If there was ever a time to get out on the open road and show your kids some adventure, now is the
time to do it! This is a Part 1 or a First Stop Recap of our epic family road trip to Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Park. Two places so filled with astounding natural beauty, you will be in shock and awe
everywhere you look. Maybe a little more so for the parents, but the kids were almost as equally
intrigued by their surroundings.
Sequoia National Park Recap
Things to remember right off the bat to ensure you all have just as much fun as we did. Be sure to bring
your sun screen, your bug repellent, lots of water, picnic lunches and your sea sick medication. If you
stay down at the base of the mountain in Three Rivers, it is a very windy road to the top of Sequoia
National Park. Additionally, there is no wifi at the top, so handle your business before you head out
for the day. Lastly, I highly suggest arriving to the park early. I am talking 7am early. Beat the crowds and
enjoy the views and trails without all the people. Note, I actually mention the trails in order of which
ones we did them, so this will help you gauge which trails are close to one another.
This is one of the first things you will see after entering the park. It is a quick stop. Pull your car over to
the right, jump out and snap your picture with the family. As you can see you can actually climb to the
top. There is a little trail to the left of the tunnel, which will provide access to the top of Tunnel Rock. I
suggest this one first because again you will end up waiting in a line to take a photo if you stop here mid-
Next quick hit, must take a photo is Tunnel Log. Again, stop here first thing in the morning and jump
out or climb on top or even drive your car through like we did. The car that came in after us said they
had to return the next day for a photo, because the line the prior afternoon was 30 cars deep. So plan
ahead and I promise you will love this super fun photo opp.
Moro Rock Trail
Our next early morning stop was to the top of lovely Moro Rock. Two great things about stopping here
early; one there are very few people and two it is cool outside to manage 350 concrete stairs straight
up. Don’t worry there are safety barriers everywhere, so you don’t have to worry about the little ones.
The views are magnificent the whole way up and picture worthy at every turn. Moro Rock is a dome
shaped granite monolith. It is only a 0.5 mile hike and worth every step.
Crescent Meadow (Tharp’s Lodge)
Once you are done with Moro Rock, head right over to Crescent Meadow. They are very close to one
another and completely opposite of one another too. This trail can be done in a loop on pavement, but I
suggest a little longer hike(only an extra mile) on dirt to check out Tharp’s Lodge. An old cabin built into
a giant fallen sequoia tree. We only saw one other person on this trail and it was lovely. But this trail is
most certainly in bear territory, so constantly be checking out your surroundings. The bears love to hang
out in the meadow and you will know why when you see it!
General Sherman Tree
Well you can’t come to Sequoia National Park without seeing the General Sherman Tree. The volume in
total wood makes this giant sequoia the largest living tree on earth and it is most certainly impressive at
275 feet tall and 2,200 years old. Strangely enough the top of the tree is no longer there, the park ranger
told us that it was struck by lightning many years ago. To see the General Sherman, you have to park at
the top of the trail and walk down a paved trail. It is only 0.5 in distance but my kids did not want to
walk back up this trail. Thankfully my husband went back to the top, got the car and came and picked us
up. To be honest, if he hadn’t I don’t think my kids would have made it on the last hike of the day to
Tokopah falls is located at the Lodgepole camp ground and was the perfect location for our lunch picnic.
Lots of shaded tables to eat up and get rejuvenated. Let me start by saying the map states that this trail
is 3.2 miles round trip. We think it was more like 4.0 miles round trip, but worth every step! The trail has
a steady grade up to the waterfall and many beautiful look out points along the river. It wasn’t an
overwhelmingly difficult trail, but we definitely had to keep our 7 year old motivated the entire hike. By
the time we finally got to the falls we were all in awe. Absolutely stunning granite mountains
surrounded us and a sweet little waterfall. I heard from other hikers that had been there before, that
the water level was very low for this time of year. But trust me, that didn’t stop us from taking off our
shoes and splashing around in the refreshingly cold water. Kids were jumping off the rocks into the
bottom swimming hole. We probably stayed there for about 30 minutes, taking it all in before we
headed back. We found a stunning swimming hole on our walk back that we stopped at and my son
even dunked himself to cool down. Trust me the water is cold, but worth it!
Day 2 (note, we spent the morning in Lake Kaweah and proceeded back up the mountain at
Big Trees Trail
It is a sweet 0.8 mile loop on pavement through the towering sequoias along the edges of Round
Meadow. There are benches along the route to sit and enjoy nature’s beauty. Once you finish the loop, head back
up towards the parking lot and cross the street at the marked cross walk to proceed to the next stop.
Giant Forest Museum
You will need to park across the street from the Giant Forest Museum to check out this gigantic beauty. It
is located in front of the Giant Forest Museum, which is unfortunately closed right now. But it is
certainly worth the walk across the street to the Sentinel Tree. Or the 43 rd largest tree in the
world! Note, we walked right back across the street into the parking lot toward the marked sign to head
out to Beetle Rock.
Easily accessible trail where you can park and walk right up the marked pathway. I would suggest
bringing your sunset picnic to this gorgeous location. They are all smooth flat rocks where the kids can
sit and enjoy the view. Make sure your phone is charged for these snap shots.
Moro Rock Trail
I know we already spoke about and visited Moro Rock the day before. But this crew LOVES a good sunset
lookout spot. We knew this was going to be another great place to take in the remainder of the daylight
while we wished Sequoia National Park goodbye.
Kings Canyon National Park Recap
Kings Canyon is a very different experience than Sequoia National Park. Just between us, I actually liked
Kings Canyon better. I wasn’t expecting that, but the park’s natural beauty is literally everywhere you
turn. We drove from the front of the park entrance, to the back of the park and hit almost every trail an
major point of attraction easily by car. So if you have smaller children that can’t do a long
hike or an elderly individual in the group, they will easily be able to see all the beauty and splendor this
National Park has to offer. We did a couple quick hit hikes towards the beginning of the park and then
we drove all the way to the end of the park and made our way back towards the front, stopping along
the way. The order of our stops are noted below.
General Grant Grove
As already stated, this is an easily accessible trail like the majority of them in the park. This is a completely paved
less than a half a mile loop. You get to see the 3 rd largest tree in the world during this stop. They also
have a carved out a giant sequoia tree that you can actually walk through. The kids really loved this stop.
Perfect second stop to give us the perfect vantage point to see the entire National Park. Also a paved
walk way, but it is straight up. Nothing too difficult for the little ones though. You can see it all from up
here. You can even see Hume Lake. Lots of great picture spots here!
This is a lovely 1.5 round trip meadow loop with loads of glorious beauty. You start by walking along this
lovely shallow wide river, then across an old suspension bridge and then into the forest before your eyes
descend upon this huge meadow. The meadow is surrounded by huge vertical granite cliffs.
Unfortunately the meadow is currently closed, as the lush brush in the meadow is way over head. We assume it is closed off due to the inability to be able to see any bears in the
meadow. This would be an ideal place for bears to roam and you would never see them coming. It is still
worth checking out though. We stopped at this wide sandy spot next to the river bank and the kids went
into the water to cool off.
Roaring River Falls
Park the car, walk a couple hundred yards and you will see a massive roaring waterfall. They clearly
named this one after the massive amount of water coming off the mountain side. There are rocks you can sit on
while you gaze at the wonder, although I wouldn’t suggest swimming here. There are signs everywhere
cautioning visitors about drowning. The water is moving very quickly here and I would suggest a quick
dip somewhere else in the park.
Despite the name, there are no grizzly bears drinking from the water at these waterfalls. Although I
think my kids were secretly hoping there would be. Another stop along the way, where you can park and
jump out to see another magnificent waterfall. I think this would be a great place to enjoy your picnic
lunch at the base of the falls. Lots of rocks to relax on in the shade, while the beautiful falls cascade
down behind you. Not a deep swimming spot here, but lovely nonetheless.
Last but not least, a magnificent lake surprise that we were not expecting. I had heard about Hume Lake,
but obviously never been and what a gem it is. When you head up there, there will be free parking
towards the left hand side of the lake. You can walk down to the lake shore and enjoy the lake to your
hearts content. I personally suggest that you go to the right side of the lake, towards the Christian
Camps sign. This will take you to a more populated side of the lake, but well worth it. On this side of the
lake you can rent stand up paddle boards, one person and two person kayaks. There is a long dock for
the kids to jump off of and swim back to shore. There is a snack shake to fill up on some tasty food and
even a cute shop to grab some local merchandise. Which as you can imagine we certainly did not leave
without some shirts. Our kids all rented kayaks and went out on the lake. They jumped in and out and in
and out all afternoon. Hume Lake was definitely a family highlight and worth the stop while visiting
Kings Canyon National Park.
Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments. Always here to help answer any
questions before you head out to one of these lovely destinations.