Steep, winding roads and shoulders that are either narrow or nonexistent make bicycling here more of a danger than a pleasure. Outside of campgrounds, you are not allowed to pedal on unpaved roads.


More than 200 species of birds inhabit Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. Not seen in most parts of the United States, the white-headed woodpecker and the pileated woodpecker are common in most mid-elevation areas here. There are also many hawks and owls, including the renowned spotted owl. Species are diverse in both parks due to the changes in elevation, and range from warblers, kingbirds, thrushes, and sparrows in the foothills to goshawk, blue grouse, red-breasted nuthatch, and brown creeper at the highest elevations. Ranger-led bird-watching tours are held on a sporadic basis. Call the park's main information number to find out more about these tours. The Sequoia Natural History Association (559/565–3759 also has information about bird-watching in the southern Sierra.

Cross-Country Skiing

For a one-of-a-kind experience, cut through the groves of mammoth sequoias in Giant Forest. Some of the Crescent Meadow trails are suitable for skiing as well; none of the trails is groomed. You can park at Giant Forest. Note that roads can be precarious in bad weather. Some advanced trails begin at Wolverton.

Pear Lake Ski Hut. Primitive lodging is available at this backcountry hut, reached by a steep and extremely difficult 7-mile trail from Wolverton. Only expert skiers should attempt this trek. Space is limited; make reservations well in advance. Trailhead at end of Wolverton Rd., 1½ mi northeast off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. 559/565–3759. $38. Dec.–Apr.

Wuksachi Lodge. Rent skis here. Depending on snowfall amounts, instruction may also be available. Reservations are recommended. Marked trails cut through Giant Forest, about 5 miles south of the lodge. Off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), 2 mi north of Lodgepole, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. 559/565–4070. Nov.–May (unless no snow), daily 9–4. Shuttle: Wuksachi-Lodgepole-Dorst.


There's limited trout fishing in the creeks and rivers from late April to mid-November. The Kaweah River is a popular spot; check at visitor centers for open and closed waters. Some of the park's secluded backcountry lakes have good fishing. A California fishing license, required for persons 16 and older, costs about $15 for one day, $23 for two days, and $46 for 10 days (discounts are available for state residents and others). For park regulations, closures, and restrictions, call the parks at 559/565–3341 or stop at a visitor center. Licenses and fishing tackle are usually available in Lodgepole.

California Department of Fish and Game. The department supplies fishing licenses and provides a full listing of regulations. 916/653–7661.


The best way to see the park is to hike it. The grandeur and majesty of the Sierra is best seen up close. Carry a hiking map and plenty of water. Visitor center gift shops sell maps and trail books and pamphlets. Check with rangers for current trail conditions, and be aware of rapidly changing weather. As a rule of thumb, plan on covering about a mile per hour.


Big Trees Trail. This one's a must, as it does not take long to stroll and the setting is spectacular: beautiful Round Meadow surrounded by many mature sequoias, with well-thought-out interpretive signs along the path that explain the ecology on display. The 0.7-mile Big Trees Trail is wheelchair-accessible. Parking at the trailhead lot off Generals Highway is for cars with handicap placards only. The round-trip loop from the Giant Forest Museum is about a mile long. Easy. Trail begins off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), near the Giant Forest Museum, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Giant Forest.

Congress Trail. This 2-mile trail, arguably the best hike in the parks in terms of natural beauty, is a paved loop that begins near General Sherman Tree. You'll get close-up views of more big trees here than on any other Sequoia hike. Watch for the clusters known as the House and Senate. The President Tree, also on the trail, supplanted the General Grant Tree in 2012 as the world's second largest in volume (behind the General Sherman). An offshoot of the Congress Trail leads to Crescent Meadow, where in summer you can catch a free shuttle back to the Sherman parking lot. Easy. Trail begins off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), 2 miles north of Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Giant Forest.

Crescent Meadow Trails. A 1.8-mile trail loops around lush Crescent Meadow past Tharp's Log, a cabin built from a fire-hollowed sequoia. Brilliant wildflowers bloom here in midsummer. Easy. Trail begins at the end of Moro Rock–Crescent Meadow Rd., 2.6 miles east off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Moro Rock–Crescent Meadow.

Muir Grove Trail. You will attain solitude and possibly see a bear or two on this unheralded gem of a hike, a 4-mile round-trip from the Dorst Creek Campground. The remote grove is small but indescribably lovely, its soundtrack provided solely by nature. The trailhead is subtly marked. In summer, park in the amphitheater lot and walk down toward the group campsite area. Easy. Trail begins in Dorst Creek Campground, Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), 8 miles north of Lodgepole Visitor Center, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Lodgepole-Wuksachi-Dorst.


Little Baldy Trail. Climbing 700 vertical feet in 1.75 miles of switchbacking, this trail ends at a granite dome with a great view of the peaks of the Mineral King area and the Great Western Divide. The walk to the summit and back takes about four hours. Moderate. Trail begins at Little Baldy Saddle, Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), 9 mi north of General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Lodgepole-Wuksachi-Dorst.

Tokopah Falls Trail. This trail with a 500-foot elevation gain follows the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River for 1.75 miles one way and dead-ends below the impressive granite cliffs and cascading waterfall of Tokopah Canyon. The trail passes through a mixed-conifer forest. It takes 2½ to 4 hours to make the round-trip journey. Moderate. Trail begins off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), ¼ mile north of Lodgepole Campground, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. Shuttle: Lodgepole-Wuksachi-Dorst.


Marble Falls Trail. The 3.7-mile trail to Marble Falls crosses through the rugged foothills before reaching the cascading water. Plan on three to four hours one way. Moderate. Trail begins off the dirt road across from the concrete ditch near site 17 at Potwisha Campground, off Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262.

Mineral King Trails. Many trails to the high country begin at Mineral King. Two popular day hikes are Eagle Lake (6.8 miles round-trip) and Timber Gap. (4.4 miles round-trip) At the Mineral King Ranger Station (559/565–3768) you can pick up maps and check about conditions. Difficult. Trailheads at end of Mineral King Rd., 25 miles east of Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198), Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262.

Horseback Riding

Trips take you through forests and flowering meadows and up mountain slopes.

Tours and Outfitters

Grant Grove Stables. Grant Grove Stables isn't too far from parts of Sequoia National Park and is perfect for short rides.

Horse Corral Pack Station. One- and two-hour trips through Sequoia are available for beginning and advanced riders. Big Meadow Rd., 12 miles east of Generals Hwy. (Rte. 198) between Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262. 559/565–3404 in summer; 559/564–6429 year-round. $40–$75. May–Sept.

Sledding and Snowshoeing

The Wolverton area, on Route 198 near Giant Forest, is a popular sledding spot, where sleds, inner tubes, and platters are allowed. You can buy sleds and saucers, with prices starting at $8, at the Wuksachi Lodge (559/565–4070), 2 miles north of Lodgepole.

You can rent snowshoes for $18–$25 at the Wuksachi Lodge (559/565–4070), 2 miles north of Lodgepole. Naturalists lead snowshoe walks around Giant Forest and Wuksachi Lodge, conditions permitting, on Saturdays and holidays. Snowshoes are provided for a $1 donation. Make reservations and check schedules at Giant Forest Museum (559/565–4480) or Wuksachi Lodge.


Drowning is the number-one cause of death in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks. Though it is sometimes safe to swim in the parks' rivers in the late summer and early fall, it is extremely dangerous to do so in the spring and early summer, when the snowmelt from the high country causes swift currents and icy temperatures. Stand clear of the water when the rivers are running, and stay off wet rocks to avoid falling in. Check with rangers if you're unsure about conditions or to learn the safest locations to wade in the water.