Don Cecil Trail is a 9.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Dunlap, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and birding and is best used from April until November.

9.3 miles
3,339 feet
Out & Back







wild flowers


no dogs

Long, steep route up the south side of Kings Canyon, linking with forest tracks in Giant Sequoia NM. A much shorter hike reaches a series of small waterfalls (Sheep Creek Cascade), in a secluded, mossy ravine. Length: 1 mile to the cascade, 6 miles to the summit meadow Elevation change: 600 feet to the cascade, 3,300 feet to the meadow Difficulty: Easy, to the cascade; Difficult to the Meadow Named after a 19th century shepherd, the Don Cecil Trail was once the main access route into Kings Canyon, linking Cedar Grove with a forest track that starts from CA 198 and follows Big Meadow Creek eastwards. From the grove, the trail climbs steeply and continuously to a meadow beneath 8,500 foot Lookout Peak from where a short spur path leads to the summit, a point that provides excellent panoramas over the canyon and the surrounding peaks. One target for a shorter hike is Sheep Creek Cascade after 1 mile (a 600 foot elevation gain).

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!

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.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Don Cecil is graded incredibly well! It maintains an even climbing incline for its entirety, and allows for consistent pacing all the way up. It's an efficient way to climb out of Kings Canyon proper. Lookout Peak is quite nice (not sure how one could complain about the views aside from a hazy day) , but the spur trail to the peak does get quite scrambly, and could deter a few folks who aren't ready to pull themselves up a steep hill after the 3000+ feet of Don Cecil from the bottom. Had a hard time finding how to get to the meadow, ended up enjoying views of it from the summit road. Saw 2 people total in 7 hrs of hiking.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The trail was well maintained and offered a few cool views on the way up. There were only a few other people on the trail, and for the most part my sister and I had it to ourselves. We started at Sentinel campground and worked our way up to lookout peak. For such a long and uphill hike though, I was anticipating a better view. After hiking three and a half hours to get there, I didn't feel properly rewarded for my efforts. There were also quite a few switchbacks, but the creek that they led to was well worth it. Within the park, there are plenty of other hikes with close to or slightly more difficulty that offer greater views.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I took this trail thinking the sign at the bottom was accurate in the trail's length. The sign was off by my count by a mile. This added 2 miles of heavy climbing to the trip. The trail is easy to follow, but is very steep climbing for most of it. The meadow at the top was disappointing to say the least. I did not go to lookout point. There are enough trees along the trail to give you shade while climbing. I'm not a fast hiker and it took me 6 hours to do the 12 mile round trip.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Start of the Trail:
The cascade can be visited by quite an easy hike of less than an hour, round trip. The lower trailhead for the Don Cecil / Sheep Creek path is along Highway 180 just east of the turning for the Sentinel campground; vehicles can be left at a layby on the north side of the road.

Length: 1 mile to the cascade, 6 miles to the summit meadow

Elevation change: 600 feet to the cascade, 3,300 feet to the meadow

Difficulty: Easy, to the cascade; Difficult to the meadow

The route is not well signposted though easy enough to locate, and starts by climbing through an open forest of large, well-separated pine trees, without any undergrowth. The gradient is gentle at first then increases a little as the path reaches a dirt track (which leads to the Cedar Grove heliport). On the far side, the trees grow closer together, the pines are joined by oak, cedar and fir, and the forest becomes more overgrown, with many fallen branches and decaying logs.

Sheep Creek Cascade:
After a while, a gap in the trees allows the first proper sight of Kings Canyon, now 550 feet below - directly opposite is the steep hillside above Cedar Grove, course of the Hotel Creek Trail, while above and beyond are the rocky peaks of the Monarch Divide. The view doesn't last long, as the path descends a little into taller trees growing around Sheep Creek ravine, and crosses the stream on a footbridge. The creek cascades down the hillside over a series of pools and waterfalls, a feature most impressive in spring and early summer, since at other times the amount of water flowing is quite low.

The best place is a short distance upstream of the bridge. Beyond the falls, the lesser-used path zig-zags up a ridge separating Sheep Creek from the next drainage westwards, later crossing this stream, climbing the east-facing slopes beneath Lookout Peak and meeting the forest track at the edge of Summit Meadow.

Monday, May 29, 2017