Converse Basin Grove

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Tragically, Converse Basin once contained the world’s largest grove of mature sequoias, but it’s now an unsettling cemetery for tree stumps. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the entire privately owned grove was felled by lumber companies. A financial boondoggle, in part because of high transportation costs, the trees ravaged in this grove were not even suitable for lumber and many shattered when they hit the ground. Most of the salvageable wood ended up as fence posts and matches.

The only survivor is a colossus called the Boole Tree. The sixth-largest known giant sequoia, it’s ironically named for the lumber mill’s foreman, and for reasons unknown it was allowed to live. A 2.5-mile loop hike reaches it from the dirt access road to the trailhead; bring plenty of water and insect repellant. On the way in, stop at Stump Meadow to see the oversized remains of 19th-century logging.

Off another dirt road further south, the 20ft-high Chicago Stump is all that’s left of the once-mighty 3200-year-old General Noble tree. The 285ft giant was cut into sections and transported to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to demonstrate the unbelievable scale of the newly discovered giant sequoias. Dubious viewers soon nicknamed it the ‘California hoax’!

The road to Boole Tree is unpaved and the turnoff sign is hard to spot. The turnoff for the Boole Tree road is along Hwy 180, on a dirt road that is often rough and slippery. The sandy conditions may require a 4WD. Alternatively, park at the turnout and hike around 2.5 miles in.

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