National Parks are one of the friendliest vacations for seniors with limited mobility. Sequoia National Park has some of the best trails and walks for those traveling with mobility aids.
The three best trails in Sequoia National Park that are the most handicapable are General Grant Grove, The General Sherman Trail, and the Big Trees Trail.
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Vacations for Seniors with Limited Mobility
Many of the National Parks spend their funding towards making their grounds and most popular attractions accessible for disabled travelers with paved trails. Handicapable paved trails also make it easier for families with small children to explore the national parks.
Also, all parks, monuments, and historical sites recognized by the National Park Service allow disabled guests free entrance with the lifetime Access Pass. For those able-bodied guests over the age of 65, a small fee is added to the lifetime pass.
Another plus about making trails handicapable is that this easier, shorter hike is also family friendly and assists seniors with limited mobility.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Recently, my family visited and stayed in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and we found three of the best handi-accessible trails in the parks. Each of these trails was relatively easy to navigate, were paved, and the elevation was not significant.
The following guide will try to assist you in your travel plans to find the best walks and trails in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
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General Grant Grove
Almost immediately after driving through Big Stump Entrance, you can have the first accessible walk-in Sequoia national park. On this 1/3rd-mile trail, you get to see the Fallen Monarch and General Grant, the Nation’s Christmas tree.
When approaching the trail, you have two choices to start the loop, go left towards the cabin or right towards the Fallen Monarch.
The incline towards the cabin is quite steep, and the other guests with mobility issues got out of their chairs and pushed the chairs up in the slope. Seeing this, our family decided to go right and start our easy walk out slow, knowing that we would have a significant decline to navigate at the end of the trail.
The first stop that we saw was the Fallen Monarch. Visitors are allowed to walk through the fallen tree, taking photos and exploring the inside of the enormous tree.
When walking through the tree, make sure to watch your step because there is a lot of trip hazard within the tree and very dim lighting.
General Grant Tree Trail
In 1926, President Coolidge proclaimed that General Grant was America’s first Christmas tree. Each December on the Second Sunday, carolers participate in the Annual Trek to the tree and visitors enjoy the festive season.
General Grant, the third largest Sequoia, has a steep trail that goes around the tree, making it hard for those with mobility issues to climb. However, there is a large seating area and plenty of shade where you can admire the tree from the front.
Don’t worry if you cannot see the fire scar – you will be able to see General Sherman’s fire scar later in your trip.
The steep trail goes around all of General Grant to see it’s fire scar and you can hike to see some of the other sequoias. There is another fallen tree that you can crouch down inside of, but it is not as impressed as the Monarch Tree.
Plan to spend 1-2 hours on the trail with good weather permitting.
There are two ways to access the General Sherman trail, through an accessible route and through a steep half mile winding trail from Wolverton Road that will be easy to go down, but going up will be torturous!
Luckily, for us, we went during shoulder season, so the handicap parking was open (to the general public also), but handicap parking is open all year round if you have your temporary tag with you.
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General Sherman is the world’s largest tree by volume. Standing at a tall 275 feet tall, the top of General Sherman is dead, but he is still growing out wide.
You can make an entire loop around General Sherman seeing its fire scar and seeing the large limb that fell from him in a winter storm during 2006.
There is a lot to take in in this area of the park. Even though General Sherman is a large, and tall, tree, there are so many trees around that are just as magnificent.
In this forest, please be mindful of the boardwalk and fences preventing you from trampling on the Sequoia’s delicate root system and damaging the tree.
We did manage to walk uphill just before we hit some steps so that we could get a higher look at General Sherman. At this viewpoint, there is a diagram of General Sherman’s base.
Plan to spend 2 hours on the trail with good weather permitting.
Big Trees Trail
Our final trail in Sequoia National Park during our three-day trip to was the Big Trees Trail. We were able to park in the handicap parking right at the trailhead.
The Big Trees Trail was by far the most handicapable because there weren’t any stairs or incline to navigate. There are some areas where the asphalt turned to the boardwalk but was easy to manage.
The Big Trees Trail is a 2/3 mile loop and is the second largest Big Trees forest. General Sherman is technically within the Big Tree Forest.
This trail is fantastic because there is a small meadow that is at a slightly lower elevation than the Sequoias. All of the trees form a circle around the pasture because they cannot grow in that area.
There are a couple of fallen trees that you can explore and many more trees to be impressed by.
Before this meadow and forest were incorporated into the Sequoia National Park, there were some cabins in the area that were then pulverized once a Sequoia fell on them.
If I learned anything from this trip – is be wary of the large tree! Once it decides its time to come down, you do not want to be anywhere near it.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Even though these two parks are more known for their backcountry hiking, there are ways to enjoy the beauty of the giant Sequoias without extreme hiking.
I vote Sequoia and Kings Canyon and one of the best vacations for seniors with limited mobility. Grab your National Parks Pass today and start exploring.
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