The Big Stump Basin is located next to the Kings Canyon National Park main entrance on Highway 180 about two and a half miles southwest of the visitor center. The Big Stump trail is in this basin and starts near the rest room next to the parking lot (it took me a few minutes to find it). This easy two mile loop trail is relatively flat and takes about an hour to complete. The circular loop path passes a few surviving large sequoias, plus many fallen trunks and stumps.
This area was once home to a grove of massive and majestic Giant Sequoias but sadly, early loggers cut down most of the trees in this basin. In addition, early loggers cut down about one third of all the Giant Sequoias. Ironically the sequoia wood was brittle and broke across the grain when it fell, so it was useless as timber.
I went with my wife in mid-July and we really enjoyed the hike and the basin. The best part of the hike is looking at the stump of the Mark Twain tree. This massive tree was cut down in 1891 to display in the New York Museum of Natural History and the British Museum of Natural History in London. You can still see slices of it today. What a shame someone cut this magnificent old tree down. There are wooden steps that allow you to climb up and walk on the stump. You really get a feel for how big this tree was by walking on the stump. I also enjoyed looking at the Giant Sequoias that was partially cut down but the loggers gave up as it would have fallen in the wrong direction. The tree still lives over 100 years after giant cuts were made around the tree. The trail was not crowded and we did not see that many other people on the hike.
Overall I really enjoyed the hike and looking at the old and massive stumps. While visiting the stumps was not as interesting as visiting the live trees, it was still worth the visit and I recommend it. The stumps are a reminder of why the park was created – to protect the fantastic Giant Sequoia trees.
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