The Sentinel Tree



Season: May thought November
Distance: 100 yards, round trip
Elevation: 7,200 feet
Difficulty: Easy – 30 minutes
Drinking water: None – bring your own


This really isn’t a hike at all – It’s more of a stroll. Anyway, have you ever seen that tree on the “Great Western Divide” while driving up to the top? I mean the one which can be seen standing prominently above all others. It is quite prominent to the southeast when viewed from the dump or from the Cedar Slope Inn. Those other trees on the ridge are your usual run of pines and firs. The Sentinel tree stands out because it is so tall. It’s not particularly old, but it really is magnificent – and your can drive to it!


From the Great Western Divide Highway turn west about 1/2 mile south of Quaking Aspen Campground on the dirt road which goes to Quaker Meadows. The Friends Church operates a summer camp for disadvantaged inner-city youths at the meadows. They have a special-use permit from the Forest Service for their philanthropic efforts. If it is a nice summer day, you’ll be able to hear the joyous shouts and squeals emanating from their large swimming pool. Please be a thoughtful and considerate guest.


As you approach the camp, nearly a mile in, you will come to a small softball backstop. Park you car near the ball diamond and stroll off to the right and back a little bit. You are now at the very tip-top of the Wheel Meadow Grove, which extends all the way down-river, past Cedar Slope and abuts the McIntyre Grove at Camp Nelson. Admire the Sentinel Tree and sit a spell on one of the benches placed there by the Friends.


If you feel particularly energetic, follow the signs down to the King David’s Tree which is about a quarter-mile down-slope on a switch-back, steep trail. King David’s tree is the second huge specimen you come to and the trail stops just beyond it. It is bisected at the base by fire and it measures 25 feet in diameter inside the bark. On the way back, be sure to study the “leaner” along the way. How can it possible withstand many more snowfalls without crashing down.