6 Best Hikes in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park Overview

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 National Park 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.

Nearest Metro AreaFresno, CA
Area Size461,901 acres
EstablishedOctober 1, 1890
Hiking Trails800+ miles
(combined with Sequoia NP)

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Kings Canyon National Park

Rae Lakes Loop
Fin Dome
Fin Dome over Rae Lakes, Photo by Jeff P

The Rae Lakes Loop is easily one of the best hikes in Kings Canyon National Park 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 mile loop
  • 6950′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Mist Falls
Kings Canyon National Park, California
Enjoying Mist Falls on a cool, cloudy spring day, Photo by Blake Carroll

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′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Redwood Canyon Loop
Sequoia & Kings Canyon
Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Photo by Jeff Gunn

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 mile loop
  • 1900′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Big Baldy Ridge Trail
Big Baldy
Big Baldy, Photo by David Fulmer

2 miles from the trailhead, hikers will reach the high point (8209′) of the trail and the best 360 degree views overlooking 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′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Zumwalt Meadows Loop
Zumwalt Meadow, Kings Canyon National Park
​​Zumwalt Meadow, Kings Canyon National Park, Photo by Ray Bouknight

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 mile loop
  • 100′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Buena Vista Peak 
Top of the Buena Vista Peak
Top of the Buena Vista Peak, Photo by Gnaphron

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′ elevation gain
  • Easy

Featured Image: Things Are Looking Up, Photo by Anita Ritenour

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