High Sierra Trail

Distance: 11 miles (18 km) one way to Bearpaw Meadow, 70 miles (113 km) to Whitney Portal
Elevation: 6,700 - 14,500 ft.
Difficulty: Strenuous
Time: 5-10 days (not including stops for rest or picture taking)

Hikers traversing the magnificent High Sierra Trail experience nearly everything the Sierra Nevada has to offer — the towering sequoias of Giant Forest, the vast canyon of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River - wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon, the sheer granite cliffs of Deer Creek, and Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

One of the best-engineered mountain paths in the world, the High Sierra Trail winds 70 miles directly across the rugged Sierra Nevada from Crescent Meadow up the canyon of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, crossing the Great Western Divide by the 10,700' (3261 meters) pass known as Kaweah Gap. It descends into Big Arroyo, then climbs up to the Chagoopa Plateau, and drops down again into the Kern River Canyon. After running up the bottom of the Kern Canyon, it turns east, climbing parallel to Wallace Creek up to the junction with the John Muir Trail and up to Trail Gap and Mt. Whitney.

Visitors with just an hour or two can hike the first ¾ mile of trail around beautiful Crescent Meadow on the southeast edge of the Giant Forest. The first quarter-mile of trail is paved and travels through shady, well-watered terrain covered with dense forests of red and white fir, sugar pines, and occasional giant sequoias. From here on, the trail is unpaved but mostly smooth and well graded. It emerges onto a warm, south-facing slope near Eagle View. From here, hikers can see back to Moro Rock to the west, down to the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, and ahead to the glaciated peaks of the Great Western Divide.

No water is available at the Crescent Meadow trailhead. Please obtain water at the Giant Forest Museum before proceeding on Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road. 

Visitors wishing to climb Mt. Whitney from either direction need All hikers entering the Mt. Whitney zone, including day-hikers, are required to obtain a permit—either your park wilderness permit if you are entering the zone from the west or an Inyo National Forest Whitney Zone permit if you are entering from the east.

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. See also the High Sierra Trail page on the park website: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/high-sierra-trail.htm.

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: 36.554327 Longitude: -118.741608 Elevation: 6874 ft

Vertical Gain or Loss

approximately 18,500/16,800 feet

Trail Distance

.75 miles one way to Eagle View; 62 miles to Trail Gap and and 70 miles to Whitney Portal. The trail starts at approximately 6,720 feet above sea level and climbs to 10,600 feet at Kaweah Gap and 13,580 feet at Trail Gap.

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

Only the first 1/4 mile of the trail is ADA accessible. The rest 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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