What to do with a day on the south side of Sequoia Natl Forest?
December 10, 2013 2:25 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are going down to a wedding in Ontario, CA this summer, and have enough time for a day trip to Sequoia National Forest. What would you do if you only had a day?

Snowflake details: The drive from Ontario is about 4.5 hours, so we might expect to get there around 10:30 or 11, and I'd like to stay until sunset. I'd enjoy some (mild) hiking, and scenic driving would also be a plus. Since we're coming from the south, it seems most efficient to spend most of our time on that side of the park, though if there's something I must see, please let me know. Would prefer to minimize number of people, but I'd also love to see some big trees.
posted by Apropos of Something to Travel & Transportation around Springville, CA (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you continuing north afterwards? If so, drive the General's Highway, which starts at the General Grant tree in Sequoia and goes to the General Sherman tree in King's Canyon. Lots of other spots to check out on the way, and most of the sights are at the south end so you won't miss too much if you run out of daylight.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:49 PM on December 10, 2013

You could head to the Giant Sequoia National Monument, which is near the southwest corner of Sequoia National Forest.

Bang for your buck-wise, the Trail of 100 Giants in the Western Divide Ranger District is tough to beat -- it's a great choice for a relatively short, leisurely stroll.

If you're looking for something a bit more strenuous, I would definitely take the 8-mile round-trip to Marble Falls in the Foothills. Make sure to watch out for poison oak and slippery rocks.

There's also Needles Lookout, a gorgeous five-mile hike. The actual lookout building was destroyed in a fire a couple of years back but the views are spectacular.

This is one of the most beautiful places on earth, IMO, so I'm sure you'll love it wherever you wind up -- enjoy!
posted by divined by radio at 3:09 PM on December 10, 2013

Get there early before the buses full of horrible noisy people spoil the atmosphere.
posted by planetesimal at 4:10 PM on December 10, 2013

The climb into the Sequoia National Park is very impressive. At first it is just "normal" California foothill beauty but as you get higher you will eventually just run into the giant trees. It is shocking and damn impressive and awe inspiring that you are so close to these enormous trees. Keep in mind that the crowds will likely be thick around the most famous trees but it can be a quick easy walk and there are lots of great easily accessible trails off of the paved loop that hardly anyone visits even in the thick of summer. In particular I really liked the "Trail of the Sequoias" once it left the paved main trail.

Also don't be deceived by distances on the map. I can take you a lot of time to continue northward to get into King's Canyon.
posted by mmascolino at 4:56 PM on December 10, 2013

The drive into King's Canyon is really nice.
posted by bmar at 2:09 PM on December 11, 2013

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