Freeman Creek Grove and the George Bush Tree
Photo © U.S. Forest Service
The President George Bush Tree is located in the 1,700-acre Freeman Creek Sequoia Grove off of the Lloyd Meadow Road (Road 22S82), on the Western Divide Ranger District within the Giant Sequoia National Monument on the Sequoia National Forest.
This tree was named for President George H. W. Bush in response to the proclamation he signed to protect all of the sequoia groves throughout the Sierra. President Bush himself signed the proclamation at this site.
The stone plaque at the site reads: “THIS GIANT SEQUOIA TREE IS DESIGNATED THE GEORGE BUSH TREE IN CELEBRATION OF THE PRESIDENT’S ACTION AT THIS SITE ON JULY 14, 1992 TO MANAGE GIANT SEQUOIA IN PERPETUITY AS UNIQUE OBJECTS OF BEAUTY AND ANTIQUITY FOR THE BENEFIT AND INSPIRATION OF ALL PEOPLE.”
To reach the Freeman Creek Grove and the George Bush Tree, turn off of Road SM50 a half mile west of Johnsondale R-Ranch north onto Road 22S82, which is the Lloyd Meadow Road. Continue on Lloyd Meadow Road for about 19 miles. You will see the sign for the Bush Tree to the left. Take this dirt road (20S78) about a mile to the parking area. There is a signed loop trail from the parking area. The tree is encircled with a wooden fence and has an engraved stone marking the site.
An alternate way to reach the tree is via a longer hike from a higher elevation. From Springville, drive east about 24 miles up Highway 190 to the turnoff for 21S50 (The North Road) on the left, which is a tenth of a mile shy of Quaking Aspen Campground. Take the North Road 0.4 mile past a little meadow on the right. Watch for the sign and park at the Freeman Creek Trailhead. Follow the trail (33E20) about 3.2 miles to the George Bush Tree. You will drop from about 7,000 feet down to about 5,750 feet. This trail is suitable for hikers, horses, and mountain bikers. Mountain bikers must remain on the trail.
Along the trail, you will experience meadows, the Freeman Creek, Jeffrey pines, sugar pines, white fir, black oaks, dogwood, California hazelnut, and bracken fern. The young 1,000 year-old sequoias begin to appear as you move downward along the trail. This is the eastern-most grove of sequoias, which typically live on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada range. In this hot, dry eastern-side environment, there is obviously a substantial supply of subsurface water. You will find several campsites as you continue on if you may be backpacking in for a night. When the trail crosses a tributary, you will find the Bush Tree to the north and inland from the creek.
The Freeman Creek Grove is the largest unlogged grove outside of a national park. There are a couple trees with a diameter of 20 feet, more than 100 with 15-foot diameters, and over 800 with 10-foot diameters. There are estimated to be over 2,000 sequoias with a diameter of over 5 feet in the grove. The largest tree in the grove measures 255 feet high with a diameter of 23 feet. It is listed as the 29th largest Sequoia tree in existence. It is about a half-mile south of Freeman Creek and 1 mile west of the road.
The grove is accessible along the Lloyd Meadow Road from June to October, depending on weather. Visitors could snowshoe or cross country ski into the area from Quaking Aspen Campground during the winter months when most roads are closed due to snow.
Pets are permitted on a six-foot leash.