Hospital Rock to Potwisha Trail is a 4.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sequoia National Park, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and trail running and is accessible from October until May.
This hike follows an ancient foothills trail that linked two Indian village sites. The trail parallels the Middle Fork Kaweah River from Hospital Rock to the Potwisha Campground. The path follows the north canyon wall on a shelf that hugs the hillside. Although very hot in the summer the Middle Fork Tail offers pleasant hiking the rest of the year. This short section of the trail offers fine views of the Middle Fork Kaweah River Canyon as well as periodic glimpses of Morro Rock and Castle Rocks. A fine cross section of foothill vegetation rewards hikers as they pass through zones of oak woodlands, chaparral and grasses. Late winter and early spring brings splashes of color from a pleasant array of windflowers.
Ive taken this trail a couple of times. the first was to backpack with friends about 10 years ago. we went 8 miles in, and then went down a trail the guys knew about to their campsite theyve been enjoying for 25 years or so. last summer, i took my daughter down it, to the first river crossing 3 miles....saw a bear, so didnt make it all the way to the water. The beginning of the trail was very hot, without much shade, but we enjoyed ourselves.
This was my first hike in Sequoia, and it was amazing. I took off from hospital rock to panther Creek which is a 3 mi hike. Starts off downhill, crossed morro creek, then the fun starts. Half of this walk has no shade but the other half has forest cover. You really get to see morro rock at just about every angle on this hike. A lot of uphill so I would say it's a moderate skill tail but once you get to panther Creek omg, the view of kaweah river is gorgeous from the rocks. No river access but panther Creek is deep enough to swim around a little and enjoy the scenery, though it is freezing cold. Walk back is mostly downhill or you can continue on the trail ahead. I would read the other review before hand because it talked about a tail to the river, next time I come back I'm going to look for that trail to the river and camp, there is room for a few tents and place for a campfire at panther creek. Strenuous but well worth it.
It was an interesting return to the past to follow the same trail the Potwisha (a subset of the Monache) Indians used to connect their camps. You travel on the North side of the Middle Fork Kaweah River Canyon, about 250 feet above the river. There is no river access from this trail except for a branch trail near Potwisha Campground. The trail is mostly sunny, and very hot open terrain, interrupted by folds of side streams. These folds provide a shady relief from the sun. Black oaks, grasses, and chaparral are the vegetation zones you cross through. You cross the Generals Highway about 1.75 from Hospital Rock. On the South side of the Generals Highway, the black oak tress become groves offering a shady stroll. This is where I found most of the wildflowers and deer seen on the trail. This is where the river access trail is located, but you can only go to the rocks overlooking the river not gain river access. This trail should not be made in the middle of summer because of the heat, but in the early spring when the wildflowers and grasses are green and in bloom. The trail below the Generals Highway is traveled much more because of it's proximity to Potwisha Campground and the hope of river access and a swimming hole. Even though the trail is very seldom traveled and somewhat overgrown, it needs to be traveled just to relive our past.