Deep canyons, high peaks, and big trees make Kings Canyon a
treasure in the Sierra Nevada. Originally established as
"General Grant National Park" in 1890 (only one week
after Sequoia National Park), the Kings Canyon National Park was
created and enlarged in 1940. In 1943, Sequoia and Kings Canyon
were merged and managed as one park, sharing miles of boundary
Getting there ...
Winter in the Sierra Nevada has been one of my favorite
vacation plans (Yosemite
2001, Sequoia 2003),
and we have delayed this trip to Kings Canyon from last December
because both Linus and Iris were sick at that time. We did not
start the journey until 11AM since Linus had a 9AM baseball game
and he did not want to miss his game. During the 4+ hours of
driving, Linus and Iris enjoyed playing the "word
relay" game that they had played for hours and learned quite
a few new words.
- Grant Grove
We first checked in the John Muir Lodge at Grant Grove
Village. After a short break, we headed to the General
Grant Tree trail. For the winter season (and at this time
of year), the General Grant Tree trail is the only trail
still open for hiking although there were some sections
of trail covered by snow.
- Redwood Mountain Overlook and Kings Canyon Overlook
Since I was still not sure where to play snow (for sled
ride) after we checked with the visitor center, we
decided to drive around to scout for some places for
tomorrow. We stopped by a couple of vista points along
the Generals Highway. After looking at a few locations,
we still could not decide where the best place was for
The Second Day ...
||I went to the Redwood Mountain
Overlook for the sunrise. Although it has a nice
panoramic view, it does not have the best morning
light as it faces south. It also does not have
any distinct feature, which make it harder to
create an outstanding picture.
When I was back to the room, it was warm that the
window was covered with condensed moisture and
became Linus and Iris' drawing board.
- Sunset Campground
We chose Sunset Campground, which is just 3-min drive
from Grant Grove Village, to try out our sled. The first
slope we tried was not steep enough and the sled could
not get enough speed and often got stuck. We then moved
further to a few other slopes and began to have a few
more smooth rides.
- Big Meadows
On the previous day, we spotted a good candidate at the
end of the road to the Big Meadows (the road was closed
and there were a few winter ski/snowshoe trailheads), and
we decided to give it a try after lunch. There was an
open space with a gentle slope which made it a very nice
sled track. Although there was still a few feet of snow
on the ground, it was quite warm in April that we did not
need any big coats especially when we walked around a
- On the way to Cedar Grove
After some rest and snacks back in the hotel room, we
headed toward Cedar Grove at around 3:30PM. The road to
Cedar Grove was still closed at Yucca Point due to rock
falls in winter season. The road is usually open in
mid-April, and it is scheduled to open on 4/22 this year,
so we are one week early :-(
The Junction View along the way is a magnificent V-shape
steep canyon overlook with a view of the confluence of
the Middle Fork and South Fork of the Kings River.
- Hume Lake
Hume Lake, located in Sequoia National Forest, was built
as a mill pond, and to supply water for a flume that
floated rough-cut sequoia lumber from Converse Basin to
the planing mill 54 miles away. It is such a picturesque
sight with distant mountains in the background reflected
in the crystalline lake. Linus and Iris had a good time
playing sand in the beach volleyball court, and Woanyu
and I had a relaxed break sitting on a swing chair.
The Third Day ...
I went to a turnout on Highway 180 passed the Hume Lake
junction. However, it was too cloudy and the sun only
peeked through the cloud for a few minutes after it has
lost the golden light.
- Big Meadows
We went back to the Big Meadows after checking out. It
was a very good day for everyone that we all had much
higher successful rate for sled rides than yesterday.
Linus kept making new "records" for each of his
Going Home ...
We passed by the Big Stump area on our way out of the park
after lunch. The trail was still covered by snow and only Linus
and Woanyu got off to take a quick look at the trail map. As
usual, we stopped by a McDonald's with a very nice indoor
playground after a couple hours of driving. Linus was still not
tired of the "word relay" game that we kept playing for
another hour in the car. With limited access in Kings Canyon, we
had a short trip for this spring break. We will go back sometime
in a warmer season and have more hiking next time.
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