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John Muir considered Kings Canyon as a rival to Yosemite Valley. The view of the canyon is breathtaking and a portal to extensive hiking opportunities. Home to granite peaks and wild rivers, giant sequoia groves and the General Grant Tree (the world's second largest), Kings Canyon National Park should be on every hikers "to do" list.

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.

Fresh snow made the trail a little hard to follow in the beginning but once we found our way there wasn’t any issue.

Did the hike in regular waterproof hiking boots. Probably should have used snow shoes.

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!

hiking
20 days ago

Beautiful trail up to a granite dome with 360 views. A little different than any of the other trails we did at Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Not too steep. Well maintained trail. We were the only people on the trail in late November.

on Buena Vista Trail

hiking
21 days ago

Great Panoramic view point looking over the mountains. Also amazing spot for sunset, we had the pinkest sunset at this point. We lost the trail on the way up but if you follow all trails route you will be fine. But alternatively if you want to get up to the top quicker you can just simply climb up, which wasn’t too difficult. Small car park but we went at the start of November so was quite and space. Also no toilets at trail head.

backpacking
1 month 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!

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.

We hiked this around noon on 10/4/18. Temperature was in the mid-50s and it was sunny. Unfortunately, we couldn't do the entire loop because of trail closure for trail repairs. It's flat, the meadows looked like a wheat field as far as color and height. The part of the trail that was open followed a river which was pleasant. Short hike, nice views, would've liked to do the whole loop though as I think the trail that was closed would've had better photographic opportunities.

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).

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.

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.

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!

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

backpacking
2 months ago

This trip was absolutely awesome! I did the trip with a group of 5 and we rode pack horses the first day. The trip took a total of eight days and was pretty strenuous but well worth it. We did it in late July and the weather was perfect with beautiful views in every direction

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

hiking
2 months ago

I’ve hiked this trail several times and love the scenery and views. It can be challenging though, with an aggressive grade, unpredictable afternoon rain showers and at certain times, heavy mosquito hatches that can eat you up. The cross country trek to Grouse Lake is especially worth the trip particularly if you enjoy fly fishing.

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.

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