Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are famous for the
giant sequoia trees, including the largest living thing on Earth,
the General Sherman tree.
There are much more in the parks: the deepest canyon (8200 feet)
in North America, the highest peak (Mount Whitney, 14494 feet) in
the contiguous 48 states, and very diversified plants, animals,
and terrains. This was my second time to visit these twin parks,
and I was more prepared to explore the beauty of the parks.
Getting there ...
It's about four and a half hour driving to Kings Canyon
National Park. We (my mother-in-law, Clare, Linus, and me) got
out at about 8:00AM, and got there just passed noon.
- General Grant tree, Grant Grove
|The General Grant is the third
largest tree in the world and is designated as
the Nation's Christmas Tree. Its photo was
selected by NASA as one of 118 pictures to be
sent on the spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2,
lanuched in August and Septemberof 1977 and now
traveling through space in the outer solar
- North Grove Trail, Grant Grove
||Compared with the trail to the
Gerenal Grant tree, the North Grove Loop trail is
much less crowded. It's a 1.5-mile quiet walk
past meadows and creeks, through mixed conifer
and sequoia forest. We also learned what dogwoods look like.
- Panoramic Point
We went to the Panoramic Point after dinner for sunset.
It is very closed to the Grant Grove Lodge where we
stayed for three nights. The panoramic point is a
spectacular vista of the high Sierra. The weather was
good but it was a little foggy so the distant mountains
were not very clear.
The Second Day ...
- Panoramic Point
||I got up early and went to the
panoramic point before sunrise. It was a little
too cloudy to have a breathtaking sunrise. But it
didn't matter. The joy of seeing the first light
in undisturbed mountains is beyond words and
- Buena Vista Trail
The trail (2-mile round-trip) hikes up to the top of
Buena Vista Peak, a granite peak provides a 360-degree
view looks out over the majestic sequoias in Redwood
Canyon, Buck Rock Fire Tower, and a splendid panorama of
the high Sierras. I carried Linus all the way up to the
top. We were the only people on the trail, and it seems
we owned the peak when we were there.
- Cedar grove
||Roaring River Fall
||The road (Highway 180) to the Cedar Grove is
pretty winding and follows the South Fork Kings
River into the canyon and the valley. We stopped
by the Grizzly Fall and the Roaring River Fall.
Linus fell asleep in the car and was recharged
for our next stop: Zumwalt Meadow.
- Zumwalt Meadow, Cedar Grove
|The Zumwalt meadow loop trail
affords magnicient views of high grante walls, a
lush meadow, and the meandering Kings River.
Linus was energetic again and walked by himself
very efficiently. Most of the trail is in
comfortable shady area. There is a section of
trails where big rocks are everywhere, and Linus
seemed to enjoy climbing rocks very much.
The Third Day ...
- Hume Lake
I didn't make up my mind where I was going to see the
sunrise until I got in my car. I decided to go to Hume
Lake because I wanted to include some water reflection. I
was hoping I could find some place to also include the
setting moon (but I failed). The lake was quiet and the
morning mist covered all over the lake. The sun came out
behind the veil of fog, and a fresh new start began.
- Tokopah Falls Trail
We entered the terroitory of the Sequoia National Park
today. We stopped by the Lodgepole visitor center to get
everything ready. The Tokopah Falls trail is along the
Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. The first three quarters
of the trail is in the shady forest and is very easy and
flat. But it still took us a long time because Linus was
always interested in something else along the trail.
Tokopah Falls is a cascade fall and 1200 feet high. The
granite cliffs and canyons are also impressive. We had
lunch there, and marmots were everywhere looking for
I carried Linus downhills and he fell asleep on my back.
This time we were almost non-stopped and it took less
than 50-min to walked back.
- General Sherman Tree
The General Sherman Tree is 274.9 feet (83.8 m) tall and
102.6 feet (31.3 m) in circumference at its base. 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. The trail here is probably the most crowded
region in the parks. We probably saw more cars and people
than anywhere else combined. We didn't spend too much
time here (probably we should spend more time in the
Congress trail) because we were going to the Crystal Cave
tour at 4:00 PM.
- Crystal Cave
Crystal Cave is the only one of more than 200 caves
within the parks open to the public. Crystal Cave was
discovered in 1918 by two park trail construction
employees who were fishing along Cascade Creek on their
We need to hike down a steep 1/2 mile trail along Cascade
Creek to the cave entrance. Although the temperature in
the cave is a constant 48 degrees F (9 degrees C), we
felt very comfortable and not too cold (of course we
weared winter jackets). The formations in the cave are
very amazing. Stalagmites and Stalactites are everywhere.
In one of the open space in the cave (I think it is
called Marble Hall), the guide turned off all the lights
and we all experienced the "darkest" moment in
- Moro Rock
||There was still time after the
tour at Crystal Cave so we decided to detour to
Moro Rock before dinner. From the top of Moro
Rock, one can have spectacular views of the
western half of Sequoia National Park and the
Great Western Divide. We were hesitated to
climbed to the top because we were all a little
bit tired and I don't think I have the energy
left to carry Linus to the top. Instead, we drove
around the loop and find a spot before the
parking area. By walking down a little bit, we
got a nice view of Moro Rock. From the memory of
my last trip to Sequoia a few years ago, I think
I got a better angle for pictures.
I didn't have any plan for seeing sunset. We were just
driving from Lodgepole back to Grant Grove. After a sharp
turn, we saw the setting sun which was just minutes away
from the moutain ridges. We were so lucky that the next
turnout was just right there facing the best direction. I
was quick enough to catch the last minute of the day.
The Last Day ...
- Crescent Meadow, Giant Forest
|It is the day after the Memorial day
long weekend, and we found there were
much fewer visitors in the park today.
The Crescent Meadow trail, which is
supposed to be one of the most popular
hike in Sequoia, was also very quiet and
we were free to walk on our own pace. I
was hoping I could see plenty of
wildflowers in the meadow, but I guess it
was not the season yet.
- One thing worth particularly mentioned is that the
dogwoods were blooming everywhere. I would never pay
attention to them if they were not blooming.
Going Home ...
I think we knew more and enjoyed more about the Sequoia and
Kings Canyon National Parks in this trip than my last trip four
years ago. We learned more about sequoia trees, learned more
about caves, learned more about canyons, knew what dogwoods are,
knew I can carry Linus and walk for an hour, and even learned
that PowerBar is really a good stuff :-) We will keep learning
more in our next trip.
[Back to Photo Page] [Go to Sequoia and Kings Canyon