Explore Kings Canyon - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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backpacking
1 month ago

I loved following the river canyon for so many miles! Very scenic and a must if you can manage long distances.

This is a great loop, especially for backpacking. We went in early december, these are a few notes for anyone else going in winter:
The forest road to the trailhead is a dirt road that isn't plowed, so unless you're very confident in snow you'll probably want to park at Quail Flats and hike approx 2 miles in to the trailhead. It's an easy walk in, but adds some climbing to the hike out. As of december 2018, the creek was flowing well - easy to filter water from it. The trail can be a little hard to follow in some places, and as you come up to the trailhead on the redwood creek side, the de facto trail strays a little way from the mapped trail, but you do eventually get there. There are a bunch of workable spots for camping near the creek. Lastly, the trail was slushy during the day, so waterproof boots are definitely a good idea.

backpacking
2 months ago

My 2 kids, 10yr old granddaughter and I went on this beautiful backpack trip Oct 19-21/2018. We had perfect weather 65 during the day, and hi 30's at night. Gravel road to parking lot was perfect, looked as though it had been recently redone.
Leaving the parking lot, we went on the left trail choosing to go down hill to where we would camp. It was about 2.5 miles to the bottom, and a beautiful hike. There is a stream about a mile down the trail, and it goes close to the trail the rest of the way to the bottom. Take note, there are very few places to set up camp.
We came back going left coming back the approx 4.5 mi back to the parking lot. There are no streams or water sources all the way back. We had a great time!!!! Beautiful hike, saw 4 deer, 2 coming into our camp site at about 8PM on our second night. LOVED IT ALL!!!!!!!

Love this area! I started the Sugar Bowl loop and then finished on the Hart Tree side for the longer 10 mile hike. I'm glad I went this direction but would like to try it in reverse sometime. Both sides offer excellent views and the hiking is not too difficult. I highly recommend doing this hike in the fall, the dogwood trees are stunning this time of year! The drive down to the trailhead is just a gravel road, you shouldn't have any trouble getting down there unless it's snowy. Totally worth your time to enjoy the giants on these trails!

We did this hike on 10/6/18. We hiked counterclockwise from the trailhead. It was overcast and cool when we started and we finished in the rain. The sun did come out occasionally to light up the sequoias and they’re the star of this hike. The sugar bowl itself is just unreal. Huge trees everywhere. It was surreal. There were a couple of sections of the trail that afforded views of big baldy and little baldy, which could be very nice but they were obscured by the clouds when we hiked it. Clouds or not, the magnificent trees are an experience unto themselves. After the sugarbowl, and you'll know you're in it because every tree you can see is a sequoia, it's a long downhill jog to the canyon floor, then a long uphill slog back to the trailhead. There aren't many sequoias on the downward section but they grow more numerous on the way up and out of the canyon. Outstanding hike.

We hiked this trail on a very cloudy day. This didn't give us the opportunity for many views, but it was very awesome to be in such dense fog the whole way. The hike is not difficult by any stretch, but has some sloping sections. We never did find the Fallen Goliath, but the other destinations on the loop were quite interesting. The road to the trailhead is not paved, but we did it with no problem in a Corolla. They are currently in the process of putting new gravel down, making the road even more manageable. Overall would recommend as a good hike near the Grant Grove area of the park.

backpacking
3 months ago

I started this loop from onion valley and did it counterclockwise. I believe it is a harder route starting from the eastern Sierra side, which added an extra 10 miles or so, but the hike up and over kearsarge pass is well worth the extra mileage.

It took 4 days at a relatively moderate pace to complete the loop. My last day was only a six mile day so it is definitely possible to do it in 3 days starting from onion valley.

Mosquitos weren’t too bad in late July though I’ve heard that they’re horrendous earlier in the season. Bugs other than mosquitos were a nuisance so I highly recommend a bug net around your head which I wore half the hike.

There are plenty of people on the trail with pct and jmt hikers making their way on the eastern parts of the loop.

Visually stunning.

Really gorgeous trail. I saw a few bear paw prints so I was whistling/singing throughout since I was alone. (I am overcoming my fear of bears, ok.) I saw only one other person while hiking, and the parking lot never even got to close to half full. Someone else mentioned to remember to look up when you’re in the canyon. Take that advice. The trail was easy to follow. I completed the trail in 2.5 hours and my iPhone recorded just under 7 miles.

on Rae Lakes Trail

hiking
3 months ago

We did this trip counter clockwise from Oct 5-12. We tacked on a few side trips including Kearsarge Lakes and 60 Lakes Basin. We had one snow storm the day before doing Glen Pass but we just delayed our ascent a few hours until the sun had melted the pass on the south side and then things were not that bad. It was spectacular. I would recommend spending at least one day at Rae Lakes, it is the jewel of the hike. Water was available along the entire trip except for the ascent up Glen Pass. I carried 1 liter of water on me the entire trip and it worked well for me. Bring warm clothes as several nights got down into the teens. We saw several bears but they all kept their distance from us and we had no negative encounters. Bugs were almost non-existant but we did see 4 different snake species including a rattlesnake the first day hiking in. This was definitely a worth while trip and I will do it again.

Wow, loved hiking this trail! It’s actually 5 miles round trip and a 1,200 foot elevation gain, but a moderately difficult hike indeed. It’s starts off at a moderate incline through the cedar tree meadows and then works its’ way up with several switchbacks to the stop. Several bugs on the first half mile or so through the meadows so bring bug spray! They start to thin out as you get higher up on the mountain. It’s about 35% shaded.

I went in early October and there was a nice breeze, so I stayed nice and cool. Lots of wildlife! I saw deer, lizards, marmots, and birds. A few spots of greenery at the top during the fall. The view at be top is amazing! You’ll see the mountains and all of the Cedar Groves! Going back down can be slippery due to the sand, so wear sturdy shoes and watch your step. Also a ton of fallen trees you’ll have to climb over. Otherwise, a gorgeous hike!

Awesome hike and the view is well worth the effort!!

Right off we see a large bear with a deer going the opposite direction. Some insects, easy short walk.

3 months ago

Stunning hike, hardly a dull moment anywhere on this trail. We did the loop clockwise in 4 days camping at Upper Paradise Valley, Middle Rae Lake and Junction Meadow. Would have spent an extra day at the Rae Lakes if we had the time. We went just after the permit season ended and the weather was perfect but did get cold at night. No crossings and very few bugs. Abundant access to water for most of the trail except the Glen pass area. Highly recommend.

backpacking
3 months ago

WARNING: this trail is NOT 37 miles. NPS has accurate mileage information: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/rae-lakes-loop.htm

backpacking
3 months ago

Did the loop from 9/26-9/29. Gnats were a pain from 5,000-7,000ft. Save yourself endless swatting and bring a head net.

Spectacular!! Spent 3 unusual days on the trail, starting at Roads End where we were told we couldn’t go clockwise around the loop. At that time, we felt like it wasn’t a big deal but it definitely changed the trip. After many conversations with other hikers we discovered Counter has a much steeper incline with several switchbacks on your 2 day journey to Glenn’s Pass, whereas Clockwise is still up hill the entire way, but the incline is more gradual. We hiked Day 1 from Roads End to Junction Meadow, around 10 miles steeply uphill and it kicked our butt pretty good. Saw a rattle snake on the trail which was pretty cool. Met a lot of really cool hikers of all backgrounds. It was a challenging hike with many rewards. Day 2 we had a shorter day as my partner was beginning to experience the effects of altitude and we made it to Charlotte Lake around 2 pm to camp for the night. I highly recommend this beautiful spot. Unfortunately throughout the night my partner’s symptoms worsened so we had to get up early and head the 17 miles back down to Roads End. I can say heading down this side of the trail was amazingly beautiful! All in all a great 3 days and because I wasn’t able to make the summit and swim in Rae Lake, it is a great motivation to head back next year for round 2.

backpacking
3 months ago

We did the loop in clockwise direction in 3 days and 3 nights. Would have been really tough the other direction. Wish we had spent longer at Rae Lakes, it's really a magical place. We went in September right after quota season ended. They now have self-issue permits. The climb was reasonable, good footing in terms of traction, so trekking poles are probably unnecessary, but it did vary from sand-like gravel to boulders. Trail was always obvious. We encountered people every 3 miles or so, more at campsites obviously.

Temperature was in 80s during the day and quite hot in some of the areas without shade. Dropped to 40s at night, pretty chilly with wind. Sun went down behind the mountains around 5:30 and went up around 7. No precipitation and only saw a couple small snow patches around Glen Pass. Bugs were active the first and last 3 miles of the loop towards Roads End.

Bear containers are a must. We encountered 4 who were easily spooked by yelling and waving arms. Didn't see rattlesnakes.

No campfires above 10,000. Recommended campsites: Upper Paradise, Rae Lakes, Junction Meadow.

We had 1L of water per person with us as you have easy access to a stream or a lake almost the whole time. We had Purinize drops and Lifestraw.

backpacking
3 months ago

Gorgeous! We were a group of 4 and we did the clockwise loop in three days and two nights.

The first day we did 16 miles from roads end to woods creek (all gradual uphill). We had a bear in our camp at night trying to get into nearby bear canisters.

Second day we did 14 miles from woods creek to Charlotte Lake. The Rae Lakes area was breathtaking and Glen Pass was a killer!

Last day we had 16 miles to get to roads end but luckily all nice and gradual downhill.

We all would recommend that you actually did this in 4 days and 3 nights instead. This would have give us more time to just chill and enjoy the beautiful nature.

Enjoy!

hiking
3 months ago

Completed in 15h17m car to car as a CCW day loop. More gruelling than I expected, primarily the descent which I expected to be easier. If I did this again in a day I’d go clockwise to save my knees.

Perfect weather and gorgeous views I’d love to be back again next year to take more time to soak in the views and camp down at Rae Lakes.

Perhaps the single best view was of the canyon basked in the light of a full moon five miles from Roads End travelling south along Paradise Valley Trail.

Very few mossies but I travelled the first and last 5 miles in darkness. Saw four bears (1 just after dawn, 4 after sunset - all within 10 miles of Roads End), a marmot, an incredibly close deer, numerous chipmunks and no rattlers. The south fork of Kings River is now so low that you can hop across rocks to cross - no need to seek out log jams.

Beautiful trail in the gorge by the river. No wildlife sitings, but fun nonetheless!

backpacking
4 months ago

Successfully tackled this adventure as a 3 day/2 night backpacking trip with three great friends. We took the clockwise route around the loop trail. Note that the total distance was longer than indicated in the description of this hike. The National Parks Service web site indicates that the loop trail distance is 41.4 miles long. Our hike was just over 46 miles in all. The difference in distance is likely a combination of GPS accuracy and some side treks along the way. Camping at Charlotte Lake for our second night did add 2.6 miles to the overall distance. Our hiking itinerary was as follows (distances as indicated by GPS tracking):
Day 1 - Road's End to Woods Creek Crossing (16 miles)
Day 2 - Woods Creek Crossing to Charlotte Lake (14 miles)
Day 3 - Charlotte Lake to Road's End (16.07 miles)

Overall this is an epic hike! One of my new favorites. Completing it in 3 days is a physical challenge, which may be easier for some than others. Climbing to the summit of Glenn Pass from either direction is taxing. Have plenty of water, electrolytes, energy gels, or whatever else may give you the strength to persevere.

The scenery is fantastic, wildlife encounters are memorable (deer, marmot, pika, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, lizards, and bear). We didn't fish but we did talk with a few others who were fishing along the way and they all reported great success.

Loved our hike! Perfect temperature and not too busy. Clearly marked and very easy hike. Huge issue with mosquitoes and flies at the trailhead and continued along the hike

backpacking
4 months ago

Hiking this trail was an amazing experience. We went with a clockwise three night plan. Camped at upper paradise, middle Rae, and junction meadow. All three were great camps. You will travel through thick shady woods, grassy open meadows, and rocky alpine trails, all surrounded by gorgeous peaks. We saw a bear .5 mile past upper paradise, a family of deer at Rae, a marmot, a snake (not rattler), fish, chipmunks. The nights are much colder past 10,000ft elev. There is lots of water along the trail, but from Rae over glen pass to lake Charlotte, there isn’t much. You do get swarmed with gnats in the lower miles to start and finish the loop. Luckily, I brought my mosquito head net. The crossing was only lower shin deep. The suspension bridge was awesome. Had to walk across a second time just for fun. Also, a good time chatting with the JMT hikers from woods creek crossing to over glen pass. A friendly trail crew were blasting rock above vidette meadow, so we got held up for about 20 minutes, but it was nice talking to them and cool to hear the explosion. I definitely recommend this adventure.

hiking
4 months ago

Camped at the Sentinel campground the night before our permit date for Rae Lakes. Was able to secure a counter-clockwise loop. To get an early morning start, got to the Road's End permit station around 8AM. There were a couple of people ahead of us. Fro being outside the peak season, the trail was still quite busy.

IMPORTANT: bring a bug net, mosquitoes are in full force the first 3-5 miles in either direction.

Saw 1 bear near the Road's end station and 1 rattler about 1/4 before the first bridge (Bailey?).

Really enjoyed the CCW direction. You work hard the first 2 days and the 3rd/4th day should be a breeze. Camped at Vidette Meadow Day 1, and Middle/Upper Rae Day 2...near bear box 3. Planned on camping at Lower Paradise for Day 4, but had the energy and daylight to finish on Day 3.(big miles but mostly downhill).

hiking
4 months ago

Great short hike. Little elevation. Saw three rattle snakes by the boardwalk in Zumwalt Meadows.

Roaring River Falls in Late August does not have a lot of water but still pretty during Golden hour.

What a great trail, well marked and maintained. The hike is closer to 7.1 miles and takes over 4 hours. Be sure to stop often and look up and around..... the giant Sequoia’s are so beautiful and the views breathtaking.
We went on Labor Day, the parking lot was full but didn’t run into too many groups.
Started at the Sugar Bowl trail head, to the right, and made the loop. It was at least 20 degrees cooler up in Kings Canyon than in the valley. Since it’s summer, the small creeks were dry. However, there is a nice stream that runs along the last couple miles and I recommend sitting, cooling off your feet before the last mile, all uphill.
Looking forward to coming back in the Spring!

Great Labor day hike from 3pm-7pm. Felt longer than 6.5 miles though. Just couple of locations with mosquitoes but not bothersome. We started from teh redwood creek to sugar bush to complete the loop. The views were astounding. Sequoia trees were mesmerizing specially the first half of the trail starting from sugar bush. Take plenty of water and wear long sleeeves & pants as there are areas with very narrow trail surrounded by short bushes.

backpacking
4 months ago

Can't say we completed the entire loop unfortunately. We entered at Roads End on 8/24/18 where we prepared for the clockwise loop starting on the woods creek trail. We were told about a "small" fire at Bubbs Creek and told not to report it as it was less than 1/2 an acre and the park crew were fully aware. We were told it wouldn't impede us and it was "insignificant". Unfortunately we got turned around at the Bubbs Creek Trail/JMT-PCT junction and had to back track and exit over Kearsarge pass into Onion Valley because the fire had spread and the trail was closed.
The trail up to Bubbs Creek was very well maintained and the scenery breath taking. We ran into a trail crew along the JMT/PCT and thanked them for their upkeep of the trail. They really do a stellar job at keeping the trail well maintained.
Upper Paradise Valley and Rae Lakes are both very busy for camping areas so plan to get there early to ensure a good spot. There were a lot of bugs until we reached Upper Paradise; they weren't a bother at all after that point. We had heard they were a nuisance at Arrowhead and Rae Lakes but we had no issue in late August.
Our planned itinerary:
Day 1 - Ranger Station to Upper Paradise
Day 2 - Upper Paradise to Arrowhead Lake
Day 3 - Arrowhead Lake to Rae Lakes (short day to ensure time at Rae Lakes)
Day 4 - Rae Lakes to Sphinx Junction. This ended up being Rae Lakes to Bubbs Creek, back to Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley
Day 5 - Sphinx to Ranger station

hiking
4 months ago

Did this as a day hike in about 10 hours. I was hurtin pretty bad for the last few miles but it was so worth it. Saw a bear and about 6 deer. Bring a head net for the bugs or you will be sorry. I would love to come back and camp at low or middle paradise valley. My favorite part was the view down the canyon looking at the Sphinx. What a beautiful and amazing trail. This was an experience I’ll never forget.

4 months ago

A 1988 Anuerism/Major Stroke Survivior completed the trail 4 days in 2000, and 6 days in 2018. The latest was a lot more difficult and exhausting but just as beautiful and exciting. Except the 2 encounters with Ratters.

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