Visiting Sequoia National Park California

The 13 Best Hikes in Sequoia National Park

The best hikes in Sequoia National Park will shock you! There’s no doubt about that.

Sequoia is one of the most impressive National Parks I’ve ever encountered. And after four trips here, it still keeps blowing me away even though I know how big the trees are.

There is no comparison in this world to how big the Giant Sequoias are. You have to see them to experience them. 

As you plan your trip here (use my guide), add a few of these trails to your itinerary. Most are family-friendly, with a few being more strenuous full-day hikes.

But whatever hikes you choose in Sequoia National Park, I know you’ll love them!

A Guide to the Best Hikes in Sequoia National Park

1 Moro Rock

A short, steep climb that leads to breathtaking views of the Great Western Divide and the park’s western half. The stone and concrete stairway is well-maintained, offering a safe yet thrilling ascent.

Moro Rock might make some people uneasy, but it’s relatively safe, and you’d need an act of god to throw you off it. Parking might be tight, so sunrise or sunset is the best! Of the best hiking trails in Sequoia National Park, this is the one to do for sunset! (Trust me, it’s amazing!)

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Moderate
stairs leading up to moro rock. they wide to the right
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

2 Congress Trail and General Sherman Tree

This trail winds through the magnificent giant sequoias, including the world-renowned General Sherman Tree, the largest tree on earth by volume. It’s a gentle hike that offers an immersive experience in the ancient forest.

It’s easily my favorite trail in the park and one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park overall. There’s a steeper uphill coming up at the end, but otherwise, it’s mellow. 

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
general sherman tree is on the congress trail which is one of the best hikes in sequoia national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

3 Redwood Canyon 

It is known for its lush, deep canyon filled with the largest sequoia grove in the park. The trail offers serene hikes through the majestic giants and is a great place for solitude and backcountry camping. Now, it may not technically be in Sequoia National Park, but it is still a must-see for giant trees.

There are four possible routes to take from the trailhead. We did a couple of miles out and back and loved it! 

This has a short dirt road section that is narrow. We did it in a Toyota Highlander and had no issue. 

  • Distance: Varies
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Visiting Sequoia National Park California
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

4 Crescent Meadow

Often referred to as the “Gem of the Sierra,” this trail is famous for its beautiful meadow, vibrant wildflowers, and the historic Tharp’s Log, a cabin made inside a fallen sequoia. You can do multiple routes, but the entire loop is the one I recommend that hits Tharp’s log and is definitely one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park. 

Plan to spend a few hours here, and don’t miss the Tunnel Log on your way back!

  • Distance: Varies on Route
  • Difficulty: Easy
Crescent Meadow Sequoia National park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

5 Tokopah Falls 

This trail follows the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River, leading to the impressive Tokopah Falls, a 1200-foot waterfall. The hike is especially rewarding in the spring and early summer when the water flow is at its peak.

  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

6 Marble Falls

A hidden gem in the park, this trail offers a strenuous hike through chaparral and oak woodlands, culminating at the beautiful Marble Falls, especially stunning in the spring with abundant wildflowers and water flow.

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

7 Big Trees Trail

This is an easy, educational loop that meanders through the Giant Forest, providing informative displays about the ecology of giant sequoias. It’s perfect for families and those interested in learning about these ancient trees. If you’re looking for family hikes, this is one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park. 

  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
A female hiker stands near a giant sequoia tree.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

8 Pear Lake

This challenging hike takes you through diverse landscapes, including lush meadows and alpine terrain, leading to the stunning Pear Lake. It’s a popular trail for backpackers seeking a remote, beautiful backcountry experience.

  • Distance: 12 miles
  • Difficulty: Hard

9 Watchtower Trail

Known for its spectacular views and sheer cliffs, this trail offers a thrilling hike with vistas of Tokopah Valley. It’s an excellent option for those seeking a bit more adventure and stunning high-altitude scenery.

  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to hard

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10 Emerald Lake

A scenic hike that takes you through forests and meadows, culminating at the serene Emerald Lake. The trail is known for its tranquility and is an excellent spot for fishing and picnicking.

  • Distance: 10.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Hard

11 Alta Peak

Offering some of the most breathtaking views in the park, this strenuous hike takes you to the summit of Alta Peak. It’s a challenging trek, but the panoramic vistas of the High Sierra are unparalleled.

  • Distance: 14 miles
  • Difficulty: Hard

12 Little Baldy Trail

A moderate hike leading to the summit of Little Baldy offers expansive views of the Sierra Nevada foothills and the Great Western Divide. It’s a lesser-known trail providing a peaceful, less crowded hiking experience.

  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

13 Mt Whitney

Did you think I’d forget the most epic hike in Sequoia National Park? Sitting on the eastern boundary line is the tallest peak in the lower 48. Mount Whitney is one of my favorite summits I’ve done and offers ridiculous views wherever you look.

training for mount whitney california hiking
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

The only way to access the summit from the National Park is to hike the High Sierra Trail, which is about 70 miles. 

  • Distance: 22 miles from Whitney Portal
  • Difficulty: Hard

Related: Training for Mt. Whitney //
Summiting Mt. Whitney in one day // Pictures from Whitney

PS: I realize adding Whitney opens up many other hikes you can do, but I’m going to leave it at Mount Whitney. 

Backpacking Trails in Sequoia National Park

While Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park are amazing, their backpacking trails make these true gems. There are hundreds of miles of trails – none of which I’ve ever done. Some of the above, like Pear Lake, could also be turned into a backpacking trip. 

Use these as a guide, but you can make a fantastic trip out of anything if you get the permits. 

views looking into the great western divide, offering some of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

High Sierra Trail

This iconic trail covers 72 miles, stretching from the Giant Forest to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. It offers dramatic views of the Great Western Divide and the Sierra Nevada, traversing lush meadows, alpine lakes, and high mountain passes.

If you do it one way, it should take you 6-7 days, with a summit at the end. Just remember you need someone to pick you up on the other side. 

Mineral King

A challenging and scenic loop in the Mineral King section of the park, this trail takes you through beautiful alpine valleys, over high mountain passes, and past pristine, high-altitude lakes. It’s a great way to experience the remote and rugged terrain of the High Sierra.

This route can be 40-50 miles, depending on the route. Plan to be gone for at least four days. 

This has been on my list for a few years, and would have knocked it out in 2021, but wildfires throughout the state got in the way. 

Big Five Lakes Trail 

Part of the more extensive Sequoia-Kings Canyon wilderness, this trail takes you through some of the most beautiful backcountry areas, including the stunning Five Lakes Basin. The trail offers a great mix of high mountain scenery, meadows, and, of course, the impressive alpine lakes.

Kaweah Basin Trail

This remote and less traveled trail offers an authentic wilderness experience. The trail is known for its rugged beauty, including high alpine basins, glacial valleys, and the striking Kaweah Peaks. It’s a challenging route but rewards hikers with solitude and pristine natural beauty.

a female enjoying one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park - congress trail
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

What to know about hiking in Sequoia National Park.

What not to miss in Sequoia National Park

General Sherman Tree and Congress Trail

This is my favorite hike in the park. It’s super accessible, and you can get up close and personal with the Giant Sequoias. Plus, it’s photogenic as you don’t have a lot of shrubbery around the trees, making it look very crisp. 

Moro Rock

It’s a short hike, but the views are wild! You won’t be disappointed when you have 360-degree views of the western divide of the Sierra range

How many days should I spend in Sequoia?

At least three days is a perfect amount of time for visiting Sequoia National Park. At least one of those days is probably not a full day, so you’ll get plenty of opportunities to explore the park’s main areas.

Plus, you should get into Kings Canyon and drive the road for the sightseeing. In this time frame, you should be able to knock off a few of these best hikes in Sequoia National Park.

Remember the altitude when doing the best hikes in Sequoia National Park

Few people live at the altitude of Sequoia National Park. This means you won’t be acclimatized when you visit. Take it slow at the beginning, and understand you’ll be out of breath for the first day. Drink plenty of water and eat food.

Doing these two things will make you feel better and help your body respond quickly.

Keep an eye on the weather

Weather in this area can change rapidly, and temperatures can get chilly, even in summer, considering the elevation is around 6,000 feet. 

Few people visit in the colder months, but it can snow heavily in this area, and it’s crucial to have the right equipment, car, and gear to do it safely.

roads end kings canyon national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Is Kings Canyon better than Sequoia National Park?

Ooh, great question. If we are counting the driveable portions of the park, Sequoia is a better place to adventure. More Sequoias are grouped along the Congress trail, which sets it apart.

Kings Canyon has some epic backcountry locations, but the main areas are nice but not better than Sequoia. That said, you should still visit both when in the area!

Places to see in Kings Canyon

  • General Grant Tree
  • Hume Lake
  • Roads End
  • Zumwalt Meadows
  • Panoramic Point Overlook
  • Redwood Canyon Trailhead
  • Roaring River Falls
  • Mist Falls

Bring the Appropriate Hiking Gear

Bring appropriate hiking gear as you hit the best hikes in Sequoia National Park. 

Click here to see my backpacking essentials.

one of the best hiking trails in sequoia national park, the congress trail
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

FAQ: Hiking in Sequoia National Park

Are there bears?

Yes, there are bears in Sequoia National Park. If you plan camping, secure your food when you’re not at the campsite. But if you are hiking, odds are you won’t see them, and if you do, black bears are more afraid of humans than you will be afraid of them. 

Do you need bear spray in Sequoia?

No. Bear spray is not needed when hiking and exploring Sequoia. But if you do encounter a bear while trekking on the best hikes in Sequoia National Park, let the bear know you’re there, but speak calmly and pick up and small children.

Can you touch the sequoia trees?

Yes, you can, but remember, These are living organisms, and humans carry oils on our skin that can damage them. Touch, but be careful and wise. 

Where to Stay when Visiting Sequoia

Most people stay outside of the park as there are more options. If you’re camping, make sure to get some early reservations or look in the Sequoia National Forest (which is just outside of the park and is a bit of a cheat code).

But for those looking for lodging, Visalia and Fresno will have the most options for you to book a stay. Visalia is much closer, about an hour or so drive into the park.

Check out lodging options here.

Final thoughts on the Best Hikes in Sequoia National Park

You will love your time in Sequoia National Park. Hiking amongst these giant trees will humble you and show why we must protect and preserve our greatest assets. 

So, as you tackle the best hikes in Sequoia National Park, soak it all in. Enjoy it. And come back because this is one of the most impressive places America has to offer. 

Until next time, adventurers, stay safe!

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Bio:

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside