What? : When visiting
Kings Canyon National Park you will have the opportunity to see the dramatic
landscape of the Sierra high mountain peaks, the deep King river canyon, several
waterfalls, cavern, and the world's second largest tree, General Grant Sequoia
Where? : Kings Canyon
National Park is located in the heart of California central Sierra mountains, adjusted
to Sequoia National Park. Driving 60 miles east of Fresno on highway 180 will
bring you to the park entrance, additional 35 miles of scenic drive on highway
180 east (dead end drive) will take you from the high mountains at the park
entrance to the deep canyon of the King River.
Due note 1: Highway 180
road in Kings Canyon is closed during winter month when deep snow covers the
road, usually between Jan to March.
Due note 2: Along the main
park road (highway 180) there are many viewing point turnouts, be ready to stop
and enjoy the view from a safe place.
Due note 3: At summertime it
is usually hot so when you plan your hikes take this into consideration.
My thoughts: If you are
visiting this area to see the giant Sequoia than taking the short and easy General
Grant Tree Trail at King Canyon Park entrance is your best option. From here
you will probably keep driving and visit the nearby Sequoia National Park and the
General Sherman Tree (largest tree by volume on earth).
You can extend
your visit at the park by taking the scenic highway 180 road and enjoying the several
attractions or hikes along the deep Kings Canyon River gorge.
For the one
that are doing long multi-days hikes the park is a home of many long hikes, Rae
Lakes loop considered to be one of the best hikes in the Sierra mountains.
How should you plan your visit?
Most people do
not spend the time to really visit and explore Kings Canyon Park but rather visit
the Grant Sequoia Grove section (General Grant Tree Trail) near the park
entrance, from there most visitors keep driving to the nearby Sequoia National
If you want to
explore this park plan to spend a day taking highway 180 that will take you
into the park kings river canyon. There are several attractions near the road including
waterfalls and hikes. Highway 180 is a dead-end road, in order to drive out of
the park you must go back on the same road you went into the park.
Park and wilderness around it offer endless multi day hiking options that will
take you deep into the high Sierra. This includes one of the top recommended
hikes in California: the amazing 3-4 days Rae Lakes loop. This is 42 miles
hike, I did this hike few years back, still need to write the blog on this trip.
There are many
National Park campsites in Kings Canyon and the nearby Sequoia Park but at
summer weekends and last-minute trip planning they may be full.
We manage to
find last minute campsite at Kings Canyon RV Resort:
There are few lodges
and cabins at the parks and near Hume Lake.
General Grant Tree Trail:
Like the Sequoia
National Park, Kings Canyon is known for its massive Sequoia Tree Groves. Take
the General Grant Tree Trail to see the second largest tree on earth, by volume
of wood, General Grant Tree.
parking lot is located near King canyon park entrance, as you drive into this park
section you can see the huge Sequoia trees right at the parking lot. The short
1/3-mile paved loop trail will lead you to the 1700 years old General Grant
Tree. The General Grant Tree was named after Ulysses S. Grant, Union Army
General, and the 18th. President of the United States. Later, in 1926, it was
named the Nation’s Christmas Tree by President Calvin Coolidge.
This is the
world’s 2nd largest tree by volume of wood, the tree is huge. It is so big that
it is difficult to take a picture of the entire tree.
There are many
others huge Sequoia trees at this groves. Another trail attraction is a dead and
hollow Sequoia tree trunk lying on the ground that you can walked through!
Driving down on road 180 to King
Grant section and Cedar Grove highway 180 pass through Sequoia National Forest,
this land is not part of the national park. You can find few more attractions in
this large forest land and few privately owned locations.
Along the winding
road going down into the canyon there are many viewpoints overlooking Kings
Canyon mountains and the deep King River canyon below.
In 2015 this
section of the national forest was completely burned in a fire; The forest did
not recover yet.
Located in the
Sequoia National Forest section near the Kinks River.
operated cave offers visitors a relatively easy way to explore the cave and to see
stalagmites, stalactites, and other cave formations. This is 50-minute guided walking
tour that will take you from the small shop at the parking lot into the cave.
You can make an
online reservation for a specific tour hour, or you can stop by and check for
Grizzly Fall is
located along road 180 in the canyon section. This waterfall is located just
few hundred feet away from the road. This area has few picnic tables so you can
plan a short break in your drive and eat lunch.
When we visit
the falls (June 2021) the waterfall was running but not so strong and it was
not so much impressive.
Roaring River Falls:
Still in the National
Forest section of the road you can find Roaring River Falls. This waterfall
rips through a granite chute. A short, shaded paved path will take you to a
powerful 40-foot waterfall. This is a small waterfall but with relatively
strong water flow, walk to the end of the trail and enjoy the waterfall view.
The pool at the
foot of the waterfall is usually deep enough for swimming though the water current
may be fast, and it will be dangerous to swim.
Parking is available
on the main road.
meadow, located inside the Kings canyon, with high granite walls on both sides.
This trail considered to be one of the best short hikes in Kings Canyon
National Park. At just 1.5 miles, this trail offers visitors views of the
canyon, meadows, wildflowers, a rushing river, Giant Sequoia trees and more.
is located along highway 180, one mile before road end. From the parking lot
there is an easy trail that will cross the river and will lead you to the meadows.
Mist Falls hike
is around 8 miles out and back trail located at the heart of Kings canyon park,
Trailhead is located at the end of road 180 in the Cedar Grove area.
This trailhead is
also the starting point for many backcountry adventurers so it can be busy.
The trail to
Mist Falls is one of the most popular in Kings Canyon, the hike to the falls may
considered to be long but not so difficult because most of it runs along the south
fork of the Kings River. Start your hike on Kanawyer Loop Trail and after 2
miles from the starting point, you will turn left into Paradise valley trail
(if you turn right and reach the bridge you need to go back to the trail
junction). The first 2.5 miles of the hike are relatively flat, from here the
trail begins to climb along the river cascades.
As you near the
end, you’ll start to hike up the incline to Mist Falls. Overall, it’s not very
difficult hike as it’s fairly gradual with a few flat sections.
On the way up,
there are clearance sections that provides a viewpoint to the amazing mountains
across the valley below. The mountain is known as the Sphinx formation, with
some imagination you can make up a shape of a sphinx or cat-like formation on
the peak of the center mountain.
2 miles from
the trail junction up the river gorge, around 4 miles from the starting point, you
will reach Mist falls.
At this point
the river rushes down a steep, smooth granite slope and create a nice 100 ft waterfall.
and enjoying the waterfall you will hike back to your starting point, overall,
this is 4-5 hours hike.
Additional things to do:
* Kings Canyon
Panoramic Point – a panoramic viewpoint overlooking Kings Canyon high Sierra
* Hume Lake – Large
lake that offer a lot of accommodation and summer recreation activities options.
* Chicago Stump
– The Chicago Stump Trail is a short hike to the remaining of General Noble
Tree.In 1897, the tree was cut down and
shipped in pieces to the World's Fair in Chicago.
* Buck Rock
Lookout – Buck Rock Lookout sits perched atop a granite dome and offers a breathtaking
view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.Access to the top is via a series of stair flights (consisting of 172
steps) suspended from the side of the rock.