Road trips from SoCal: Sierra Nevada
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( National Park Service )
General Grant Tree
Distance: 247 miles one-way
In a state that doesn't hold with tradition, the General Grant Tree stands tall. In 1925, Charles E. Lee of the tiny town of Sanger successfully petitioned President Coolidge to have the giant sequoia in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon designated "the nation's Christmas tree." Ever since, Sanger residents have led hundreds of people each year on a winter trek to the tree. It has no tinsel or lights, just the tree as it has stood for 2,000 years. In 1956, the tree notched another distinction as the nation's only living national shrine. Sanger passes down this California tradition to every third-grader in town who gets to "meet the great tree up close and personal" on their own special trek.
Info: The 82nd Trek to the Tree is Dec. 9. Drive to Grant Grove, or take a chartered bus from Sanger for $23 to $42.50 (some rides include meals); (559) 875-4575, www.sanger.org.
--Mary E. Forgione