Copper Creek Trail, Kings Canyon National Park

Distance: 9 miles (14 km) one way
Elevation: 5,000 - 10,700 ft.
Difficulty: Strenuous
Time: 2-4 days round trip (not including stops for rest or picture taking)

Vast mountain vistas, pristine alpine lakes, a relentless aerobic workout, and remote wilderness solitude await hikers of the Copper Creek Trail in Kings Canyon National Park. In the first seven miles, the trail climbs almost 5,350 feet along Copper Creek before surmounting a lateral moraine and descending into beautiful Granite Basin, a gently sloping bowl full of scenic tarns and wildflower-bedecked meadows. 

The trail starts on the north side of the overnight parking area at Roads End in Kings Canyon. After a set of sandy switchbacks up an open hillside with nice views of Grand Sentinel, the trail settles into a steady climb along Copper Creek. Four miles from the trailhead, hikers pass Lower Tent Meadow—the first and only real campsites before Granite Basin. After three more miles of steep trail, hikers surmount the lateral moraine and descend to Granite Basin. Campers will need to leave the trail here to find camping. Those headed further continue along the trail as it skirts Granite Basin and begins the steep climb to Granite Pass. 

Hikers will be tempted to stop at the top of the pass for beautiful views south over Granite Basin to the Great Western Divide and north to the remote Middle Fork Canyon and Goddard Divide beyond. The reward for 10 miles of relentless climbing spreads out ahead—almost limitless choices for cross-country travel or peaceful camping near lightly visited alpine lakes.

For more information, contact the Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP Wilderness Office: Phone (559) 565-3766, Fax (559) 565-4239, E-mail SEKI_Wilderness_Office@nps.gov.

Help us keep this place beautiful. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints. Please pack out your trash.

Know the Bear Facts! Whether staying in the picnic area or going for a longer hike, always store food away from bears. Use large, brown bear-proof boxes to store food and scented items. Never leave food or scented items unattended.

Be Safe! Bring plenty of drinking water and snacks/lunch. Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction, as well as long pants (due to ticks and poison oak). Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring insect repellent.

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Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 36.79224 Longitude: -118.600845 Elevation: 5030 ft

Vertical Gain or Loss

Over 5,000 feet.

Trail Distance

9 miles (14 km) one way.

Eco-Friendly Notes

This trail traverses land managed as wilderness where natural processes are allowed to unfold. Please use Leave No Trace principles when hiking this trail.

ADA Accessibility Notes

This is a dirt trail, which is narrow and winding. It may be steep, slippery, wet, and rocky in some areas and will not accommodate wheelchairs, strollers, or bicycles.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are not permitted on any trails within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, but are allowed 100 feet from roads in developed areas (picnic areas, campgrounds, and roads). Where allowed, pets must be on leashes no longer than 6 feet in length. Never leave pets in cars when it is warm, or they overheat quickly. Pets must not be left unattended in the parking area or in vehicles.

Comments

I've gone on this trail several times and it is a spectacular hike. But it is not for the faint of heart...as described, it is strenuous. Hiking to Granite Lake "can" be done in 1 day, but you need to leave very early and it helps to be in very good shape. Otherwise, 2 days is very doable. There are plenty of spots on the trail to refill water after getting past the initial valley facing switchbacks so don't be conservative with your water intake. Also, it's advised to acclimate for a day or two to the base elevation as this trail takes you up high fairly quickly. Enjoy it!

Robert Hartung, 3/2/2013

I hiked this trail in my late teens. I'm 51 now. Not sure what memory bank activated which prompted me to search for this trail tonight. Here's to youth and absolutely gorgeous memories. Enjoy your hike, should you select the Copper Creek Trail for your next adventure!

Gloriana Hunter, 1/20/2015

Hiked this trail in my 20's with my dad, who was 60. I'm now 66 and would not think of trying it. Made it to Lower Tent Meadow the first day and camped under the trees at the top of a rise above the meadow. Others camped down in the meadow, and had a soggy awakening when water rose up through the sod after dark! Up around Granite Pass we turned left cross country and descended into a place called Volcanic Lakes. I highly recommend it.

Ed Fowler, 8/6/2015

Hiked the "Death March" with my wife a few years back. Death March is what the ranger called it when he asked why we would want to go up there. I can say Granite Basin and the cross country travel we embarked on for 3 days provided some of the best, remote Sierra travel I've ever enjoyed. On our x-country journey, we went 2 days without seeing a human footprint, let alone another human! just awesome. My wife and I are marathoners and avid MTB riders, so the Death March wasn't too bad. But relative to many other on-trail climbs, I rate it as one of the hardest I've done in the Sierras. Also, the ranger said there were no bears around. We saw a mom and her two cubs, one very blonde, just past Lower Tent Meadows, 100 yards up the trail. Mom eyed us as the two cubs clawed for grubs in the downed timber. We hiked out 16 miles our last day, and coming down, as is often the case, was hard on the legs, harder than going up. So take your time if you go.

Dave H. , 3/21/2016

Just finished the loop....and the first day is brutal! From Road's End to Granite Lake, it's a very tough 5000 gain of vertical. We started late (10AM) and it was close to 90 at the valley floor. Relentless sun. By the time we got to the lake, everyone was spent, and dehydrated. But the it's beautiful, and after some cross country to additional high lakes, we were rewarded with some beautiful alpine solitude. Advice, break up the first 10 miles and stop at Lower Tent Meadows, or start early!

Joe Croft, 7/31/2016

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