I need a backpacking loop: Kings Canyon

2:44 p.m. on July 23, 2009 (EDT)
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3 forum posts

Good morning everyone.

I am looking for a good backpacking trip to do in a couple of weeks for four days, where there will be plenty of water around, and some lakes. I live in Southern Cali, and am hoping to do the kigns canyon. I am finding little help on different websites, and was wondering if any of you had any suggestions.



3:40 p.m. on July 23, 2009 (EDT)
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103 forum posts

What kind of loop do you want? Strenuous and long, or leisurely and short, or somewhere in between?

Rae Lakes is a really popular option. You could also do one in Sequoia, from Wolverton to Alta Meadow to Moose Lake to the Tablelands cross country, dropping into Pear Lake and coming out past the watchtower. If you stay at Alta Meadow you could do a summit of Alta Peak.

Jennie Lakes wilderness is a bit short for a four day outing but still beautiful. It would also be easy to make a loop out of the Mineral King area.

11:17 p.m. on July 23, 2009 (EDT)
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431 forum posts

I have done a number of loops in Kings Canyon, both west and east side entry. How many miles per day do you like to do? Most of the trips I have done are eight days, it takes some time to get to the really nice back country unless you do a lot of miles each day. I can suggest a number of nice trips depending on how far you like to go each day and how much vertical you can take.

8:15 a.m. on July 27, 2009 (EDT)
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560 forum posts

Kings AND Sequoia are backpacker's parks. Kings Canyon NP has only one road that dead ends into it and one significant trail north (in altitude gain) and several trails that take off from up river a bit. It is not what most would call a 'destination' goal - its more of a kick off to spectacular stuff way back in the park. The Sphynx and Avalanche Pass trail is a long loop back to your car but not that spectacular - just a long walk.

Sequoia the twin park, has a road that skirts the western end just enough to allow most who want, a look at some big trees. Even from the west side of Sequoia there are only a couple of trails that get you into the 'back country' - few provide short loops as the approach to a pass is a lot of work at lower altitude.

You could make a good lollypop out of the start of the High Sierra Trail at Giant Forest to Bearpaw as a base camp and then visit, Hamilton Lakes, Elizabeth Pass and Tamarack as day trips then return to your car when you get too jaded by the scenery. It is a bit 'touristy' as it includes a sort of and expensive bed and breakfast at Bearpaw...the good thing is they have cold beer and a heck of a view from the bar.


Mineral King the good looking sister of the SEKI twins has several passes that lead to the Kern 'ditch' with scenery starting from the hubcaps in the parking lot. Four day loop out of Sawtooth to 5 Lakes and return via Black Rock and and Timber Gap is spectacular and tough. Beware the marmots - I've been told.


A longer loop, that puts Sequoia and Mineral King together, would be from Crescent Meadow in Sequoia to Bearpaw over Kaweah Gap to 9 Lakes Basin down to the top of the Arroya to Little Five Lakes over Black Rock Pass then back to Bearpaw and your car - 5/6 days.


The eastern Sierra up US-395 from Lone Pine north has a number of accesses into the National Parks to the west, usually just over a pass that is within a day's tramping. This then puts you on the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails (PCT/JMT). The scenery is terrific and the reason why these two trails are in the eastern Sierra instead of on the west side. There are a few strenuous loops and a lot of lollypops. Lone Pine is about 4-5 hours from LA (3 hours closer than western Sierra). All of the following start you at trailheads that are above 9,000' and get you into the high Sierra quickly. For example:

Lone Pine: Horseshoe Meadow trail head (at 10,000') to Cottonwood Lakes then over either New or Old Army Pass into Sequoia to visit the Mitre area above Soldier Lakes and day hike up to Sky Blue and look over Crabtree Pass at Whitney. Return via a part of the Pacific Crest Trail to Cottonwood Pass to the south. You can pick off Mt Langley on the way.


Independence: Onion Valley (9,200') over Kearsarge Pass to K. Lakes for late lunch then perhaps north past Charlotte Lake to Glen Pass and Rae Lakes and return.


You can make a strenuous 4-5 day loop from Kearsarge Pass pick up the PCT/JMT to Vidette Meadows, to Forester Pass then exit up Tyndall Creek and out over Shepherd Pass down to Symmes Creek and 3 mile hike to the Onion Valley road with a short hitch up to your car. Gives you a chance at Tyndall and Williamson (when in season) on your way over Shepherd Pass.


You can also connect a 5 day car shuttle between Horseshoe Meadow and Onion Valley visiting the back side of Whitney. A longer more ambitious shuttle would be in/out at Bishop Pass or Mammoth.

Big Pine (into Kings Canyon): To Glacier Lodge and then into Big Pine Lakes at the base of a string of 14,000' peaks including the largest glacier (don't laugh) in California - Pallisade Glacier.


Bishop (into Kings Canyon) : Up past Parchers Camp to South Lake (9800) and south to Bishop Pass and Dusy Basin and if you want more excitement the back side of the mountains in previous trip, via Knapsack Pass.


You can make a popular loop from South to North Lake (via Bishop Pass). About 5 days.

These are trail heads within about 5 hours of LA. Pick one you might be interested in and I'm sure you can get a few people to quip in about it.

June 21, 2018
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