National Parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon, California

This dramatic landscape testifies to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity — huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees. These two parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada east of the San Joaquin Valley.

The parks are most famous for their giant sequoia trees, including Sequoia’s General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth, and King Canyon’s General Grant tree. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. Many park visitors enter Sequoia National Park through its southern entrance near the town of Three Rivers. From here, visitors can drive through Sequoia National Park (including the Giant Forest) on the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park. Weather varies a lot by season and elevation, which ranges from 1,370′ to 14,494′. Check the weather and elevation on your route and plan accordingly.

Park Map

Roaring Rivers to Zumwalt Meadows Loop (Kings Canyon)
2.1 mile loop Start: The Roads EndTrailhead 

Zumwalt Meadows and the River Trail provide a rare relatively flat trail running opportunity. Starting at Roads End Parking Area, take the Woods Creek Trail over the bridge where it meets the River Trail. Turn right onto the River Trail until you hit Zumwalt Meadows. Zumwalt Meadow is the most scenic parts of the Kings Canyon valley floor. Enjoy the lush and green woods along with the dramatic granite canyon walls. A one-and-a-half mile loop circles the meadow. The trail is well-packed dirt, rock and boardwalk. After this loop continue back the way you came for the 2.1 mile loop. For a longer run, continue on the River Trail for another 1.4 miles of well maintained trail.

Crescent Meadow Trail, Sequoia National Park
1.6 mile loop Start: Crescent Meadow Parking Area   Park MAP

Image Source: http://www.kaweahcommonwealth.com/
The Giant Forest is not to be missed in Sequoia National Park. Crescent Meadow offers an easy trail run in The Giant Forest, with views of Tharp’s Log and the Chimney Tree. The main 1.6 mile loop is a combination of paved and well packed dirt. From the trailhead at Crescent Meadow Parking Area, the path is shared with the High Sierra Trail. When the trail splits, just after a pair of footbridges, take the trail to the left. After running along the southern edge of the Crescent Meadow, the trail will come to a junction. Follow the trail to the right. As you continue you will pass beneath several giant sequoias before arriving at another meadow, Log Meadow, and the one time habitation of Hale Tharp. Beyond Tharp’s log, turn left toward Chimney Tree and Crescent Meadow. As you meander through this part of the forest, keep your eyes peeled for woodland creatures along the trail. The Chimney Tree is just off the trail on a well-marked path. Step inside this standing burnt out Sequoia for a unique perspective on these enormous trees. Feel free to complete this loop more than once for a longer workout. Also, be aware this accessible trail attracts quite a few visitors. It is best to time your run in the morning and evening to avoid crowds.

Note: Crescent Meadow Road is closed from 9am to late afternoon during weekends. You must take the shuttle to the trailhead during these times.

Crescent Meadow Road

5.8 mile out-and-back Start: Moro Rock Shuttle Stop  MAP 

Because Crescent Meadow Road is closed from 9am to late afternoon during weekends, it makes a great place to run! Take the shuttle bus to Moro Rock and begin your run here. Enjoy the scenic road through the towering trees in the Giant Forest without worrying about traffic (except for the shuttle bus). Run out to the Crescent Meadows Trailhead and turn around to head to the Giant Forest Museum. Note that there is not a wide shoulder, however when the road is closed only shuttle buses are allowed and respectfully pass with ample space. After you return to the start, check out Moro Rock. Climb up the 400 steps fitted into Moro Rock for a panoramic view of the high Sierras and a great spot for a post run stretch.

High Sierra Trail

For a more challenging and rugged experience in the Crescent Meadow area, the High Sierra Trail out of Crescent Meadow offers a scenic, gradual climbing out-and-back trail. It starts in the famous Giant Sequoias of the area, and traverses canyon walls. It is 11 miles to Bearpaw Meadow at 11 miles, or 15 miles to Hamilton Lake!

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