We are a couple in our early and late 30s, visiting this area for the first time. We had 2 days for SeKi and 4 days for Yosemite. We enjoy hiking, and the goal for me especially on trips like this is to spend as much time outside as possible.
Arrived in Fresno right on time at 7:15pm (American Airlines) and picked up a rental car from Avis - everything went smoothly. In hindsight, we probably should have stayed in Fresno the first night so I wouldn’t feel so rushed (and tired due to the 2hr time difference), but instead, we were staying in Grant Grove at the John Muir Lodge, so we had to make most of the drive in the dark. It wasn’t that bad, and we arrived by 9:30pm (after a quick Walmart stop).
Up early for breakfast at the lodge when they opened at 7am - things move pretty slow in the dining room, so don’t go if you are in a hurry. The food was good fuel for the day, and we headed out into Kings Canyon around 8:00. First stop was Roads End and the Mist Falls trail. We saw several groups heading out, but the trail was fairly empty and the parking lot had plenty of space when we set out. We had most of the trail alone on the way up. We did pass one group early on who had just seen a bear cross the trail, but we never saw it.
Mist Falls was delivering on the mist, so we took a short break above the falls along the river. We continued to climb about ¾ of a mile to a great viewpoint looking down the canyon, where we took another break. Heading back down the trail was a lot more crowded once we reached Mist Falls again.
On the way out, we stopped at Zumwalt Meadows and walked the loop. We skipped Roaring River Falls in favor of getting a shower and dinner at the lodge after an hours drive back out of the canyon. The food was decent, and I thought the selection was good. I enjoyed sunset on the shared balcony right outside the room - nice “view” of the sun sinking through the trees.
Up early again, but this time we skipped the dining room and stopped at the market just after it opened at 7am for coffee and some odds and ends. I had leftovers from last night’s dinner (nice to have a mini-fridge in the room), and my BF got yogurt and cereal. We checked out and started the drive to Sequoia.
Our first stop was the visitor’s center. There are no entrance stations between Grant Grove and Sequoia NP, and I needed to buy a new NPS annual pass because mine expired 5/31. But the ranger informed me that they don’t sell them; I had to go to an actual entrance station. Oh well.
Our first stop was the Big Trees Trail, and I really enjoyed this meadow and the informational signs along the path - great first stop and practically in the morning.
We continued on to the Giant Forest Museum and found parking easily. We walked across the street and hopped right on a waiting bus - just the two of us, and we took the short ride to the General Sherman accessible parking area to start a one-way hike through the Giant Forest.
We got to the General Sherman tree around 10:00, and there were people there, but it was not too crowded. We hiked a long portion of the Congress Trail, which was probably my favorite part. It was also not crowded yet. Then we took some miscellaneous trails (~4.5 miles total) to get to Crescent Meadow. Along the way, we stopped at the Bear’s Bathtub and watched a marmot. I found Crescent Meadow to be a little anticlimactic, and was disappointed to see people going off-trail right where signs warned them not too.
Our next stop was Moro Rock - slightly poorly planned because it meant taking the grey shuttle around the loop twice - but we didn’t want to walk, and I didn’t want to go first thing in the morning. In the end, we definitely enjoyed riding the shuttle more than driving, especially when we saw the narrow roads, which were busy in the afternoon.
Moro Rock did seem to have parking spaces available when we arrived and left (around 2pm). It took us about half an hour to walk to the top, enjoy the views, and come back. It wasn’t packed at the top, but there was a steady stream of people, so we didn’t linger.
It was time to head for Yosemite, so we stopped at the grill across from the visitor center for an early dinner. It’s newly remodeled and I thought it had some nice options (grab-and-go in addition to hot food from the grill).
After all the driving we had done already, I was not looking forward to the drive to the Wawona area (Big Trees Lodge). However, it was pleasant and seemed to go pretty fast. We did get into some slowdowns leaving Fresno (a big one that turned out to be an accident on the OTHER side of the road). After about 3.5 hours, we arrived at the south Yosemite entrance at 7:30pm (no line) - they were still open and I was able to buy my annual pass!
The rest of the trip report will be posted in the Yosemite Forum.
I really enjoyed Sequoia NP and could have spent another few days there, so I’m sure I’ll return.