The Largest Trees In California

Published: September 4, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Sara Edwards
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Trees are very interesting organisms. Did you know that they keep growing until the day they die? They stop adding height, but they continue to add girth and have new branches grow. When you’re in the presence of a huge tree, you almost feel a sense of majesty.

California is a state known for extremely tall trees, with its forests of giant sequoias and redwoods. But there are a few trees that stand out among the rest. These trees, while extremely tall, aren’t necessarily the tallest trees in the world but the ones that have the highest amount of volume in their trunks. Of course, height is also a factor, though!

Read on to learn about the largest trees in California!

Hyperion

Hyperion Tree
At 381 feet tall, Hyperion is the tallest tree not only in California but in the world.

Stephen Moehle/Shutterstock.com

Volume (cubic feet)Height (feet)Width (feet)
18,78338115

Hyperion is only 700 or 800 years old, making it far from one of the oldest trees. However, it is the tallest, not only in California but also in the United States and in the entire world! This monumental tree has lived through many wildfires and may have been taken down by loggers if they decided to go a little bit further into the forest.

Hyperion is a coastal redwood that’s almost twice the height of the surrounding trees. Even though there are giant sequoias nearby, you can easily tell redwoods from these because they are taller and tend to grow closer to the coast.

You’ll need to do a little bit of legwork to see Hyperion in person because its location is unmarked. However, it is in Redwood National Park. If you do go see it, make sure to treat it with the respect it deserves.

Helios

Volume (cubic feet)Height (feet)Width (feet)
20,50037716

Helios is the second tallest tree in not only the Redwood National Park but also in California and the entire world. It’s also the sixth largest tree in Redwood National Park, with the largest measured crown in the park. Like Hyperion, the only tree that is taller, Helios is a coastal redwood.

If you go to the park, the rangers will tell you that it’s in the Helios Grove. However, you’ll have to do a little bit of work to actually find the tree since it’s not marked by any signage. Even if you make it to the location, there are tons of towering trees, and it might be a little difficult for you to figure out which one is Helios.

If you do happen to find Helios, try not to broadcast the location. It’ll help keep the tree safe from damage so that it can continue to grow and potentially break even more records.

Louis Agassiz

Louis Agassiz Tree
The Louis Agassiz tree is the largest tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

Pekon / CC BY-SA 4.0

Volume (cubic feet)Height (feet)Width (feet)
30,58026222

The Louis Agassiz tree is the largest tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. This tree is located in the South Grove of the park. Named to honor the Swiss-American biologist and geologist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, this tree is about 262 feet tall. Even though it’s not among the very tallest trees, its diameter makes it one of the largest in terms of volume. 

The Louis Agassiz tree is a giant sequoia, meaning its measurements are taken at six feet above the ground. Trees need to be measured a little bit above the ground because there is a huge increase in circumference in the area where the tree meets the ground.

Grizzly Giant

Grizzly Giant Tree
The Grizzly Giant is one of the most famous trees in California, along with being the second largest tree in Yosemite National Park.

Stephen Moehle/Shutterstock.com

Volume (cubic feet)Height (feet)Width (feet)
31,50120825.4

The Grizzly Giant is the second largest tree in Yosemite National Park, although it’s the most famous in the park. In 1990, its weight was estimated to be about two million pounds! This tree is a giant sequoia, and it is surrounded by other giant sequoias. If you want to see it, it’s in the upper part of the Mariposa Grove.

This tree is actually ranked as the 26th largest tree in the whole world. Even the branches of this tree are impressive, with the largest branch extending 95 feet from the tree and being more than six feet in diameter.

The Grizzly Giant is very likely the most photographed tree in Yosemite National park. In fact, there is a photo from 1903 of this tree with President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir posing at the bottom.

General Sherman

At 49,264 cubic feet in volume, the General Sherman is the largest tree not only in California but in the entire world.

zdenekkounovsky/Shutterstock.com

Volume (cubic feet)Height (feet)Width (feet)
49,26427427

The General Sherman is not only one of the tallest trees in California but the single largest living tree in the world in terms of volume. This tree is 276 feet tall, with a diameter of more than 36 feet and a volume of 52,500 cubic feet.

This tree is a 2,200-year-old giant sequoia and is located in Sequoia National Park. In fall 2021, park officials and firefighters had to wrap the trunk in layers of flame-resistant materials in order to save it from a fire that was burning through the park. This tree is a natural treasure, so they were right to do everything possible to preserve it!

If you want to see the General Sherman, just go to Sequoia National Park and take the trail (about 0.5 miles long) to the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove.

Where to Go to See California’s Largest Trees

As you can see, all of the trees on this list are either redwoods or giant sequoias. Even though these are some of the largest, there are plenty of both these types of trees in the state of California. The following are just a few of your options.

Redwood National and State Parks are famous for the clusters of redwood trees, just as the name implies. There’s also the Avenue of Giants, a 32-mile route where you can see coastal redwoods up close. This Avenue actually runs through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park as well.

You can also see redwoods, not to mention willows, conifers, and cottonwoods, at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, one of the most beautiful parks in California.

The Calaveras Big Tree State Park is a great place to see giant sequoias. There’s also Mariposa Grove, the oldest of the sequoia groves in Yosemite National Park and home to the Grizzly Giant.

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is located in California
iStock.com/Sara Edwards
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