Skip to main content

Trail of Giants Tree Tour

About the tour
The Tour of Giants celebrates the many big trees in the Vanderbilt Arboretum. It includes some of the largest known individual trees on the Vanderbilt campus as well as the largest examples of many species. “Largest” is determined using the point system developed by the National Register of Big Trees. The tour also visits all of the living trees that are or were once on the Tennessee Champion Trees list.  Click here for facts and figures about big trees in the Vanderbilt Arboretum.

The Trail of Giants tour passes through much of the Vanderbilt main campus before crossing 21st Avenue to pass through part of the Peabody Campus.  Therefore, it could take several hours to complete the tour, depending on your speed.

How the tour works
The tour is designed to make use of portable devices. An iPad is optimal, although smart phones should also work well. Each tree has its own web page and is connected to the previous and next tree by buttons at the top of the page.  In addition to the text description of the tree’s location, there is a map at the bottom of the page showing where the tree is located relative to landmarks on the campus.

If your phone or iPad has GPS, you can use the “Find Me!”
button on the page to locate the tree.  When you click on the button, a drop pin will fall on the tree’s location on a map.  If you then click on the button to display your location on the map, you can see where you are relative to tree.  You should be able to zoom in and make your “blue dot” meet the drop pin as you walk towards the tree.  (Because the campus WiFi network covers many outdoor areas, you may be able to take parts of the tour without 3G. However, early version WiFi-only iPads do not have GPS capabilities.  The Find Me! button will bring up a map with drop pin, but will not show your location.)

Each tree also has a QR code that you can scan to load
the tree’s page into your phone.  If a tree on the tour has a physical label, there is a QR code sticker on the label as well. This is one way to know that you have located the right tree. It also allows anyone who discovers the QR code to load the tree’s web page into their portable device.


Where to park
Parking on the Vanderbilt Campus can be challenging because there are few designated visitor spaces. The  Visitor Parking page contains information about possible places to park, but for this tour it is recommended that you park in the Wesley Place parking garage because it is near the start of the tour and contains many pay-by-the-hour parking spaces that can be utilized by visitors. There is free parking on the north side of Scarritt Place opposite the garage, but it is for a limited time and is usually filled by mid-morning on weekdays. Do not park in reserved or zone parking without a permit. You will be ticketed and possibly towed.

Starting the tour
The tour starts at the west side of the 21st Avenue S. crosswalk on Scarritt Place. It ends across the street from the 1101 Building (former Disciples of Christ Historical Society building), which is just east of the Wesley Place garage. To shorten the tour, you can return to the starting point after reaching the large southern red oak in front of Godchaux Hall rather than continuing on to Peabody Campus. If you decide to complete the Peabody loop, you may wish to climb the front steps of MRB III so that you can cross 21st Avenue S. using the pedestrian bridge.

Back to list of tours