Exploring Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park: A 3-Day Adventure

Exploring Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park: A 3-Day Adventure

Nicole Dulaney

Nestled in the heart of California in the Sierra Nevadas, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. These neighboring parks offer an awe-inspiring blend of towering trees, majestic waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas. Join us on a three-day adventure as we explore the natural wonders and iconic landmarks these parks have to offer.

Please note, these parks are in bear country. While Black Bears usually aren't as aggressive as Brown Bears precautions should still be taken, please store all items with a scent (food and hygiene) in the provided lockers, or in your hotel room. Bear spray is prohibited in these parks. Remember to respect all wildlife, watch them from a safe distance and don't ever feed wild animals.
Because of the wildlife in these parks, they are not very dog friendly. Dogs are allowed on leash at picnic areas, parking lots, campgrounds, and paved roads. Dogs are not allowed on trails. 

Day 1: Discovering the Hidden Gem of Tokapah Falls
Start your journey with a hike to Tokapah Falls, a hidden gem tucked away in Sequoia National Park. Tokopah Falls is a 1,200-foot cascading waterfall formed as the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River slides down a huge granite headwall of the glacial Tokopah Valley. This 3.8 mile back-and-out trail takes you through lush forests, alongside a glistening (or roaring, depending on the season) river, and eventually rewards you with the sight of the magnificent Tokapah Falls. Feel the mist on your face as the cascading water plunges down the granite cliffs, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. This trail is relatively easy with no major elevation gains, and the majority of the trail is forested until you reach the end and it becomes rocky. We recently completed this trail and due to the snowpack of Winter 2022 the river and falls are roaring so if you are headed out this way this trail is a must see!

Day 2: Walking Among the Giants
At Kings Canyon National Park head up to the Grant Grove trail. Marvel at the sheer size and grandeur of the General Grant, known as the Nation's Christmas Tree. The General Grant Tree is the second-largest tree in the world, standing 267 feet tall, and nearly 29 feet wide at the base. The Grove trail is a 1/3-mile paved loop trail that leads to the tree, and includes other named trees and features, including the Gamlin Cabin, the Fallen Monarch, and the Centennial Stump. Take a stroll through the grove, surrounded by towering trees that have stood for centuries, providing a humbling sense of perspective. If you want to explore further the Sunset and Dead Giant loops explore the outer edges of the grove, along with meadows and a small waterfall. To the south, Redwood Mountain Grove in Redwood Canyon offers longer trails for dayhikers or backpackers through the largest unlogged sequoia grove in the world.

Next, venture into Sequoia National Park to witness the awe-inspiring General Sherman Tree, the largest living tree on Earth. The General Sherman Tree stands at 275 feet tall, and is over 36 feet in diameter at the base. Stand in awe as you gaze up at its towering presence, and appreciate the remarkable beauty and resilience of nature. This tree is located in an area referred to as the Giant Forest, there are many, many trails around this forest and so you can either walk the short loop around the General Sherman or get lost in the Sequoia Grove. This area is especially nice place to take a picnic. Parking is limited in this area, and we suggest taking advantage of the parks free shuttle system.

Day 3: Immersing in the Natural Splendor at Crescent Meadow
Crescent Meadow is a tranquil and picturesque spot often referred to as "The Gem of the Sierra." Meander through the lush meadows, surrounded by wildflowers and towering sequoias. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and immerse yourself in the peaceful serenity of this hidden paradise. There are also many trails around this area, so you could hike 1.5 mile loop around the meadow or spend some more time. There are a lot of animals to be seen in the meadow, and if you're lucky you could catch a glimpse of a bear sunbathing.

Conclude your journey by conquering Moro Rock, a granite dome offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Ascend over 350 steps carved into the rock face, and be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. Take in the beauty of the sprawling valleys, majestic peaks, and the vast expanse of nature below.

Both of these stops are along the Moro Rock Rd, which when we visited were open only to shuttle access, so allow time for transportation.

There is plenty more to do in these parks, take a swim at Hume Lake, go whitewater rafting down the Kaweah River, and many spots to pullover for panoramic views of the Sierra Nevadas. As with any national park trip, check the respective NPS site before heading out. They will inform you of any closed roads or trails. As of July 2023, most of Kings Canyon is still closed from the winter storm damage, and the General's Highway in Sequoia finally fully opened.

A visit to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks is a transformative experience, immersing you in the natural wonders of the Sierra Nevada. From the thundering Tokapah Falls to the towering giants of the forest, and the serene beauty of Crescent Meadow to the breathtaking vistas from Moro Rock, each day brings new adventures and unforgettable memories. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a casual nature enthusiast, this three-day itinerary offers a glimpse into the majesty of these national parks and leaves you craving for more. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and embark on an extraordinary journey through these captivating destinations.

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