Sequoia & Kings Canyon Hiking Trails
These two parks are hiking paradises, particularly in the summer. There is a huge variety of hikes, ranging from short walks to sequoia trees or waterfalls to world class backcountry hikes of a week or more. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, is a popular, and difficult, backpacking hike. Below, we describe some of the shorter and more popular hikes in the park, focusing heavily on the sequoias. We hope to add some of the longer hikes in the future, but it would take a lifetime to see them all. Hiking distances given below are total, roundtrip distances unless otherwise stated. Difficulties are only a general guideline, for an adult in good condition, and do not take into account trail length.
(click map to open very large locator map of the hikes below)
Big Trees Trail
#1 - Giant Forest Museum parking area
This hike begins near the large Giant Forest Museum parking area, located off of Generals Highway
16.6 miles from the Ash Mountain Entrance. This is the easiest and most accessible of the sequoia grove hikes, being paved throughout. The trail provides plenty of close-up views of the big trees.
#2 - Sherman Tree parking area
This hike begins off of the Sherman Tree Trail. This short trail leads down from the new Sherman Tree parking area to the General Sherman Tree itself, and then on to the handicapped parking area and shuttle stop below. The Sherman Tree parking area is located on a side road off of Generals Highway
19.4 miles from the Ash Mountain Entrance. From above at the General Sherman parking area, the Sherman Tree Trail adds about a third of a mile to the hike, but its all downhill. The shuttle can be caught at the bottom to return to the parking area. The Congress Trail itself is a 2.0 loop and is probably the best trail in either park for sequoia viewing. It leads past an almost unimaginable number of the trees, including several named groups such as the House and Senate Groups, hence the name of the trail. If you plan to do one big tree hike, this is the one. A much longer extension of this hike is also available, named the Trail of the Sequoias, and is listed further down the page.
Crescent & Log Meadows
#3 - Crescent Meadow parking area
This hike begins from the Crescent Meadow parking area, located at the end of the Moro Rock side road off of Generals Highway
16.6 miles from the Ash Mountain Entrance. This loop hike encircles Crescent and Log Meadows, and passes some other notable features, including Tharp's log and the Cleveland Tree. Wildflowers bloom on this trail through much of the spring and summer season.
Grant Grove Loop
#4 - Grant Grove parking area
This hike begins from the Grant Grove parking area, at the end of a short side road off of the Kings Canyon Scenic Drive
3.3 miles from the Big Stump Entrance. This is an easy loop hike through an impressive sequoia grove, including the General Grant Tree, otherwise known as the Nation's Christmas Tree. It has also been declared a living National Shrine to Americans who have died in war. For those not visiting the Giant Forest area of Sequoia, this trail is the obvious choice for big tree viewing.
#5 - Moro Rock parking area
This hike begins from the Moro Rock parking area, located along the Moro Rock side road off of Generals Highway
16.6 miles from the Ash Mountain Entrance. This is a short but steep climb, much of it on stairs, to the top of Moro Rock. From there, a great panoramic vista unfolds of the Sierra Range.
Roaring River Falls
#6 - Roaring River Falls parking area
This hike begins from the Roaring River Falls parking area, located along the Kings Canyon Scenic Drive
35.5 miles from the Big Stump Entrance. This short and easy paved walk stretches the definition of the word hike, but the destination is spectacular enough to warrant it. Roaring River Falls is a powerful drop of water in all but the lowest water flows. In peak snowmelt, it is frightening.
#9 - Lodgepole Campground
This hike begins within the Lodgepole Campground. If you are not staying in the campground, there is a large day use parking area located near the trailhead. The trail climbs gently along the Marble Fork Kaweah River and through the forest, never getting steep. The trail gets rocky as it approaches the very tall Tokopah Falls. Golden marmots are a frequent site in the area, as are black bears.
Trail of the Sequoias
#7 - Sherman Tree parking area
See the Congress Trail description above for details on how to access the area. This trail is a long extension of the Congress Trail, and includes the relevant mileage from that hike in this one. This hike leads all the way to the Crescent Meadow area and back, providing a large number of good sequoia sightings (and a pretty good chance for bear sightings as well).
#8 - Zumwalt Meadow parking area
This hike begins from the Zumwalt Meadow parking area, located along the Kings Canyon Scenic Drive
37.1 miles from the Big Stump Entrance. This is an easy and beautiful walk along Zumwalt Meadow and the Roaring River. It is one of the more scenic easy walks in Kings Canyon.