What are the Oldest and Tallest Trees in the World?

April 7th, 2020

river and sun icon Sierra South Mountain Sports Kern River California

Did you know the oldest and largest trees in the world are both in California and within short driving distance of Kernville?

The parks of California, both State and National, provide a truly unbelievable array of scenery, flora, fauna, and recreational opportunities. The anchor of the Flora in California has to be the wide array of unique and impressive trees found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Simply put, there is not a more impressive area for viewing trees that illustrate what nature is capable of producing. All of these trees are within a few hundred miles of each other. 

Bristlecone Pine Tree

To appreciate the Bristlecone Pine Tree you need some historical background. About 5,000 years worth of history. That is the current age of the oldest living organism on the planet, the Bristlecone Pine. This stunted, gnarled tree grows in such an extremely specific soil, climate, and elevation that no other vegetation can survive. Size is unimportant to this wisened tree. The tallest trees reach 50ft, but these are not the oldest. At closer inspection, the dense, twisting nature of the tree is unlike any other species. To be in the presence of a Bristlecone Pine Tree is to share time with something that has stood fast on a steep slope, at high elevation while the world around it has changed. It is a powerful experience indeed. A drive to Bristlecone Pine Forest in the Inyo National Forest outside of Big Pine on highway 395 is less than 200 miles from Kernville. 

Giant Sequoia Tree

Placing a hand on the soft bark and straining your neck upwards to the crown of a Giant Sequoia Tree is a remarkable natural experiences. The belt of Giant Sequoia Groves begins north of Kernville in Sequoia National Forest and continues 250 miles north. Never is this belt of distribution wider than 15 miles. Sequoias require an incredibly specific elevation and climate to thrive. There are currently 68 groves of Sequoia Trees in the Sierra Mountains, including Trail of 100 Giants, a mere hour drive north of Kernville, CA. Moving further north into Sequoia National Park will lead you to the famous General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. While the title of tallest tree in the world belongs to a Redwood cousin in Northern California, General Sherman is 102ft in circumference and has the most mass of any living orgasm on the planet. At 2,500 years old, General Sherman is still a millennium younger than the oldest Giant Sequoia. Giant Sequoias are heavily protected and provide us a window into what the Sierras would have looked like before the demand for trees felled so many of these giants. Similar to the Bristlecone pine, Sequoias have the ability to tell a history to those who pay attention. Their fire resistant nature is an important survival characteristic and every old Sequoia will cary the scars of forest fires that raged throughout the mountains.