Needles Lookout Trail

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Sequoia National Forest

Needles Lookout Trail is a 4.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Springville, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,220 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

wildlife

The road to the trailhead is closed but you can extend the hike from the turnoff which will add an extra 6 miles.

hiking
bugs
rocky
10 days ago

Beautiful short and moderate hike. The trail can be a bit hard to get to by car if you don’t have a GPS so I would recommend downloading the map beforehand. The trek actually first goes up a mountain, down again, and then up towards needles peak. Although the way separates at one point, you just need look up and look for the peak (literally the highest point around you) and walk towards it. When you get to the main staircase, it is tall, steep and fashioned with wood steps, some more warped than others. Halfway up this staircase, there is a gate to stop you from going further. As you may know, the actual lookout tower burned down in 2011. What is left is still amazing. You still get a jaw dropping view so totally worth it.

hiking
11 days ago

Wonderful hike in some altitude. Great scenic hike to/from and the Lookout Tower (removed) has views for miles and miles. Lots of fun.

13 days ago

Amazing views throughout the trail

hiking
15 days ago

Excellent hike, great views, extremely windy at the top. Road up to the trailhead is quite bumpy, keep that in mind.

walking
21 days ago

Most previous reviews give a pretty good idea of what it's like. Gorgeous mountaintop views every step of the way!! Drove my Chevy Malibu on the road to trailhead with a party of 4. Needed to drive pretty slow and ended up parking about 1.5. miles in and walked the rest of the way to the trailhead. A better equipped vehicle is definitely ideal. It was a pretty popular Saturday hike so if you have COVID-19 concerns, hiking prior to 9am is best. I'm afraid of heights, so the last stretch for the 360 degree views on the steps were absolutely terrifying, because the wind was blowing so hard. But it was worth it. And if you time it right, you might catch a test flight from the Lemoore military base flying over! One of the coolest happenstances of the hike! We saw it definitely after 12pm.

hiking
28 days ago

Road getting to the Trailhead is a one-way road and pretty rocky, drive slow and prepare to pull off if others are driving towards you. Trail is easy and shaded going out the the lookout for most of the trip. once you hit the switchbacks going up to the stairs it gets hard to climb and may require some stopping to catch your breath. the stairs look unsteady but are in great condition. we had a fighter jet do training fly bys over our heads while at the top. it's about a 4.42 roundtrip, out and back. great views!!

hiking
1 month ago

05-27-2020 The road is open to the trail head. Fabulous hike. Clear. 71 degrees. Top notch views of Sierra Peaks.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike - lots of up and down. Some rocky areas, lots of shade and lots of sun, some downed trees to navigate over or under. It was moderate difficult, we took lots of rest breaks - the 8000ft elevation made it a little harder. We startled a medium sized black bear as we drove towards the trailhead Didn’t see any snakes although they’re around this time of year. The stairs at the end of the trail are quite steep and the fire lookout is long gone (ironically burned down in 2011). I’m 37, my dad’s 65 and I brought my 2 large breed dogs - everybody did great! Temps were 50-75 from 9:30am-1pm.

walking
rocky
1 month ago

went today with the family. beautiful and totally worth it! we had a dog and a 7 year old who both made it. very narrow single lane dirt road approx 2-3 miles long to get to trail head. great views the whole way! we loved it!

1 month ago

Road to trailhead is closed but you can hike from the turnoff and it becomes about a 10 mile round trip instead. Still highly worth it.

icy
snow
4 months ago

Attempt to hike this trail but the road was snowed in. My car would have not made it. Could have parked and walked 2 miles to the trailhead, but decided to save this hike for the summer.

hiking
7 months ago

Awesome views. Was a little cool Early November. Remember to breathe when ascending the final sets of stairs. Absolutely worth it. Took two hours in and an hour plus out. Our dog loved it. Bring fair amount of water especially for the pup. Trail was well maintained and easy to follow. Views views and more views.

hiking
7 months ago

The dirt road leading to the trail isn’t great for smaller vehicles, but it’s not impossible either. As long as you aren’t planning on going more than 10mph to get to the trail head. The trail itself is beautiful. We did it with our dogs in November and the views, especially at the top, were stunning. Highly recommend.

recorded Recording - Oct 26, 01:50 PM

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Be aware, the drive to this hike is very off road! I was on my crosstrek, and was very concerned. It went well, but just to inform! I wouldn't recommend driving there on sedan The hike was very nice, finished it on the lookout which was leaded thru the stairs. Also, be aware if you re afraid of heights, very high, windy, w/o much things to hold on to. But the views were amazing !!! Not many people there either Will be back in a year or so!

If your car can make it to the trailhead this trail is well worth it. I have a Mini Cooper Countryman. The clearance is good but the road has so many huge holes and rocks it's a slow, rough go. The hike itself has stunning views. The gate at the lookout was locked and I'd say impossible to jump unless you're willing to harness up with some climbing gear.

hiking
8 months ago

this was an amazing trail some cliffs not bad but if your afraid of heights not recommended but over all i loved this hike wished i could of finniahed but wifes lil bro was to chicken shit even thoa i made him hike 35.7 miles through the hole day haha he started liking it after that but i do recommend this trail for aight seeing and animal lovers

hiking
9 months ago

My wife and I hiked yesterday with our kids in carriers. Well marked trail frequented by climbers. A few downed trees over the trail were inconvenient with the kids in back. Overall great hike with great views.

hiking
10 months ago

One of my favourite hikes. Was a hot day but plenty of shade all the way there and back. Made it to the very top of what remains of the old lookout post that provides the most epic view.

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

Getting to the trail itself was the strangest experience to get to a trail. A random dirt road off the major highway that runs through the national forest brings you to the start of the trail. Contrary to what others have said you have to drive about 5 miles on a really rocky, bumpy road (20 mins drive). We were in our Range Rover with regular tires and we were really concerned about getting a flat (and later realized we do in fact have one). We saw a bunch of people driving on the road in their small sedan rental cars. If you don’t have an all wheel drive vehicle with off-roading tires, just be aware that you’re on a road with no service with not many people on it should you get a flat. The trail itself however is quite beautiful. For the first 1/3 there’s gorgeous scenery of the mountains on your left side. Then when you get to the final home stretch (where the stairs begin) it’s absolutely stunning. However, when we went there was a chained gate that blocked the remaining steps that go up to the top. You can step over the gate but the fact it was chained off gave us reason to pause. Overall, amazing views and great little sweat. Took about 3 hours and we were able to do it with our small dog. Giving the trail itself 4 stars (not including the road to get to it).

hiking
11 months ago

2.5 mile dirt trail drive if entering from the West side. doable in a car but not recommended. The hike was very doable today. It was tough but weather was great. Bugs weren't buggin. Bring water.

hiking
11 months ago

All of the snow has melted. Some few downed trees, otherwise trail is in decent shape. Amazing views! The top few stairs are missing to reach the summit, so be careful climbing to the top! Road to the trail head is rough but doable. (I drive a little for focus)

hiking
11 months ago

Easy to moderate especially with the elevation. Spectacular 360 views at the top! Trail is mostly shaded, but I always recommend a broad-rimmed hat when hiking. Beautiful large pines trees and saw several snow plants. There is a metal and wood staircase to the very top and I saw rock climbers scaling the granite peak

hiking
Sun Apr 21 2019

Just rating this so I can write a review for the current conditions. Despite what most trail guides state, this trail is completely snowed in currently and looks like it will be for a month or two! Trail is not visible and covered in about 3-4 feet of snow. I was very excited to complete this and disappointed to find these conditions! Not even the people in town knew the trail was inaccessible. Just wanted everyone to be aware in case anyone tries to complete this in the next few weeks.

hiking
Sun Nov 25 2018

Beautiful trail. The end of the trail is magnificent!

hiking
Sun Oct 14 2018

Amazing views. Short and challenging hike, We stopped several times to enjoy the view. Came early and greeted with several groups coming up on our way down. The 3 miles drive FS21S05 was unpaved road to the parking lot.

hiking
Fri Aug 31 2018

A quiet hike to a classic climbing spot. Bring your own water.

hiking
Tue Aug 21 2018

Amazing hike, good for weekend warriors to cut their teeth on a trail with varying levels of inclination. Bring lots of water and get ready for 3 hours of amazing hours. Lots of shady spots to take a break - take your time and buckle up for the last quarter mile to lookout gate. Stunning!

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