A few of the peaks along the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon Park

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park is one of the world's premier backpacking destinations. In fact, the vast majority of the park is accessible only on foot or horseback. For this reason, most of the park is not spoiled with human "improvements." It's easy to hike out on a trail, take a detour, go cross-country and find yourself in a place where you could easily imagine you were the first human to ever set foot. Bring your camera. It's pretty hard to take a bad picture in this wonderland.

Since just getting to the best campsites here requires more dedication than at most national parks, you'll be more appreciative of the wonders to be seen along the way—once you've hiked the miles, carried the packs, suffered the blisters, fought with the mosquitos and chased off the bears. Yes, I did say, "chase off the bears." It is the duty of every visitor to the park to safely secure all foodstuffs (and potential foodstuffs such as perfume, toothpaste, makeup) from wildlife, especially bears.

For these reasons bear containers are required for all campers or backpackers. It is pretty much impossible for a bear to open the park's standard-issue container. If an animal does become interested in any of your belongings, staff at the park have suggested that you throw rocks, yell, or bang pots and pans to scare the animal away. The rangers are not so much concerned about your food as they are about the welfare of the animals because a bear that learns that he can get easy meals from humans soon becomes aggressive and threatening and ultimately will have to be destroyed. In the case of bears, familiarity does breed contempt. We rented a couple of bear containers at the Cedar Grove Visitor Center but took them back after we found the same container for less money at the ranger station at Road's End. The Garcia bear resistant container at right (Garcia Machine model 812) is 8.8" diameter and 12" high and is 2.7 lbs. You can buy them at various outdoor goods stores such as Backcountry Store (I've also seen them at REI) for $75. They also serve as a more-comfortable-than-a-rock stool. We used the container for doing our laundry as well.

Bear Container

You'll probably want to check out the giant sequoias while visiting the park. Two of the largest trees in the world inhabit the park, the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon and the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. General Sherman (formerly known as the Karl Marx Tree by the utopian Kaweah Colony in the 1880's) is considered to be the most massive single organism in the world.

Here is a map that might be of some help. To get to the most popular point of departure for backpacking in Kings Canyon, take Hwy 180 west from Fresno to Roads End. There you must sign-out with a ranger before starting your backpacking trip. Any use other than day-use requires a reservation (call the number listed below). You can take a chance and hope to get one of the 5 available spots for backpacking allotted each day. Portable bear containers are required for storage of food and scented items and can be rented at the ranger station for a nominal fee. For more information see the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park website.   Since both the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail pass through the park, you may also wish to check out the Pacific Crest Trail Association website.

For more information call: (559) 565-3708

New Inyo NF - John Muir Wilderness - Kings Canyon trip of 2007 Google Earth kmz file

Click on the map icon at the right to view a topographic map of Rae Lakes loop. The map has camera icons of places where pictures were taken while on a backpacking trip in July and August of 2001.
If you have the Topo!™ Sequoia- Kings Canyon from Nation Geographic Maps you'll be able to use these waypoints and this map (right-click and save to disk). Should be useful to backpackers planning a trip to the park.


Note: Topo! is a registered trademark of National Geographic Maps