Wander among some of the most magical ancient giants while hiking Sequoia National Park!
Located at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, Sequoia National Park is a must-see outdoor destination!
Otherworldly in appearance, this picturesque national park has many hiking trails, scenic rivers, alpine lakes, and mountain views.
There’s so much to see in Sequoia, so lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to explore all the best hiking trails in Sequoia National Park!
Best Hikes in Sequoia National Park
Hospital Rock to Potwisha
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Distance: 4.9 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 987 feet
This is the perfect Sequoia National Park hike to do in the springtime before the heat of summer settles into the foothills!
Begin this hike at the Hospital Rock Picnic Area, where there is plenty of parking. Then, use the crosswalk to get to the tail on the other side of Generals Highway. Hospital Rock is at the beginning of the trail.
This is a sacred Native American site, so please be respectful and do not touch or take anything from the park (frankly, you shouldn’t do that anywhere in the park, but especially not here) or mark or vandalize the petroglyphs.
The site is special to the Mono (Monache), Yokuts, and the Tubatulabal tribes, all of whom once lived on the land that is now Sequoia National Park. As with many of our beautiful national parks, there is a sad truth behind it: the removal of Native people from the land.
As you hike, you’ll see many points that tell the story of the long Native history on this land. Notice the bowl-shaped carvings in the stone? These were created over many years of grinding acorns for cooking in a pestle and mortar fashion. This location is also home to a beautiful panel of Native-drawn pictographs.
The trail then continues down to the Kaweah River. This is a popular swimming access trail. However, the snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains makes swimming here very dangerous during high water. Use your best judgment and be safe!
Follow the trail along the river. The trail will eventually connect to the Potwisha Campground Overflow Parking. Here, you can turn back to the trailhead. It is an option to park a second car in the overflow lot for a shuttle, but be aware that entrance fees to the park are charged per car.
Crystal Cave Trail
Distance: 0.8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 291 feet
Escape the heat of summer and hide out on the Crystal Cave Trail for the afternoon. The Crystal Cave parking area is at the end of Crystal Cave Road. The turn for this road is about 8 miles from the Hospital Rock Picnic Area on Generals Highway.
Crystal Cave isn’t like most national park hikes, but rather, it is a fun guided excursion to go caving in one of Sequoia’s many natural caverns.
Since this is a guided trip and visitors are not allowed to tour the cave alone, you must make reservations. Book your tickets to tour Crystal Cave at least 48 hours in advance to save your spot (you can book online here).
The tour lasts about 45-minutes and guides guests along a fascinating loop that requires less than a mile of walking. Along the trail in Crystal Cave, which is one of the park’s many marble karst caves, you will encounter magnificent stalactites and mounds of stalagmites!
Don’t worry about bringing a flashlight, you will be provided one before entering the cave. Just remember to dress for the outdoors and bring an extra layer to keep you warm.
Moro Rock Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 187 feet
The Moro Rock Trail is a favorite of locals and visitors alike! The trailhead is on the Crescent Meadow Road. There isn’t much parking here, and during the busy season, hikers must use the shuttle bus to access the trailhead.
You’ve probably spotted the iconic granite face of Moro Rock standing proud above the foothills at 6,725’. You don’t need to be an accomplished climber to get on top because the NPS has laid 350 steps to make it an easily accessible lookout!
However, this may not be the best hike in Sequoia National Park for folks with a fear of heights or exposure. Although the viewpoint is fenced in, it may trigger sensations of discomfort for some.
However, if you’re able to make the short quarter-mile hike up, you’ll be generously rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain landscape!
Try to time this hike for the morning or even for sunset (bring a headlamp if visiting at sunset to make the hike down safer).
Not only will the trail be a little less trafficked, but you won’t have to bake as intensely under the hot California sun!
Crescent Meadow Loop Trail
Distance: 1.7 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 157 feet
The loop around Crescent Meadow is usually approached from the trailhead at the end of the Crescent Meadow Road.
Like the trail to Moro Rock, this trailhead can only be accessed by shuttle bus at certain times during the busy season. If visiting Sequoia in winter, though, this won’t be a problem!
This 1.7-mile loop begins by leading hikers past a number of magnificent sequoia trees. There are plenty of opportunities in the park to get a closer look at some of the giant trees, so please remember to stay on the designated trail here.
Once you have arrived at Crescent Meadow, you have entered prime bear and deer grazing territory. Along the trail, you’ll also pass by Tharp’s log, which is a fallen Sequoia converted into a cozy woodland cabin!
With little elevation gain and mostly even terrain, this Sequoia National Park hiking trail is perfect for those who are new to hiking or out with a group of younger explorers.
Big Trees Trail
Distance: 1.3 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 114 feet
After a history brief from the Giant Forest Museum, you’re ready for the world-famous Big Trees Trail. This scenic hiking loop is a little over a mile long and provides a wonderfully relaxing escape into nature. Hikers of all levels will love this trail, as it’s one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park.
The scenic trail features interesting interpretive displays as well as ample opportunities to get an up-close look at the sequoia trees. If you enjoy bird watching, this is a perfect place for front country viewing!
To explore the Big Trees Trail, you can park in the large parking area across from the Giant Forest Museum. You can even leave your car here for the day if you plan to use the shuttle bus to access other trailheads.
Distance: 0.5 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 18 feet
One of the best sunrise views in Sequoia National Park is from Beetle Rock. And the best part is, the trail is easy enough for all experience levels!
The paved trail begins at the large parking area across from the Giant Forest Museum. Although it is paved, taking a stroller may be a bit challenging due to large cracks and other damage to the pavement.
Follow the path to the amazing rock formations. This is a perfect place for kids and adults alike to climb around on the rocks and explore! This trail is great to do in addition to the Big Trees Trail since they are nearby each other.
Distance: 1 mile
Total Elevation Gain: 164 feet
If you’re coming to explore Sequoia National Park, you need to make time to visit the General Sherman Tree!
The trail does have a short steep section that may be challenging for some who aren’t used to hiking at high elevations. If you can brave the hill back up to the parking area, it’s worth the short slog to see the biggest tree in the world!
The General Sherman Tree stands at an impressive height of 275 feet with a diameter of nearly 37 feet around! You will feel like an ant next to this monster and look kind of like one in your photos, too!
To get to the parking area, head north on Generals Highway. Take a right onto Wolverton Road and follow the helpful signs to General Sherman. The parking area can fill up quickly during the summertime, so it might be beneficial to hop on the park’s shuttle bus instead of scouting for a parking spot!
Distance: 3.3 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 495 feet
The Congress Trail is one of the many scenic trails through the Giant Forest. Begin this trail at the General Sherman Tree, and follow signs to continue onto the Congress Trail.
This easy 3-mile loop will bring you deep into the Giant Forest while guiding you past the towering McKinley Tree and General Lee Tree. The loop will end back at the General Sherman Tree, where you can continue back to the parking area.
Distance: 3.8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 639 feet
Who doesn’t love a beautiful waterfall hike?
Tokopah Falls is a cascading waterfall in the Lodgepole Area of the park. The best time to see this waterfall is the springtime or early summer. Once the summer heat peaks, the waterfall historically dries up to almost a trickle.
The moderate 4-mile out and back Tokopah Valley Trail to the falls begins at the Lodgepole Parking Area. The trail hugs the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River before arriving at the beautiful 1,200 ft falls that cascade over the impressive granite walls.
Distance: 3.3 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 793 feet
If you love wildflowers and mountain views, you will also love an early-summer trek up to the summit of Little Baldy. From the top, you will be rewarded with epic views of the Western Divide with colorful wildflowers guiding you the whole way there!
The Little Baldy Trail is a popular 3.3-mile out and back hike that will take about 2 hours to complete.
If you want a little more of a challenge, the Big Baldy Ridge Trail is 5.5 miles round trip and includes 1,391 feet of elevation gain.
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Emily is a freelance travel and outdoor recreation writer from Big Sky, Montana. Her adventurous spirit has led her to the high peaks of the Sierras and the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48. When she’s not writing, Emily can be found backpacking, road tripping to outdoor destinations, climbing, or rowing whitewater.