Hiking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
The best way to see the park is to hike it. The grandeur and majesty of the Sierra is best seen up close. Carry a hiking map—available at any visitor center—and plenty of water. Check with rangers for current trail conditions, and be aware of rapidly changing weather. As a rule of thumb, plan on trekking 1 "mph".
Big Trees Trail. This one's a must, as it does not take long to stroll and the setting is spectacular: beautiful Round Meadow surrounded by many mature sequoias, with well-thought-out interpretive signs along the path that explain the ecology on display. The 0.7-mile Big Trees Trail is wheelchair-accessible. Parking at the trailhead lot off Generals Highway is for cars with handicap placards only. The round-trip loop from the Giant Forest Museum is about a mile long. Easy. Trail begins off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), near the Giant Forest Museum, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Giant Forest.
Congress Trail. This 2-mile trail, arguably the best hike in the parks in terms of natural beauty, is a paved loop that begins near General Sherman Tree. You'll get close-up views of more big trees here than on any other Sequoia hike. Watch for the clusters known as the House and Senate. The President Tree, also on the trail, supplanted the General Grant Tree in 2012 as the world's second largest in volume (behind the General Sherman). An offshoot of the Congress Trail leads to Crescent Meadow, where in summer you can catch a free shuttle back to the Sherman parking lot. Easy. Trail begins off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), 2 miles north of Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Giant Forest.
Crescent Meadow Trails. A 1.8-mile trail loops around lush Crescent Meadow past Tharp's Log, a cabin built from a fire-hollowed sequoia. Brilliant wildflowers bloom here in midsummer. Easy. Trail begins at the end of Moro Rock–Crescent Meadow Rd., 2.6 miles east off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Moro Rock–Crescent Meadow.
Muir Grove Trail. You will attain solitude and possibly see a bear or two on this unheralded gem of a hike, a 4-mile round-trip from the Dorst Creek Campground. The remote grove is small but indescribably lovely, its soundtrack provided solely by nature. The trailhead is subtly marked. In summer, park in the amphitheater lot and walk down toward the group campsite area. Easy. Trail begins in Dorst Creek Campground, Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), 8 miles north of Lodgepole Visitor Center, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Lodgepole-Wuksachi-Dorst.
Little Baldy Trail. Climbing 700 vertical feet in 1.75 miles of switchbacking, this trail ends at a granite dome with a great view of the peaks of the Mineral King area and the Great Western Divide. The walk to the summit and back takes about four hours. Moderate. Trail begins at Little Baldy Saddle, Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), 9 mi north of General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Lodgepole-Wuksachi-Dorst.
Tokopah Falls Trail. This trail with a 500-foot elevation gain follows the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River for 1.75 miles one way and dead-ends below the impressive granite cliffs and cascading waterfall of Tokopah Canyon. The trail passes through a mixed-conifer forest. It takes 2½ to 4 hours to make the round-trip journey. Moderate. Trail begins off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), ¼ mile north of Lodgepole Campground, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Lodgepole-Wuksachi-Dorst.
Marble Falls Trail. The 3.7-mile trail to Marble Falls crosses through the rugged foothills before reaching the cascading water. Plan on three to four hours one way. Moderate. Trail begins off the dirt road across from the concrete ditch near site 17 at Potwisha Campground, off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262.
Mineral King Trails. Many trails to the high country begin at Mineral King. Two popular day hikes are Eagle Lake (6.8 miles round-trip) and Timber Gap. (4.4 miles round-trip) At the Mineral King Ranger Station (559/565–3768) you can pick up maps and check about conditions. Difficult. Trailheads at end of Mineral King Rd., 25 miles east of Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262.
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