Measured by volume, the General Sherman is the largest tree in the world. Its most recent measurement, at the time of publication, placed it at 275 feet tall, and over 36 feet in diameter at the base. Its circumference – the circular measurement around the base of its trunk – is over 102 feet. Its largest branch, with a diameter of almost 7 feet, is larger than most trees in the U.S. east of the Mississippi. The General Sherman was given its name in 1879 by naturalist James Wolverton, who had served under the real General Sherman during the Civil War.
It’s Old, But Not That Old
Despite its stupendous size, the General Sherman Tree is by no means the oldest known giant sequoia. Although its age can only be estimated, most estimates place it somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 years old. It’s no spring chicken by any stretch of the imagination, but by sequoia standards the General Sherman is middle-aged at best. Some sequoias have lived well over 3,000 years, and the naturalist John Muir once reported finding a sequoia tree stump with 4,000 years’ worth of annual rings.
It’s Easily Accessible
Anyone can see the Sherman Tree. It’s located at the north end of an area known as the Giant Forest within Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Two hiking trails lead to the tree, the most direct route being a 0.5-mile hike from the parking area on Wolverton Road. The roads and trails within the national park are well marked, and maps are available at the park visitor centers, as well as online through the National Park Service website. The tree is also accessible along the park’s shuttle route. Many mistakenly believe the General Sherman Tree to be the giant sequoia with a tunnel in it that you can drive a car through; that tree was located in Yosemite National Park until it fell during high winds in 1969.