Nation’s Christmas Tree: Sequoia Ceremony

"Trek to the Tree" and join a venerable December event.

Trek to the Tree

SPIN ALL OF THE FANCIFUL TALES... you like about the various trees you hike by at Sequoia & Kings National Parks, for they definitely won't mind. Tell your son that a gnome lives in that knobbily tree in the distance, the one that kind looks like it could easily have a moat around its base. Tell your friend that the gorgeous tree you just strolled past is from outer space, or perhaps is the queen of the forest. And if a clutch of sequoias in the distance looks like a band of fairies frolicking to you, that's a fine yarn to dream up while on an invigorating walk in the outdoors. But some of the noble trees found around the national park have true and timeless tales to tell, and those tales have histories that appear in books and files and other important places of record. Look to the General Grant, one of the best-known icons of the area, a colossal, branch-laden titan which has filled a famous role since the middle part of the 1920s. That's when it received the title of...

"THE NATION'S CHRISTMAS TREE," and ceremony and sweetness has surrounded it ever since. There's a "Trek to the Tree" each December, when people gather to remember "the men and women of the Armed Forces who have fought and died for their country." Admission to the park is free on the day of the 2016  — Sunday, Dec. 11 — but do note that Grant Grove Restaurant is temporary closed "(d)ue to construction." It's oftentimes snowy, or at least the ground can be crunchy with flakes, so bundle up and find those ready-to-trek boots. It's a hallowed occasion, one with meaning and memory, and it is all attached to a single tree that holds a story that needs no embellishment. It's the General Grant, the National's Christmas Tree, and while the tree is ancient, it will mark the first century of its pomp-filled title in 2025.

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