To walk amongst giant trees, many would head over to Grant Grove or the Giant Forest in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
But another treasure trove is Redwood Mountain -- the world's largest grove of giant sequoias.
And, as always in the national parks, be bear aware.
In 1890, when Congress created what was then called Sequoia and General Grant national parks, nearby Redwood Mountain was left out. Fifty years passed before it received federal protection.
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And because of that, the mountain still receives few visitors. Hikers need to drive down a dirt road for two miles to reach the trailhead.
From the trailhead bulletin board, take the path marked Hart Tree, Redwood Canyon Trail and descend 0.3 miles to a junction. This loop can be hiked in either direction -- starting left saves most of the climbing for the end, going right takes you downstream before looping back up the mountain.
The giant sequoias are the star attraction, with their rich red-orange trunks contrasting against the lush forest floor.
But there are other luxuries on this stroll.
After the first creek crossing is Redwood Cabin, a hollowed-out fallen sequoia that still has a stone fireplace inside it from the 1930s.
Two miles down are wide granite openings that offer gorgeous views down Redwood Canyon. Look closely and numerous tiny meadows tucked in between the swarm of giant sequoias will stand out in bright green patches.
The hike also goes right through a giant sequoia -- the fallen tunnel tree -- a hollowed-out trunk hikers can walk through.
Midway through, take the spur trail leading to Hart Tree, the 24th largest giant sequoia in the world. Like many giant sequoias, Hart Tree's charred trunk is evidence of fires, both recent and ancient.
At mile 5 is Fallen Goliath. With a look of defeat, it makes you wonder how much history has gone by since this giant sequoia saw its glory days.
Go across Redwood Creek, using the rocks or the natural land bridge of a fallen sequoia's trunk, and turn right, hiking 1.5 miles to close the loop.
A recent visit included a black bear sighting in the area, so be aware and avoid the foraging beasts in their environment. There are bear lockers to store extra food at the trailhead -- never keep anything with a scent in your car.
HART TREE LOOP
• Where: Kings Canyon National Park
• Length: 7-mile loop
• Difficulty: Easy to moderate
• Fees: $20 park entrance fee (good for seven days)
• Trailhead: From Fresno, take Highway 180 to the Big Stump Entrance Station. Continue 1.5 miles and turn right on the General's Highway toward Sequoia National Park. Drive 3 miles to Quail Flat, directly across from the turnoff to Hume Lake, and turn right on the dirt road to Redwood Saddle (there is a brown road sign). Follow the dirt road 1.8 miles to the parking lot.
• Maps: General park maps are free at entrance station; USGS, General Grant Grove
• Info: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, (559) 565-3341 or www.nps.gov/seki