Don Cecil Trail, Kings Canyon National Park

Distance: 6 miles (10 km) one way
Elevation: 4,600 - 10,800 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 4-7 hours round trip (not including stops for rest or picture taking)

Breathtaking canyon views, a pretty mountain cascade, peaceful forest hiking, and a good aerobic workout await hikers of the Don Cecil Trail in Kings Canyon National Park. In six miles the trail climbs nearly 4,000 feet to Lookout Peak. Before the completion of spectacular CA Highway 180 in 1939, the main route into Kings Canyon was from the southwest, through the sequoia forests then down the Don Cecil Trail. Originally used by shepherds, cattle ranchers and early explorers like John Muir, the trail today provides hikers with access to cool forested ravines and scenic views of the canyon.

The trail starts in the Sentinel Campground near the Cedar Grove Ranger Station Amphitheater. After an easy climb through open forest of pine and incense cedar, the trail winds up a hill with good views of Monarch Divide across the canyon. The view doesn't last long, as the path descends into taller trees growing around Sheep Creek ravine, and crosses the stream on a footbridge. The creek cascades down the hillside over a series of pools and waterfalls. The flow of water is impressive in spring and early summer. At other times, the flow shrinks to a trickle. Beyond the falls, the lesser-used path zig-zags up a ridge separating Sheep Creek from the next drainage, later crossing this stream, climbing the east-facing slopes beneath Lookout Peak. After winding through another pleasant shady ravine, the trail finally climbs up to the base of Lookout Peak where another steeper trail takes agile hikers to unforgettable views of the canyon floor nearly a mile below.

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

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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Latitude: 36.789491 Longitude: -118.672943 Elevation: 4642 ft

Vertical Gain or Loss

Over 4,000 feet.

Trail Distance

6 miles (9 kilometers) 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.

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