The Boole Tree is a giant sequoia in Converse Basin grove in Sequoia National Forest, in the edge of Kings Canyon, 5 miles (8 km) from Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada in eastern California. Converse Basin used to be a large grove, but was logged of most of its giant sequoias between 1892 and 1918. In its greatly modified environment, with few serious competitors, the Boole Tree is probably growing faster than before the logging. Ironically, it may well escape future serious fires because of the greatly reduced fuel in its vicinity, and it will perhaps continue to grow uninterruptedly for many centuries. Still, this preservation of one tree hardly compensates for the destruction of its more easily merchantable compatriots. Now only perhaps 60 large specimens survive out of thousands. This grove is the largest contiguous grove in the world. The tree was named around 1895 by A.H. Sweeny, a Fresno doctor, after Franklin A. Boole, a supervisor of the logging operation who spared the tree’s life due to its great size. Before 1931, it was thought to be the largest tree in the world, but it’s now known as the sixth largest tree and the largest tree within the U.S. Forest Service.
Its size was undoubtedly its salvation. Because of the tree’s great bulk and rocky habitat, it is unlikely that enough wood could be salvaged to make it worth the felling. – National Park Service in The Giant Sequoia of the Sierra Nevada.
Family Friendly Hike
Not only is this hike for the great burly mountain explorers of yesterday and today, but our kids love this hike. My wife carried our little one on her back, and the rest of our young crew did well, although it is a moderate hike at 2.5 miles with elevation gain on switchbacks. Along the way look for elderberries in the late summer, but watch out for the branches and leaves as they’re toxic. The path was great, and you’ll love the beautiful views to the of the entrance to Kings Canyon. Don’t forget to stop at the historical “Muir Snag” on the way, and use the bathroom at the trailhead before you start out. Princess Campground is nearby as well as the campgrounds at Hume Lake. Grant Grove is also nearby as well as the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. Bring your camera, water, and pack some snacks or a picnic lunch.
Season: June-November, weather permitting
Distance: 2.5 mile loop
Elevation: 6500 feet
Difficulty (hiking): Moderate. 1.5 hours. Carry water. Outstanding views of Kings River gorge.
Facilities: Restroom at Boole Tree trailhead
Grove size: 4,666 acres to explore (GPS NAD 83: 36.799,-118.968)
Protecting the Boole Tree
As the Rough Fire swept through the region in 2015, John Walker from the Fresno Bee captured this great footage of the Boole Tree as it was protected by a portable water source and a dozen sprinklers manually operated by brave firefighters. Thanks to their great work, the Boole stands strong to this day.
The diameter 4.5 ft (1.4 m) above highest point on ground is 25.4 ft or 7.7 m
The estimated bole (trunk) volume is 42,509 cu ft or 1,204 m3
Boole Tree Trail is a moderate 2.5 mile loop to the Boole Tree. There are restroom facilities at the trailhead, but no drinkable water. Boole, the largest giant sequoia on National Forest system land, is the 8th largest of all known sequoias. This trail offers spectacular views of the Kings River gorge and spectacular high Sierra Nevada mountain vistas. As you travel along the trail, you’ll come across remains of sequoias left where they fell in the historic logging days. The Loop will take a couple of hours since you’ll be staring up in the air looking at some incredible views. Since it is a loop, you can go either direction you wish. The first part of the trail will wind through at least 40 Giant Sequoia stumps that will boggle your mind with their size. Passing these, you’ll head up to a plateau where you can look down upon valleys in the canyon with Spanish Mountain in the distance. Regardless of which way you go, you’ll eventually come upon Boole Tree.
Boole Tree is big, but not as big as many of the stumps you’ll see. Boole Tree stands roughly 275 feet high with a perimeter of some 35 feet. It is estimated to be over 2,000 years old and is one of the biggest living trees in the world located in the northeast corner of the grove and is the last of the huge giant sequoias that had grown until the 1890’s in Converse Basin. It is the largest tree in the National Forests and is recognized as one of the largest trees in the world. It stand 269 feet tall and has a diameter of 35 feet.
The Boole Tree lies in the Converse Basin Grove which is about 3,700 acres with sequoias concentrated in the basin formed by Converse Creek.
In the late 1800s, the Converse Basin Grove was under private ownership, and was cut extensively during our country’s historic logging period. Several groups of sequoias escaped the 1880s logging. Much of the grove was cut down, denuded and the land was later sold to the U.S. Forest Service. Today, the grove has recovered and it is breathtaking!
The NPS provides the Boole Tree Location at (GPS NAD 83: 36.823889, -118.949167)
It is fairly easy to get to by car, but the main access is a dirt road. It is best to visit in the summer when the road is dry or in the winter by cross-country skis, or snowmobile.
The Muir Snag
Conservationist John Muir noted the largest Sequoia he ever found was in the this area in Converse Basin, and the tree is now popularly called the “Muir Snag.” Muir says the tree was in its prime when Jesus walked the earth.
Your visit to the area won’t be complete without two more stops in Converse Basin. On your drive to the Boole Tree Trail, stop at the Muir Snag, believed to be the oldest known giant sequoia. The tree, now dead, was discovered by John Muir and is estimated to be more than 3,000 years old. – John McKinney, L.A. Times
John Muir visited this giant sequoia snag and counted tree rings visible in a large fire scar at the base, extending past the center of the tree. He counted slightly over 4,000 rings. Subsequent counts have been somewhat less, but well over 3,200 years.
Although Muir’s most popular comment regarding the Muir snag is quoted below, Muir mentions two possible comments about the snag in his Sequoia Notes Journal, labeled from 1873-1877. A transcription on page 6 reveals that Muir heard from a shingle maker, Mr. Coli who said there was a 40ft diameter old barskin stump 1 1/2 miles north of Grant Grove Grove. By my calculations this would be just south than the snag location, but Muir noted that “another man told of an old snag bigger’n Grant.”
Here is John Muir’s encounter with his largest Sequoia, the Muir Snag. Locals say you can still see Muir’s ax marks on the stump today.
The very largest [Sequoia] that I have yet met in the course of my explorations is a majestic old fire-scarred monument in the Kings River forest. It is thirty-five feet and eight inches in diameter inside the bark, four feet above the ground. It is burned half through, and I spent a day in clearing away the charred surface with a sharp ax and counting the annual wood-rings with the aid of a pocket lens. I succeeded in laying bare a section all the way from the outside to the heart and counted a little over four thousand rings, showing that this tree was in its prime about twenty-seven feet in diameter at the beginning of the Christian era. No other tree in the world, as far as I know, has looked down on so many centuries as the sequoia or opens so many impressive and suggestive views into history. – John Muir in Yosemite, Chapter 7, The Big Trees.
Toward Hume Lake
Princess Campground (GPS NAD 83: 36.80278, -118.93694)
Hume Lake Campground
Ten Mile Campground
Toward Grant Grove
Crystal Springs Campground
There are quite of few areas to get out and explore. There are also a few dispersed camping areas which people are welcome to use, please check with the Hume Lake Ranger District office. Also visit the Kings Canyon Visitor Center in Grant Grove. Three prominent developed recreation sites lie within Converse Basin Grove; the Boole Tree Trail, and Chicago Stump Trail, and Stump Meadow. In the summer Hume Lake features educational programs for youth, boating, fishing, hiking, and a general store. The entrance to King’s Canyon National Park is up the road where you’ll enjoy some of the the greatest hikes and vistas in the world.
How to Get There
The Boole Tree and hike is located in the Sequoia National Forest that you access by entrance into the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. You can reach Converse Basin Grove from State Highway 180 or General’s Highway (State Highway 198). Take Highway 180 about 5 miles north of Grant Grove village to the Converse Turnoff (Forest Road 13S55). There is a sign at this point saying Converse Basin Grove, Stump Meadow and Boole Tree Trail. Take Forest Road 13S55 about 0.5 mile into Converse Basin Grove. If you want to go to Stump Meadow, continue on Forest Road 13S55 past an intersection until you arrive at the meadow. You can continue on this route to Boole Tree Trail, which is at the end of Forest Road 13S55.
NPS author and Yale Professor, Ellsworth Huntington in his Sequoia tree ring research work referred to the Boole Tree with the spelling “Boule.”
National Park and Forest Service
John Muir’s Journal of Sequoia Notes. 1873-1877. John Muir Papers, Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. © 1984 Muir-Hanna Trust
“The Secret of the Big Trees” Harper’s Monthly Magazine VOL. CXXV.-No. 746.-37 (1912) Pages 292-302.
Yale University Library
Boole Tree at Hume CA by Traver, J. H.
A negative glass-plate photo: From a glass plate negative made by William Borba. Two man standing about 15 feet up the trunk of a huge Redwood tree. The photo is identified as “Boole Tree. Hume, Cal. Photo by J. H. Traver.” The surrounding area has been logged and standing trees in distance.
Photo by H. Stagner, courtesy National Park Service.