Big trees and big canyons -- inspired the separate founding of each of
these parks. In 1943 Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks began to be jointly
administered. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada, even though they are
less well known than Yosemite,
their dramatic landscape testifies to
nature's size, beauty, and diversity--huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep
canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees.
Getting there ...
| We started at ~ 9AM (not too early
so everyone had enough time to prepare...) and had a smooth 4.5-hour
drive with a quick lunch stop in Fresno. I had checked the weather
forecast before the trip, but since the parks cover such huge variations
of terrain and elevation, my weather information was as wrong as it
could be. It was much cooler than expected when we arrived at
Grant Grove in Kings Canyon, so the first thing we did was to buy a
sweater for Iris at the visitor center...
- Grant Grove
Kings Canyon Park is composed of two distinct areas – Grant Grove and
Cedar Grove. Grant Grove is home to the General Grant tree, also
known as "the Nation's Christmas Tree". A short 0.3-mile loop trail gave us
some up-close opportunities to
encounter these giant sequoia trees.
- Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
The sky cleared up on our way to Cedar
Grove (where we will stay for 2 nights) and we could see the majestic views
of canyons and rivers. Over 90% of the total area of the park,
is located to the east of General Grant Grove and forms the headwaters of
the South and Middle Forks of the Kings River and the South Fork of the San
Joaquin River. Both the South and Middle Forks of the Kings Rivers have
extensive glacial canyons. One portion of the South Fork canyon, known as
the Kings Canyon, gives the entire park its name. Kings Canyon, with a
maximum depth of 8,200 feet (2,500 m), is one of the deepest canyons in the
- Grizzly Falls
Grizzly Falls is a 80-foot waterfall located in Sequoia
National Park, about 3 miles from the Cedar Grove area of the Kings Canyon
National Park. the waterfall varies in size depending on the amount of
snowmelt. For this year after a snowy winter, Grizzly Creek Swells and
the waterfall widens to a frothing wall of white water. I could not
get too close to the base of waterfall with my camera on tripod since the
lens was all wet. I had to retreat behind a few trees to take a few
long exposure shots.
- Zumwalt Meadow, Cedar Grove
This 1.5-mile trail passes high granite
walls, lush meadows, and the Kings River. Unfortunately the meadow was
flooded and the path across the meadow was totally under water. We had
to stop at the edge of the meadow just to take a few pictures.
Day 2 ...
Since Cedar Grove is located in the valley, it will not have
the dramatic sunrise because sun is behind the tall canyon walls. I still
wandered around the areas to search for the magic moments.
- Mist Falls
This sandy trail follows the glaciated South Fork
Canyon through forest and chaparral, past an impressive show of rapids and
cascades, to one of the largest waterfalls in Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks. The first part of this 4.6-mile hike (one-way) is relatively flat
and wander through shady (but muddy) forest;
during the last mile to the falls, the trail becomes more rocky and climbs 600'.
We stopped at a big flat boulder right beside a cascade to have our lunch
break. It has a nice view of the
glacier carved canyon. Although we might be just a few hundred
feet short to the real Mist Falls, we decided to head back to save some
stress on our knees since we were already satisfied with the views we saw.
- Roaring River Falls
One the way back to Cedar Grove Lodge, we stopped
by a small but mighty Roaring River Falls.
Day 3 ...
- Kings Canyon
We left Cedar Grove in the early morning to drive to the
Sequoia National Park via Grant Grove in the Kings Canyon. When we
approached Grant Grove area, we were surprised to see it had changed the
scene from summer to winter season with fresh snow along the road.
- Big Stump
Big Stump Basin was added to the national park in 1958 and
allowed visitors in the Grant Grove area to compare the remnants of
destroyed sequoias with nearby giants. We took a short walk in
the snow to enjoy the winter in the summer.
When we drove toward the Sequoia, it was foggy with low
visibility on Generals Highway. The wintery scenery was perfect for
taking pictures of these giant Sequoia.
- Tokopah Falls
After the lunch at Lodgepole, we headed to the Tokopah
Falls (the trailhead is at the far end of the Lodgepole campground that I
almost thought we were on the wrong direction). We took the same trail
back in 1999 when
Linus was just toddler (and Iris was not even born yet!). It
is an easy 1.7 mile (2.7 km) one-way walk along the Marble Fork of the
Kaweah River to the impressive granite cliffs and cascading waterfall of
Tokopah Canyon. Tokopah Falls is 1,200 feet (365.8 meters) high, and is most
impressive in early summer. We saw quite a few
marmots on the trail that Iris was so
crazy about them.
- General Sherman & Congress Trail
With 52,500 cubic feet (1486.6
m^3) of wood, the General Sherman Tree earns the title of the World's
Largest Living Thing. It stands 275 feet (83 m) tall,
and is over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at the base. The trail runs
half a mile (0.8 km) down to the tree from the parking area. Most of
snow has melted away and it looked lush and green again.
Day 4 ...
- Moro Rock
We went to the base of Moro Rock to take a few quick
pictures, but decided not to climb to the top ...
- Crescent Meadow
Crescent Meadow is one of the larger meadows in Giant
Forest, and is a popular anchor for hiking opportunities. It is also a
gateway for hikers of the high Sierra trails. John Muir is said to
have called this lovely, grassy open area the "gem of the Sierra".
- Giant Forest
We had a quick stop at the Giant Forest Museum before we
headed out of the park and started the journey back home before noon.
Going Home ...
10 years ago when we
last visited Kings Canyon National Park, and both Linus and Iris only
had vague memory about those big trees. We have been to the
national parks in Sierra Nevada (Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon)
more than 15 times in the past 25 years, and we enjoyed coming back
again in all different seasons to have a good family time.
[Back to Photo Page]