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

on Balch Park Trail

2 months ago

What is marked as a trailhead appears to be on state prison grounds. Has anyone actually done this hike?

3 months ago

This trail was a little difficult to find after the sign that says “Freeman Creek Trailhead”. We made a right turn into the lot right past the sign and then you’ll keep going straight onto the road with the marked sign (can’t remember the number) NOT the road to the right. It’ll just take you back to main road.

We hiked about 4.5 miles into the trail and didn’t find any end point so we turned around at this point. It’s a fun trail the first half and going back is a BIG workout. Expect to go up all those fun little descents. Took us about 4 1/2-5 hours total with little stops. Beautiful scenery but definitely a moderate hike. Including taking a little detour in the beginning we did about 10.5 miles. Not sure where this trail was supposed to end.

4 months ago

It was a good day. Wish we were able to cross the river. Went with a 5 year old and she didn’t get tired till we turned back. We will have to try again when the water is a bit lower.

Read the Tips section. It’s important and would have helped a few the reviewers. The description even mentions it... still a beautiful hike without seeing the teacups but if you can cross and scramble up they are worth it!
Also, follow the gpx route for the best place to wade across.

Beautiful views throughout the hike! NOT a difficult trek and I would label it as relatively level and easy. There are many routes to the river bank for anglers.

4 months ago

Nice hike to the falls although you can't really see the teacups unless you wade across the river and scale the side of the mountain. Not feasible for me, the dogs, wife and son... yes it's that easy. There is only a little bit of going around and over some rocks. The trail takes you along the East side of the East fork of the Kern River the whole way. The falls are about 2.5 miles in and on the West side. not really many good places I would cross. The lower part of the falls is beautiful but you can't see the actual teacups from the trail. Gorgeous hike though. Do it.

Sequoia NF is absolutely beautiful! The ride to the trailhead itself is filled with stunning scenery. This trail as described is 2.5 miles of the “River Trail” and is NOT “hard”. My sister-in-law was who doesn’t fancy herself a hiker was hesitant to join the hike because she was put off by the “hard” description. I convinced her based on the distance and topography and she had no trouble at all. Now, we were unable to cross the Kern River and get to the Teacups as the water was too high. We even hiked beyond the Teacups in an attempt to find a safe place to ford to no avail. Oh well, next time we’ll approach from the other side of the river. Nevertheless it was a beautiful day and a beautiful scenic hike along the river.

6 months ago

Awesome hike BUT there are two ways to get there: the first is up the Kern as this map suggests, but yes you need to wade across the river (which is not easy or warm). The second route is (as another writer suggests) up the road another mile-ish past the waterfall/look out. It's very easy to miss. It's an old road that joins a trail which is a little overgrown but quite beautiful. I used a local map which included the trail. It intersects with a few other trails and roads but eventually drops down to the creek and it's easy to scramble to the top of the cups/falls. Be careful! It also looks easy to fall down those falls!

Great trip mountaineering the teacups. the water was a bit higher so it took a little more time to make sure everything was done safely. Don't jump if you don't know how deep it is. We past a group with one guy to had a broken ankle.

7 months ago

Pros: incredible wild flowers, amazing views, and a lot of solitude. Cons: Trail from farewell pass to silver lake is completely overgrown at times with thorny shrubs and fallen trees. The trail beyond that is super hard to find until Franklin pass (which is still snowy) . Be prepared to navigate with a compass and topo and not see a defined trail for miles.

This place was absolutely stunning. When we were here the falls were perfect. The water wasn't too strong, but the rocks are slippery at points. Some people like to remove clothing so keep your eyes out if you have kids! The top of the falls is beautiful and there are several pools to swim around in. Some deeper than others. You can see occasional trout in the streams and deeper pools. We just got home and we already want to go back.

8 months ago

Had an awesome time on this hike! The water was flowing very well, as of 7/29/17. The hike is roughly 3 miles to the cups, but you're on the opposite side of the river.

We ditched our gear and swam across to get to the cups, but I wouldn't recommend that if you're not a strong swimmer. I played in the bottom four cups, but wasn't able to reach the top ones.

Tons of fun definitely recommend this trail!!

9 months ago

My friend and I hiked in to the unofficial campground near the end of the trail over Memorial Day, and were happy to find we got lucky and it was unoccupied! Gorgeous hike down through meadows, sequoias, over the creek a couple times. We used this as a training hike so were breaking in boots and had fully loaded backpacks, and it was perfect, especially because the higher elevations were still snowed in. The camp site is one of those treasures you want to leave perfect as you found it! It's along the creek, with a nice hiker-established fire ring (we didn't use because we hadn't gotten a permit). The hike back is all up, as others have commented, but it's a great trail and well-graded so there's really only a couple sections that cause any strain. We took about 2 hours to get down and 2.5 hours to get back, with 45 pounds on our backs and taking our time...not bad. Unburdened this would be just enough to get the blood pumping. I highly recommend - Freeman Creek is gorgeous and has lots of water this year. And the sequoia are truly guardians in this forest. You can also take a pack horse ride down - the folks who lead them are very nice and that might be fun for anther time. I will be back for sure.

I give this trail only three stars because according to the map, you cross the river, about two+ miles up the trail, I figured there must be a bridge, but there is no way to cross. I was disappointed because we were unable to get to the cups. Am I missing something??

It is amazing scenery

10 months ago

Great day hike while camping at Quaking Aspen. A nice tip that isn't obvious from the map: As you leave the campground, immediately across the highway is a dirt road. Take that for a half mile or so and then take a right onto another dirt road when you get to a junction. That will get you you to the trailhead without having to walk on the dangerous highway. Ended up being about 11 miles from our campsite to the Bush Tree and back.

The trail is very well defined and maintained, never had any issues staying on it. Moderate, but consistent climb go back to Quaking Aspen. Save your water for the the uphill part. You cross a nice stream a few times, which could potentially be a water source.

10 months ago

Nice hike. Lots of Giant Sequoias and wild flowers. Depending of the time of year, you could likely get water from the creek at different points if you don't want to lug it the whole way (especially uphill on the way back). Clearly marked trail that is a little narrow in points, but there is no danger of losing it. Can extend it by going down to Lloyd Rd. and taking one of the close trails a little further down. We did that and ended up over 10.5 miles round trip. Worth noting that the trail doesn't exactly follow the map coordinates in the middle of the trail, but there are no junctions so you don't need to worry about having taken the wrong path. I don't know if they moved the trail a little up the hill at that point, or if the coordinates just follow closer to the creek in that section for some reason. Anyway, it's fine and everything lines up at both ends of the trail.

AMAZING! We hiked with two kids 8 and 10 yr old. Keep going past the 1 mile!!! You'll be glad you did. Due to the massive amount of Rain/Snow this year the water level is very high. Extremely beautiful hike. We hiked 5 miles in and there was still more to the trail. Much to do and see. Our favorite parts were the little primitive camp sights along the way that the kids stopped and played in.

Go 1.4 miles past the bridge to enter from the top. Not easy and it's extremely easy to get lost. If you hike from the bridge to the bottom of the cups, it's not difficult.

The water is WAY too high to get in as of April 23, 2017. You will not be able to see the cups unless you have gear and even then I wouldn't recommend it.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Keep going trail spans many miles

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ran around and spent time up there as a kid. Awesome area!

Monday, November 28, 2016

This is a very nice trail with a scrambly finish at the pools. Best to visit in the summer when you can swim in the pools. Bring canyoneering gear if available. Not for young children or anyone with unsure footing. Ford the river just past the Dry Meadow Creek runoff, and right before a sandy campsite where someone is at quite often (found some grill equipment near and a bbq with gas still hooked up). Climb the hill where the gpx follows as anywhere else is quite dangerous.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

it is a long drive up, but beautiful!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

We thought this trail was great! It was 8 miles round trip for us and took 3.5 hours. The trail is mostly down hill to the halfway point, the George HW Bush Tree. Hiking out was a challenge, but doable! There is a campsite about 3 miles in, near a stream. Great hike for dogs. Many beautiful, giant sequoias.

on Balch Park Trail

Thursday, October 06, 2016

great for a day trip with your family

nature trips
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

We pick wild blackberries along Bear Creek Road leading to Balch Park nearly every summer. We haven't been for about 6 years, so we thought we would drive through on our way to Ponderosa to see if there were any berries. I wasn't very optimistic about finding any, given the recent prolonged drought conditions and the late date, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the blackberries bushes were plenty. Unfortunately most berries were dried up or overripe, but persistence paid off with just enough berries in our buckets to make one batch of wild blackberry jam!

I recommend driving up no later than middle of August to harvest a good amount of blackberries at their peak of ripeness! Make sure to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, close toe shoes and maybe even some latex/rubber gloves as protection against the vicious thorns in the bramble. You don't want thick or leather gloves because the berries are delicate and you will just squish them if you try to pick them wearing leather gloves.

I have a friend that to,d me once about her Balch Park Family camping tradition. They would drive up early enough to stop and pick a bag of blackberries on their way up. She would used them to make wild blackberry syrup and serve over their pancakes for breakfast on the first morning. YUM! What a tradition and what great memories! Something about the labor and pain needs to gather those blackberries just make the reward so much sweeter!

Fishing at Balch Park and picking wild blackberries has definitely been a family favorite!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hiked this just before Memorial Day Weekend, felt like I had the whole area to myself!

As other reviewers noted, keep a lookout for the needles to the right while descending, as well as the large sequoias tucked away on both sides.

If leaving from Quaking Aspen, the trail is downhill -- remember that when you turn around. I chose to turn around at the Bush Tree, as I was running out of daylight. The trail is consistent in steepness going back up, so bring plenty of water an a snack if doing a day hike.

Overall, GREAT day hike (3-4 hours), got my heart pounding on the way back up.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Went this past weekend on opening day spent two nights it was freezing cold at night but worth the sights. My new favorite camping spot...

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Friday, September 04, 2015

My family has been camping here since my dad was a kid. This place is wonderful and kid friendly. We usually spend our days bouldering the tule river, fishing in the pond/lake, walking the nature trail or just hanging out around the campsite. You can also drive a couple of minutes and see the Genesis tree which is the seventh tallest tree in the world. Highly recommend this campsite.

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