the towering sierra nevada mountains in california

Hiking Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park

If you enjoy beautiful places to watch the sunset, I have a perfect one for you! Moro Rock, in Sequoia National Park, is the best place to enjoy the magic of last light in the park. 

With 350 stairs leading you to the top of a granite dome, the Moro Rock hike is less of a hike and more like climbing stairs with beautiful views in all directions. 

Even if you don’t want to hike for sunset, getting up during the middle of the day is just as grand.

Look to the west for one of America’s great mountain ranges, home to alpine lakes, enchanting meadows, and views few people can see in person. 

stairs leading up to moro rock. they wide to the right
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

A Guide to the Moro Rock Hike

How hard is the Moro Rock hike? 

You’ll break a sweat and breathe hard while hiking, but that’s partly due to hiking at 6,500 feet. In all, though, it’s not a hard hike. It’ll probably take you 20 minutes to get up as you’re enjoying the views and taking photos. 

Plus, there’s no need to rush the hike up. 

How long of a hike is Moro Rock?

It’s not long at all. The Moro Rock hike is about a mile hike in total. You ascend over 300 feet to reach the top, where you’ll have gobsmacking views. It’s truly a sight to see.

Odds are, you’ll be done before you start to get tired.

a hiker stands next to the rails at the top of moro rock
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

What makes Sequoia’s Moro Rock so unique? 

The most apparent reason Moro Rock is a fan favorite is its 350 + steps to the top. There’s honesty no place like it. 

It’s a real-life stairmaster built into a granite rock dome and is much more enjoyable than the gym. Going up, you’ll have fantastic 360-degree views of the Sierra Nevada Range to your west and the valleys to your east. 

It’s a gorgeous place to watch the sunset. 

light fog and sunset colors on the ridglelines.
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

Staying Safe on Moro Rock

How scary is Moro Rock?

I might not be the best person to say this, but I don’t think it is scary at all. You always have handrails if needed; for 98% of the hike, there’s no way to fall off. (Once at the top, you could jump off/get over the fence, but that’s not an accident at that point.)

For those scared of heights, they might take issue with this hike. That being said, the risk is minimal, and you should at least attempt it. If you find it scary, then turn around. 

the moro rock stairs. you there's a steep drop off to the left
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

When NOT to hike up

I highly recommend not hiking up Moro Rock if there’s a nearby storm. At the top, you’d be a lightning rod surrounded by metal handrails. Additionally, even if it’s not lightning, the granite rock in the rain can be dangerous as it becomes incredibly slippery.

While this might not be life-threatening (unless you slide off the top), you could get hurt slipping on the steps. 

Should you bring young kids on the hike? 

I would recommend not bringing young kids who are a risk to run around and potentially run off the top of the rock. While there are some guardrails, a small kid could easily go under them and die. Once you can trust your kid to behave well (10 years old?), they could easily do this. 

Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

What to bring up to Moro Rock?

Odds are, you’ll be hiking for 60 minutes, so there’s not a lot you need to bring. I’d focus on having a liter of water, a hat and sunglasses, and a light jacket in case it’s windy up there. 

Furthermore, if you’re taking photos, bring your gear and get ready for some stunning views! 

Lastly, if you’re going to watch the sunset, make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight for the trip down. 

Photos from the Moro Rock hike

sunset colors with fog and some mountain tops
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside
last bit of the sun before it goes below the horizon
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside
a pink hue of sunset colors with trees and fog
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

What else is there to do near Moro Rock?

The best place to explore before or after hiking Moro Rock is Crescent Meadow. Ten minutes past the Moro Rock stairs, you’ll have the ability to wander around Giant Sequoias. This area is much less crowded than the Congress Trail and General Sherman Tree, so you’ll have a little more solitude. 

Additionally, as you’re driving, you’ll pass by the Tunnel Log. It’s a favorite of tourists to visit. I mean, how often do you get the chance to drive through a huge tree? 

Crescent Meadow Main Loop:

This is a 1.6-mile loop trail that offers a gentle hike through the Giant Forest. It’s a collection of loops, allowing hikers to experience the serene beauty of Crescent Meadow, surrounded by giant sequoias​​.

High Sierra, Tharp’s Log, and Crescent Meadow Loop:

This loop trail is 1.8 miles long with an elevation gain of 219 feet. It’s considered an easy route and takes about 44 minutes to complete, making it an excellent choice for a short, scenic hike​​.

High Sierra Trail (Section from Crescent Meadow):

For a more challenging adventure, you can start the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow. This famous trail offers a variety of longer hiking options, leading deep into the wilderness of Sequoia National Park. The entire trail is a significant endeavor, often taking at least a week to complete, but shorter sections can be hiked starting from Crescent Meadow.​

sierra nevada mountains with a little snow
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

What is the history of Sequoia’s Moro Rock?

Moro Rock, a prominent granite dome in Sequoia National Park, California, boasts a fascinating history deeply intertwined with the natural and cultural landscape of the region.

The geological story of Moro Rock began millions of years ago during the Cretaceous Period. It is part of the Sierra Nevada batholith, a massive granitic formation created by the slow cooling of molten rock deep beneath the Earth’s surface. Over millennia, erosion stripped away the softer rock layers, revealing today’s hard granite dome.

Before the establishment of Sequoia National Park, the area surrounding Moro Rock was inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Mono and Yokuts tribes. These native groups had a deep connection with the land, although specific historical uses of Moro Rock by these tribes are less documented.

mountains above a valley from the top of moro rock
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

The modern history of Moro Rock is closely tied to the development of Sequoia National Park. The park was established in 1890 primarily to protect the giant sequoia trees. With its commanding view of the surrounding landscape, Moro Rock quickly became a point of interest for early visitors.

In the 1930s, as part of the New Deal programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed a stairway to the summit of Moro Rock. This stairway, comprising over 400 steps, opened up the rock to visitors who could climb to its peak for panoramic views of the park and the Great Western Divide. This construction was a significant engineering feat and remains a popular attraction within the park today.

Moro Rock has also played a role in conservation efforts. It’s situated within the Giant Forest, which has undergone extensive restoration to preserve its natural beauty and ecological integrity. The rock itself, along with the surrounding park, continues to be a symbol of the enduring value of natural preservation in the United States.

FAQ: Sequoia National Park and Moro Rock

Can you see Mt. Whitney from Moro Rock? 

No, you cannot see Mt. Whitney from Morrow Rock. The Great Western Divide Peaks of the Sierra Nevada are too tall, plus the distance from Sequoia Nationa Park to the eastern side of the mountain range is too great to see the tallest peak in the Lower USA. 

A photo of a map detailing the mountain peaks
Photo Caption: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @AlecOutside

Are dogs allowed on Moro Rock?

No dogs are allowed on the Moro Rock hike. Dogs are also not allowed on any Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Park trails. 

Final Thoughts on Moro Rock

Moro Rock is a fantastic short hike to tackle while you enjoy Sequoia National Park. Make sure to add it to your day while you explore Crescent Meadow and Tunnel Log, along with the General Sherman Tree and Congress Trail. 

You’re going to have a fantastic time with these giant trees!

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