3 Days in Sequoia National Park over Memorial Day Weekend.
We stayed at the Potwisha campground. It’s not the prettiest of campsites, and it’s in the foothills, meaning it’s about a thirty to forty-five minute drive to the Giant Forest Museum. We stayed at campsite 6. We looked around for future reference and sites 7, 9, and 10 had better set ups. You can walk across the road to the Kaweah River. There were people in a swimming hole up river, but the water was fast and we didn’t get in. There were quite a few people running it on kayaks.
My friends and I left early Saturday morning and drove from the Bay Area. We stopped at a fruit stand in Gilroy and picked up some garlic ice cream. It’s really something you only need to try once. We reached Sequoia National Park around noon. There was a long line of cars waiting to get in at the entrance. Entrance fee as of summer 2016 is set at $30 per vehicle. Do yourself a favor and purchase a National Parks Pass for $80. It pays for itself in 2-3 visits, plus you get other perks such as discounts on campgrounds.
After getting settled at our campsite, we started up the winding road to the Giant Forest. Warning for those who have motion sickness, the road is extremely loopy. Our first stop was the grand daddy of them all, the General Sherman Tree. During Memorial Day Weekend, only shuttles were allowed at the trailheads during certain times of the day. It was late enough that we were able to park in the upper lot. From the lot it’s about an easy 1/2 mile to the General Sherman.
We had originally planned for a longer hike this day, but traffic and crowds made us adjust our plans. We parked in a small lot just south of the Giant Forest Museum. We crossed the road and climbed up the hill until we reached the trail. It led us all the way to Moro Rock. The other option would have been to wait at the Giant Forest Museum for a shuttle to take us to Moro Rock.
The hike is pretty beautiful with lots of giant trees and many stops for views. We even saw a black bear! I didn’t notice it until one our buddies stopped dead in his tracks. We tried to take photos, but we were backing away slowly and didn’t get any good shots. We weren’t quite sure how big black bears got, and I thought the one we saw was fairly small. Because of its size, we thought that it was a cub and that the mama bear was somewhere around. The bear didn’t pay much attention to us and eventually left in the opposite direction. Phew!
Once we reached Moro Rock, we ran into a crowd. The trail up the Moro Rock itself climbs about 300 feet in .6 miles, so the stairs can be a bit daunting for some people. For me, it was the heights. You definitely have to be a bit more on the brave side to climb up. There were quite a few people freezing from fear, me included.
From Moro Rock, we continued on to Log Tunnel. We missed the shuttle from there, so we kept hiking to Crescent Meadow. We took our time and didn’t really rush the hike. It was all our first time at the park, and we wanted to soak at in. We had a lot of fun watching the elk in the meadows and stopped at the Chimney Tree. We eventually made it back to the Giant Forest Museum, and we took the trail the followed the highway back down to our car.
Overall this was a pretty exciting day and a really good easy-moderate hike. Definitely got an adrenaline rush in the beginning from the black bear and the heights at Moro Rock. But from once we got to the meadow it was pretty peaceful. We ended the day by hanging out by the Kaweah River near our camp.
On our last day, we definitely saved the best for last, Topokah Falls. The trailhead starts at the Lodgepole campground, which is extremely beautiful. They had sites right along the river! I’m not sure how far in advance this campground books up, but I’d like to camp there in the future. It’s an easy 1.7 mile climb up to the falls. Lots of nice scenery. Plenty of hikers, but it didn’t feel crowded at all. Once we got to the falls, a marmot was there to greet us! Its friends were shy, but this guy seemed to love the attention. Again, probably shouldn’t need to remind anyone, but don’t feed the animals!
We climbed down to the bottom of the falls and ate on giant slab of granite before heading back down the trail. Topokah Falls is definitely a must see for your first visit at Sequoia National Parks. On our way back home, we stopped in King’s Canyon National Park to visit the General Grant Tree.