The Boole Tree is the largest tree in any National Forest. It is, of course, a Giant Sequoia Tree that grows on the edge of Kings Canyon in the Converse Basin Grove of Sequoia National Forest. It is the 6th largest tree in the world and has the greatest ground perimeter of any giant sequoia (113 feet). To get to the tree take Hwy 180 and go past Grant Grove about 5 miles. Turn left on Forest Service Road 13S55 and travel 2.5 miles to the Boole Tree Trailhead. It is a 1 mile hike to the Boole Tree and you can come back the way you came or do an alternate 1.5 mile trail to loop back. The trail is moderately strenuous and climbs about 500 feet to a ridgeline where the tree grows.
I have Wendell Flint's excellent book, "To Find the Biggest Tree" and his photo of the Boole Tree inspired me to go find it. Well, since his photo was taken, the other trees in the area have grown significantly, so you no longer get the beautiful view of Kings Canyon. But the tree is still a sight to see! Todd and I hiked out to it on Saturday and it is one of the gnarliest sequoias I have ever seen. It has several huge branches that look as thought they've lost their bark and are nearly white. It has two huge fire scars, one on the front extending a good third of the way up the tree. The one on the backside of the tree goes into the tree a few feet and there is a thin strip of bark that was somehow spared and it appears to be like a thin flying buttress, though I'm sure it is providing no support for the massive trunk.
The Boole Tree was named around 1895 for Frank Boole, the supervisor for the logging operation that removed most of the neighboring giant sequoias. Why the Boole Tree was spared is a mystery, but it is a sad testament to the logging that took place in Converse Basin. Converse Basin is the largest Giant Sequoia Grove but was mostly cut over during the turn of the century by private logging companies. Thousands of old-growth giant trees were cut and only a few were spared, including the Boole Tree. John Muir visited this grove when it was being logged and saw the devastation first-hand. Ironically, its devastation really lighted a fire in Muir and other conservationists of the time and led to the preservation of other nearby groves. Also ironic, for all their hard work, the logging companies never made money logging the giant sequoias. Unlike their easier to access cousins, the coastal redwoods, giant sequoias grow at higher elevations in some amazingly rugged and mountainous country. Their location is probably what saved them in the end.
Today when you visit Converse Basin you'll see a lot of huge stumps and a huge amount of new growth. There are young giant sequoias everywhere, and they are thriving! The area is now preserved as part of Giant Sequoia National Monument and eventually this grove will come back in all its splendor. In a thousand or two thousand years I have little doubt that it'll look again like it looked before the loggers came.
In the fall the bracken fern turn all shades of gold and rust and the trail to the Boole Tree is lined with them
Small cedar and fir trees along the trail
At the base of the Boole Tree, it is 25.4 feet across at breast height (4.5 feet above ground)
The Boole Tree is 268.8 feet tall
A thin piece of bark that somehow wasn't burned and extends out far enough from the tree that you can walk behind it. The only other tree I've seen with a buttress like this is the Ishi Giant
Stump Meadow in Converse Basin
Despite all the stumps reminding you of the logging that took place, this forest is thriving
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com