Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park border each other in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Most places you look will often lump the two parks together but I have listed the best hikes in Kings Canyon separately for your convenience. Glacier carved, some of the world’s tallest trees are found in this valley and the hiking trails around them make for an enjoyable and adventurous time. Official Website.
I’m going to go against what the title says as this is definitely not a day hike. However, it is easily the best hike in Kings Canyon and one that should not be passed up if you have the time and the ability. Rae Lakes is considered the best backpacking trail in the Sierras showing hikers what this beautiful area of the country has to offer. The trailhead is located at the parking area at the end of CA-180. It is suggested to tackle the loop counterclockwise.
- 41.4 miles – Loop
- 6950′ gain
2. Mist Falls
If you don’t have time to complete the entire Rae Lakes Loop, you should at least hit up Mist Falls Trail. By itself, this is one of the best hikes in Kings Canyon, taking visitors to the 100′ waterfall. The trailhead is the same as Rae Lakes Loop at the end of CA-180.
- 7.6 miles – Out and back
- 700′ gain
Combining the Hart Tree and Sugar Bowl Trails, this loop travels around the largest intact grove of giant sequoias in the world. Hikers will see several signs of past wildfires in the area as they complete the loop – showing sequoia’s ability to withstand virtually anything. The trailhead is 6 miles from Giant Grove off of a small dirt road.
- 9.9 miles – Loop
- 1900′ gain
2 miles from the trailhead, hikers will reach the high point (8209′) of the trail and the best 360 degree views over looking Redwood Canyon. The trail continues on a little farther but the 2 mile point makes a good place to head back the way you came. The trailhead is 8 miles down Generals Highway from Giant Grove.
- 4.0 miles – Out and back
- 600′ gain
The trail goes past granite walls to scenic meadows. A bridge crossing Kings River will get you to the gorgeous Zumwalt Meadows. The trailhead is 4.5 miles east of Cedar Grove Village Road.
- 1.5 miles – Loop
- 100′ gain
Short and easy trail to a great overlook of the Redwood Mountain Grove. The trailhead is at a turnoff on Generals Highway.
- 1.8 miles – Out and back
- 300′ gain