This article was originally published July 17, 2014
by the Daily Independent, Ridgecrest, CA
Aaah, July in the desert…
Not my favorite time of the year here. It’s hot, it’s humid and downright miserable. So today I thought I would share a day trip to the Sequoia National Park’s Trail of 100 Giants up above Kernville. And hope to inspire you to get out of the desert for at least a short and much cooler respite.
I have always been inspired by the Redwoods. They are some of the oldest living beings on this planet. My first trip to the Sequoia’s was in 2011 and I keep going back over and over again.
The Western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California at 5000 to 7000 feet elevation is the only place these trees are found; they are closely related to the Coast Redwoods which are located in Northern California, the Giant Sequoias are a little shorter with thicker trunks. They are all magnificent.
I like to leave early, before sunrise and get above our valley on Hwy 178 as the sun is coming up. This time of year the skies often have a few clouds in the air, just enough to create a dramatic sunrise over the valley. It is a wonderful way to start the trip and leaving the desert while it is still cool helps to ease you into a happy adventure.
There are 3 ways to get there from Ridgecrest, I like to go around Lake Isabella through Kernville, so I can start thinking about where I would like to stop on my way home for a treat. There are lot’s of options around Circle Park as well as antique shops and art galleries.
On leaving Kernville, you head north across the bridge, and take a left on Sierra Way which turns into Mountain 99. It is a winding narrow mountain road, so plan to take your time and enjoy the view. You will be traveling along side the Kern River, stop if you like at one of the campgrounds by the river and dip your toes in the icy cold water, but don’t get to far out, remember this can be a dangerous river, even when the water level is low as it is this year. Also along river you will pass the Kernville Trout Fish Hatchery, which you can stop and tour if you like, it is free.
Continue on across the Johnsondale Bridge, the higher up the mountain you go, the bigger the trees get and the forest gets thicker too. Watch for birds and deer and lot’s of other wildlife critters. On my latest trip, I had to stop twice for deer crossing the road.
Eventually the road changes to M-50, continue on until you get to M-90 and follow the signs to the Trail of 100 Giants. There is easy parking across the street from the trail in the day park. The cost per car is $5 and it is on your honor to put the money in the box. You can also pick up a printed guide sheet that gives you more information as you walk along the trail.
This is a wonderful park with a self guided, interpretive trail that is completely paved with easy access for wheelchairs, and strollers, and there are benches along the way, so everyone can enjoy the trip. There are also campgrounds and picnic areas. To find out more about what is available in the park here is Giant Sequoia National Monument website: www.gsnma.org
As you walk along the trails, there are informational guides that help you learn about these amazing trees, some of them over 1500 years old. The largest trees in this grove are 220 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter. These trees have very shallow roots that spread up to 100 feet across to help support the height of these giants. Some of them have fallen in heavy winds and are laying along or across the trails. Many of them have burn marks from fires and they often grow together to form rings, almost like a fairy ring. I found it incredible to stand in the midst of 5 giants 3 of which were completely connected at the base.
So here is one more adventure that makes Ridgecrest the perfect place to live. We are so close to so many wonders of the world. Give yourself a break and get out and enjoy. Memories are made from summer days like these!