound document in his hand. With joy and awe infusing his words, he proudly proclaimed it was a copy of the Congressional Record of the bill that had put the Mineral King Valley under the care of the National Park Service.  He spent several hours that afternoon recalling the great debate and challenge to the proposed Disney ski resort.  I wish, with all my heart, that I had a tape recording of all that he said to me as I sat in his living room, with such a glorious view up the Kaweah River canyon to Alta Peak.  Later that evening, Gene died unexpectedly at the age of 72.

The next spring, there I was on another one of my solitary photo adventures I used to take often. (Note to self: how about doing this more often now?) Because the Park had taken over responsibility of Mineral King, I found my car blocked at a gate several miles outside the valley.  I am not sure now exactly where that gate was, but it had not been there before on other trips up the road.  Not knowing how far I was from the valley, but thinking it was not too far, I started walking. I was wearing canvas Ked sneakers (no hiking shoes in those days.)  It was early in the morning, sunny and green and beautiful.  I had seen no other cars on the road, and now walking, I saw no one else.  Soon I came upon some patches of snow on the road, and just walked around them on the dirt. I remember how warm the day was and how the snow seemed out of place.

As I walked higher and higher, more and more snow appeared and I had to make a decision.  I could see that the mouth of the valley was very near, but by then there was no escape from having to walk in the snow. My heart was set on being in that valley, and so I did not give up.  I walked on in, finally almost knee deep in snow, my feet freezing.  But I had seen a large rock coming up out of the snow to the left, and that became my goal.  I made it and thawed out both feet and wet shoes on the warm granite face.  I stayed there for quite some time.

It was a Sunday in that beautiful high mountain place.  I was the only living human as far as I could see.  Totally alone in Mineral King that day,  I experienced  a new sacredness.  No man-made church matched that mountain one.  It’s still there.

[Yes, I know it probably was not the wisest thing to do, to walk on like that all alone….]

Photo essay about Disney and Mineral King: see photos from 40 years ago Join Jim Hill & Nancy Stadler for a drive high, High, HIGH into the Sierra Nevadas to visit the exact spot where Walt Disney wanted to build a ski resort. Enjoy all of the beautiful scenery … but keep an eye out for marmots!

Walt Disney brings reporters to Mineral King in 1966.
Walt Disney brings reporters to Mineral King in 1966.

Earlier times visiting Mineral King in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s:
from Beginning in June until after the 4th of July celebrations in San Jaoquin Valley towns, men escorted their families up the Mineral road in “buggies”, on the horse drawn stage or in freight wagons, hauling all the staples needed for a two or three month stay in the mountains. The men might visit their families occasionally during the summer, but it was a long two day trip each way.  There were casual delivery and mail services by those who did go up the road but they were intermittent, so the responsibilities of Mineral King living lay almost entirely with the women.  They became a large, extended family, helping and caring for each other’s needs with a constant sharing of supplies with friends.

the Mineral King early 1900's, a two trip to get there
the Mineral King stage at the store early 1900's

An artist’s view of Mineral King: from the blog of Jana Botkin local artist, famous for her Mineral King drawings and paintings, and recent mural of Mineral King in Exeter, CA.

a working vacation, as you can see by all these little canvases drying on the back of the cabin
little canvases drying on the back of the cabin

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