Explore the most popular waterfall trails in Kings Canyon National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

11/25/18 One of our favorites so far! The trail was a fairly easy hike. Any inclines were very gradual. We really enjoyed the variety of scenic views, from giant sequoias, to rock formations, small waterfalls, babbling brooks and a look out point overlooking kings canyon. The trail was easy to follow and never any cliffs to worry about. There was just a little bit of snow. Enough for us to make a small snowman to honor our friends in Wisconsin. While we didn’t see any wildlife it’s certainly out there. We saw a couple dozen bear pop piles. Note: carry bear spray just to be safe. Temps were in the mid 40’s with abundant sunshine. It was perfect weather. We looped the trail counterclockwise. With a short trail snack we finished in 3 hours for a total of 8.25 miles. On our drive out on the dirt road we came across a LARGE BOULDER in the middle of the road. It fell while we were on the trail. We managed to get around it but it was very tight. We notified the ranger. Hopefully they remove it soon. Definitely a hazard. Would definitely do this hike again!

backpacking
29 days 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!!!!!!!

SUPER WORTH IT!!! Beautiful views and MASSIVE trees! Would definitely recommend

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.

hiking
1 month ago

It was 45 F when we started this hike at 0830 on 10/4/18. It had poured rain the previous day and ice warnings were in the forecast which I think scared everyone away. We saw no one on the way up and only a handful of people on the way back. The temperature never got warm enough to where the bugs were a problem even though we were prepared with head nets and bug spray. The first part of the hike was through the valley with gorgeous views on either side. After the junction to the Bubb's creek trail the trail begins a gradual ascent up to the falls. There is a section where you come out of the trees and you have unimpeded views of the canyon that are pretty spectacular. If you're a photographer, a wide angle lens is a must (or take multiple photos and stitch them together in post, or just take a panorama w/ your camera phone). Right before we got to the falls ran into a cinnamon colored black bear and her cub. That was a treat. The falls themselves are not spectacular as far as falls go, but it's a convenient turn around point. On the return we followed the Bubbs Creek trail across the river then took the spur back to the trailhead. Not as scenic as the trail coming out, but it was flat and easy. A pretty easy hike with a high ROE (return on effort).

hiking
1 month ago

A very good trail with moderate traffic. Went on a Saturday morning and continued along the same trail until Paradise Valley. The extra bit was well worth it, with very good views and a nice calm part of the Kings River. Did not see any bears, although we heard one growling nearby.

The best kind of suck in the world

backpacking
1 month 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.

hiking
1 month 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.

Hiked 10/11/18. As great as advertised. Arrived at the trailhead around 8:30am. Plenty of spaces available. Bugs weren’t a problem. We extended the hike an extra mile+ after the falls. That added quite a bit of elevation gain. Ran into a mama bear and her cub cruising down the middle of the trail and heard another just off trail.

Amazing Drive, Love driving along the river

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

2 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.

hiking
2 months ago

Wonderful and spectacular trail! Insects not a problem, no large wildlife sightings today.

backpacking
2 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
2 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
2 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
2 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
2 months ago

This hike was really fun, but definitely a challenge! You're quickly rewarded with the cascades at the very beginning and then it's a long way to the top! The streams and change of terrain along the way make the hike interesting. Ran into some gnats in some parts of the trail. I did not go all they way up to the lookout, but did make it to the summit meadow. The trail to the lookout is really non-existent once you get to that point. I definitely want to do the hike again, but start a bit earlier to leave plenty of time to enjoy the top. (I started the hike at noon and reached the bottom at 4:30.) It is really neat to think of the history of this particular path into the canyon while hiking along!

hiking
2 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!

hiking
2 months ago

Park in small lot for Grizzly Falls. This is an easy hike which you can make as difficult as you want by going uphill from Falls, not sure what is up there. There was no wind so it was going to get hot there in afternoon. This is a great hike to start out your day to see some falls, or after a long hike to stretch out before the ride out of the canyon.
Virtual Treadmill video of this hike can be seen on my YouTube Channel, copy and paste link below to watch it. Thanks. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFO02nxPdM4-CabegFIPlow?view_as=subscriber

hiking
2 months ago

Read reviews here before driving to the park for this hike. They were right on. I sprayed myself with repellant as soon as I parked and had no problems all day. Could see others being driven off the trail by the bugs. Park in one of two lots at end of Road. This is an easy hike which you can make as difficult as you want by going uphill to the Falls and past. Talked with some other hikers and a seasonal ranger on the hike and it was great. There was no wind so it was going to get hot there in afternoon away from the water. Once to the Falls we were about to have lunch when a small bear visited the falls area and gave everyone a thrill. Trail up from falls is not easy and we decided to turn around and save the meadows to another day.
Virtual Treadmill video of this hike can be seen on my YouTube Channel, copy and paste link below to watch it. Thanks. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFO02nxPdM4-CabegFIPlow?view_as=subscriber

hiking
2 months ago

You are ascending the whole way up. Make sure to save energy to make it up to the look out, difficult to fin the trail when you reach the top.

backpacking
2 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.

Hiked here couple days ago with my parents. We started the hike a little later than anticipated. Got some amazing pictures of the falls once we got to the destination. On the way back we were very fortunate and were able to see a couple owls and a black bear :). Great hike, and definitely recommend it to anybody.

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

hiking
2 months ago

Super nice trek - the first half is basically a stroll through the forest, the incline starts after the bridge at Bubbs Creek and goes up steadily about 8/900 feet of the next couple of miles. I came across a bear with her cub about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile before the falls, they stayed in the area around the trail for awhile, because they were still there when I came back a couple of hours later. Gnats and mosquitoes was a pest from about a mile in and almost all the way to the falls, bring a face/hat net, you will be happy you did. It was a rater hot day, even though most of this hike is in the shade of trees, I used about 4 liters of water - good thing the hike is right next to the river. An easy day hike and the beginning of the clock wise Rae Lakes Loop, most day hikers turn around at the falls.

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