Best Hiking Trails in Sequoia National Forest

South of Yosemite is a vast protected forest, named for majestic Sequoia trees and sometimes called the "Land of Giants." For those who want to dodge the hordes trying to snap that perfect shot of Half Dome, driving south to Sequoia is a way to escape the beaten trails.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest is a protected forest. It is not a National Park (though Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon lie just north of the Forest).  Sequoia National Forest is managed by the forest service, and its total land area is over a million acres including the 353,000 acre Giant Sequoia National Monument, which is home to 33 groves of Giant Sequoia.

Sequoia National Forest is home to peaks reaching over 12,000 feet. With old growth forests and high mountain trails, Sequoia National Forest has something for every hiker.

Trail of 100 Giants

If you don't have much time, or have somebody with you who can't walk a long way, the 1.3 mile paved loop that is the Trail of 100 Giants is your friend.

Although it tends to be busy, it contains some fantastic examples of sequoias, and because it's so busy, you can walk right up to the trees for some amazing photo ops. Check out the two "conjoined" sequoias that fell in 2011. Another large tree fell in the winter of 2018-2019, giving you a real sense of just how huge these giants are.

The trail is accessible summer only from the Western Divide Highway. There is a $5.00 per vehicle fee for parking, which helps maintain parking and restroom facilities.

History note: The Giant Sequoia National Monument was established on April 15, 2000, by President Clinton as he stood under one of these trees.

Weaver Lake

If you have all day and want to sample the wilderness, the 3.5 mile each way hike to Weaver Lake is a popular trail in the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. This is a moderate hike, with dogs allowed (not the case everywhere in the forest).

The lake is a perfect spot to have lunch (be aware that this is bear country and be very careful to pack out all of your food). A forest permit is required. There's a solid elevation change, but it's gentle enough not to need much, and the payoff is well worth it...a beautiful walk amongst a variety of trees including Lodgepole and Ponderosa pines, and a great view into Kings Canyon.

Fishers note: Trout fishing is very good at Weaver Lake. Make sure to follow the right trail at the split with the much longer Jennie Lake trail (this is not one most can do there and back in a day). This is an amazing way to get a taste of wilderness on a trail quiet enough to be peaceful, but trafficked enough that if you get into trouble somebody will be by to help.

Tokopah Falls

Take the trail head from the Lodgepole Campground for this beautiful 3.4 mile trail. It's another one that can be popular, but it's also quiet enough that you'll have a good chance of seeing some of the local residents. The trail runs to the 1,200 feet Tokopah Falls, where you can picnic by the rush of the water.

This trail is best for early in the season, as the falls tend to dry out as the summer progresses, although you'll still get views of towering granite cliffs, a place where you can imagine yourself on a journey to a magical world. The Watchtower monolith towers over the falls. Take your camera!

Tokopah Falls in the Sequoia National Forest

Big Baldy Ridge Trail

Big Baldy Ridge Trail lies along the border of Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Forest. 

The trail gains about 600 feet to reach its highest point at 8,209 feet, which can definitely cause you to feel the effects of altitude if you aren't used to it, so remember to breathe (yes, Coloradoans, feel free to go ahead and laugh).

This trail is exposed and there is a little bit of scrambling, but it's not a rock climb and is popular with families.  At the summit, you'll be able to appreciate the far reaching views of the High Sierras and the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.

Stop at mile 2 to take in the vista, or continue along the trail (just be careful because the trail isn't maintained as well past the summit and quickly deteriorates into class 2.  What awaits you is peak 8169 where you can get a different view of Little Baldy and take in Chimney Rock.

This is a tiny selection of the vast number of trails in Sequoia National Forest.  Get your free download of three more hikes within Sequoia National Forest by signing up for Rain Organica's newsletter.

Sources:

USDA Forest Service: Sequoia National Forest

Can't Miss Hikes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

 

Brandy Searcy founder Rain Organica

About the Author

Brandy's a formulation scientist and self-proclaimed health geek who loves hiking, gardening, bird-watching, and body boarding. 

Her struggle with acne during her teens and 20s led to a holistic and healthy approach to skincare, embracing skin as an organ to be loved and cared for rather than a canvas to wage war on. 

Since 2008, she's been developing all-in-one products for a simple routine at home, & Rain Organica started when her backpacking friends asked for a portable skincare routine to keep their skin healthy & happy on and off the trails.

You can try Rain Organica for yourself with The Essentials Kit, a complete skincare routine in just 3 steps.

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