In October, Zack and I decided to go for a little day trip up to Sequoia National Park. The weather throughout Southern California has *finally* seemed to cool down, so a day outside isn’t totally out of the question.
Now, Sequoia National Park is almost a stretch for a day trip, but if you’re up for it, it’s totally possible and worth it! Sharing our one day itinerary below plus a few tips and helpful things to know when planning your visit.
• The entrance fee is $35, valid for 7 days. You can also purchase online in advance.
• It’s essentially 2 parks in 1: Sequoia AND Kings Canyon, so if you plan a longer trip, be sure to work both into your plans. Maybe one day we will make it back to explore Kings Canyon and more of Sequoia.
• (Typically) Open 24/7/365 BUT weather and seasons can have a huge impact on what you can access within the park. The park was temporarily shut down due to COVID earlier this year, as well as from fires in September, so it’s always good to check online before you visit.
• Before you go: Using google maps, download the offline map to your phone. There is limited to no service in the park.
• Download the park’s app (search NPS Sequoia & Kings Canyon). Helpful for finding trails, facility info, and more. . .and works offline!
• Check the weather (snow, fire, etc).
• Get gas before entering the park – there are no service stations inside!
• Keep any food and coolers hidden in your car while day hiking, or use food storage boxes if available (because bears).
• If you’re reading this and there’s still a pandemic: Don’t forget to pack and wear your mask on busier trails/areas.
ONE DAY GUIDE
From Los Angeles: CA Highway 198 through Visalia and Three Rivers until you reach Ash Mountain Entrance (about 1 hour from US Highway 99). It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from LA to the entrance station.
FIRST STOP: MORO ROCK
Once you enter the park, drive another 45 minutes to Moro Rock. It may take longer if you decide to pull over and enjoy the many view points you’ll pass (including Moro Rock towering over the forest.)
There is an upper and lower parking lot for Moro Rock. Currently, no shuttles are running, so you can park in the upper lot (if it’s not full) or take the longer trail from the lower lot.
To reach the top or Moro Rock, you’ll have to climb up around 350 steps. At the high elevation, we found our lungs hurting more than our legs, but the view from the top was absolutely worth it. I’m sure on a clear day you can see incredibly far. There was still a good bit of lingering smoke from recent fires, but we were definitely not disappointed.
Located on Crescent Meadow Road, Tunnel Log is a 15-20 minute walk from Moro Rock (.75 miles one way). This giant fallen sequoia has a tunnel carved out that you can drive (or walk) through. It’s a fun photo op, and you’ll see many other giant sequoias on your walk.
We packed a picnic lunch which we enjoyed before heading to our next destination in the park. Make sure you put away all food, and discard of any trash properly!
GENERAL SHERMAN TREE
This giant. . .and i mean GIANT sequoia is the largest living organism ON EARTH. About a 10-15 minute drive from Moro Rock, you’ll find the main parking area and trailhead. It’s a half mile trail downhill to the tree. (Be prepared for the uphill climb back to the parking lot.)
CONGRESS LOOP TRAIL
This 3 mile round-trip loop starts near the General Sherman Tree. It’s a paved trail that takes you through many giant sequoias, including some notable clusters: the President, The House, and the Senate (hence the name “Congress Trail”).
You could easily squeeze in a few more short trails (we kept our itinerary light and it was so relaxing), or you could create your own plan that’s totally different. The park is HUGE. A weekend or longer would be ideal, but if a day is all you’ve got, then it’s totally doable.
We’re hoping to do more day and weekend trips this fall and winter. This weekend we’re heading out to Death Valley, but if you have any other suggestions of places near Los Angeles. please share!