I’m continually amazed at how fast time passes these days. Since camp was canceled this year I’d not had a long stint out in the woods, particularly out in Kings Canyon. A good friend of mine had just bought homself a new truck and was looking for an excuse to take it out in the woods and get dirty. Kings Canyon is near where he lives so it was an easy sell to go camping there. Given that fall was clearly in the air Cedar Grove (elevation 4000ft) seemed to be the better option than Grant Grove (6500ft).
The drive down into the canyon is one not to be missed. Many people who visit the park don’t want to take the 70 mile journey down to Roads End (Kanawyers, CA to Google Maps). It however continues to be one of my favorite rides in California. That’s a pretty high bar as I’ve seen a lot of places here.
We got down to the bottom of the canyon fairly late in the day. To my surprise the only campsite that was open was Sheep Creek. All the others were closed. I was really surprised how fast the park closes in the fall. Once winter kicks in this area is closed as they don’t plow the road. After we got the tents set up and all that, it was time for dinner. The restaurant (which the staff insists on calling a “snack bar”) closes at 7 in the fall. Bugs were actually pretty bad at the campsite. We’ve had a lot of rain this year which didn’t help.
I’d never seen much of Cedar Grove on foot so it was great to have the opportunity to see the park up close. After asking a few rangers where the best place to hike was, we decided on the Hotel Creek Trail. It was a 5 mile round trip hike up the canyon for the first mile and a half and then leveled off to an overlook of the valley below. The first mile was tough as it’s somewhat sunny and very steep. In the summertime take lots of water. The view from up top was cool though!
After going out to Roads End we decided to take the hike out to Zumwalt Meadow. We had some time to kill and the rangers seemed to give it a good rating. This trail is worth doing. It is an easy 1.5 mile loop around the bottom of the canyon. Good views are to be had most of the way around the loop. We did see a fair amount of people on the trail but not overwhelmingly so.
No trip to Cedar Grove is complete without a visit to Roaring River Falls. It’s one of the best spots in the valley to see and the hike is only quarter of a mile from the parking lot on a paved path. I’ve photographed this area so much looking for that perfect photo. Unfortunatley the lighting conditions were not optimal at this visit as it was too light. The falls are still pretty though!
Map for the weekend: