We had some extra time before starting the drive home, so we decided on 2 short hikes in the park. These both are very short, easy and well maintained, which also means lots of crowds! If you are only spending a short amount of time in Sequoia & Kings Canyon, I recommend at least seeing these two attractions.
Miles: 1.6 roundtrip
Elevation Change: 500 ft
Trail Type: Out and back
Trailhead: Google Maps
Cost: Free after $20 park admission fee
We woke up early at Lodgepole Campground and had breakfast while we let our tents dry. Although pricey ($44 for the weekend) and a little crowded for my taste, the bathroom facilities were very clean and warm, a refreshing change to the normal primitive campgrounds we stay at.
We loaded up the car and headed to the General Sherman Tree parking lot, a half mile further than the handicap parking lot. It was a short walk along the highway to the trailhead, and we passed several large trees characteristic of Giant Forest.
From the trailhead, the walk was mostly downhill on a paved path. We saw lots of wildlife this morning including chipmunks, squirrels, and woodpeckers.
The paved path has several splits, allowing you to see several other notable trees in the area. We saw the target tree from a distance, and when we got closer we truly were amazed by its massive size. The tree is not the tallest or widest, but it does hold the largest volume. It measured 275 feet tall and 36.5 feet wide and is estimated to be 2,200 years old! It truly was amazing to see.
The hike back to the car was uphill, and although short, we were still out of breath up at 7,000 feet. After a quick stop at the museum across the street, we got back in the car and drove up to the Moro Rock parking lot.
The parking lot only holds about 15 cars, but you can still parallel park along the side of windy road. We managed to snag a spot and started climbing up the steps carved into the rock. It is truly a unique feature, you are treated to amazing views of the valley and snow capped mountains right from the beginning. Those scared of heights should be wary - some parts of the path are only narrow enough for one person the railings are quite low. We saw lots of chipmunks and hummingbirds enjoying the blossoming flowers out of the cracks of the rock.
It was difficult capturing the 360 degree views from the very top of the rock. We were lucky enough to be able to spend several minutes up there undisturbed, all squeezed up against the railings. You almost feel as if you are suspended in the air above the valley! Since it is one of the best views accessible by such an easy hike, I can imagine there being a long line for a picture at the end of the railing during the summer.