tldr; tall trees.
After work on Friday we made our way to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, where we would spend the weekend. About halfway through the drive, we took a dinner break in Fresno and excitedly awaited a phone call from back home where we knew my little brother, Nate, was proposing to his girlfriend. They’d had a hectic evening in Austin with major thunderstorms rolling in right when he was planning to propose so he’d had to make many last minute changes. Finally, we got the call from Nate and his new fiancé, Jo. We told them congrats and then let them go back to their celebration surrounded by friends and the rest of the family.
Missing family but excited for Nate and Jo and for our weekend, we drove the rest of the way to Kings Canyon National Park. We arrived just before it got dark and headed straight to Grant Grove, a grove of massive sequoias. One of the trees had hollowed out and fallen, making a huge tunnel that we walked through. There were just a few people there and we got to wander among the giant trees in near-silence as it got darker and darker. Once it got too dark to explore any more, we hopped back in the van and drove just outside of the national park (where you aren’t allowed to sleep unless you’re at a designated campsite) to the neighboring national forest, which is much friendlier to campers. After a short drive on a windy road, we found a quiet pull-out and settled in for the night.
The next morning, we woke to find that our parking spot had an incredible panoramic view of Kings Canyon. We soaked in the view for a moment and then headed to our first destination of the day, Mist Falls. The hike to Mist Falls was 8 easy miles of mostly flat hiking through groves of sequoias and pine trees until we got to the huge waterfall at the end, misting down on all of us hikers. We pressed on a bit further to a great viewpoint of the canyon below.
After Mist Falls, we drove to two more incredible waterfalls just off the road, Roaring River and Grizzly Falls. We loved visiting all three of these beautiful waterfalls, which were flowing quickly from all of the spring snowmelt. We ate our lunch of peanut butter and honey sandwiches near Roaring River Falls and then took some time to rest up after checking out Grizzly Falls. We spent the evening camped at another national forest spot a bit closer to Sequoia National Park, which we would be exploring the next day.
We woke up early to drive into Sequoia National Park and kicked off our day with yet another waterfall hike. This hike was a bit shorter and took us through a forest and then along a rockier trail to Tokopah Falls, a huge waterfall cascading down from a cliff face high above us. We first got a glimpse of the falls from pretty far away and it was fun to hear the water get louder and see the waterfall get bigger the closer we hiked. After Tokopah Falls, we headed back to the van for pancakes, a perfect Sunday morning. Full from our pancakes, we hiked up through a forest to a nice meadow. We could just picture a bear or some other creature popping out from the long grass.
After our morning hikes we drove to General Sherman tree, the largest known tree by volume, estimated to be 2,300 to 2,700 years old. With an easily accessible path, this grove of giant sequoias was very popular and we gawked up at the huge trees as kids scrambled over roots and through hollowed out trunks and people lined up to pose for pictures.
The giant tree was a great way to end our weekend in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and we headed out refreshed. The drive out of the park was much longer and slower than our drive in, as we slowly wound our way down from an elevation of 7,000ft all the way down to 233ft as we made our way out of the park and to San Luis Obispo, where we would stay the night.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, we love your huge trees, your canyon views, and your waterfall-filled hikes. Along We Go!