There are 14 ranger stations in the wilderness of the park. Eight are along the John Muir and Pacific Crest trails. Another six are in the southern part of the park in the Sequoia backcountry. Most are not staffed fall through spring. Note: Many of the following routes are buried under snow in winter.
High Sierra Trail
This trail is a popular route into the backcountry. Some use it as a one-way passage to Mount Whitney. The trail gets a lot of sun, so begin early in the day. From the parking area, head out on a paved trail to the south (straight), over several bridges, and to a junction. Turn right onto the High Sierra Trail. You will pass Eagle View, the Wolverton Cutoff, and Panther Creek. Hike at least 3 miles before setting up camp. For $350 double (meals included), the "civilized" lodging option is the 11-mile hike from Crescent Meadow to the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp (tel. 866/547-0096; www.visitsequoia.com).
At least 10 miles/5 hr. Strenuous. Take CA 198 to Giant Forest and proceed to Crescent Meadow Rd. Bear right at the junction, passing the signed parking area for Moro Rock. The road ends at the Crescent Meadow parking area.
Jennie Lakes Trail
This is a nice overnight hike that's not too demanding and can be further extended into the Jennie Lakes Wilderness Area. From the parking area, cross through the campground and move across Big Meadow Creek. The trail climbs from here. At Fox Meadow, there is a wooden trail sign and a register for hikers to sign. At the next junction, head right toward Jennie Lake (left goes toward the Weaver Lake Trail) and up to Poop Out Pass. From here, it's a drop down to the Boulder Creek drainage area and on to emerald-green Jennie Lake. This hike can be combined with a second day hike to Weaver Lake: Just retrace your steps to the Weaver Lake turnoff. Weaver Lake is a relatively warm mountain lake surrounded by blueberry bushes that reportedly weigh heavy with fresh fruit in July. Camp at least a quarter-mile from the lakeshore.
At least 12 miles/7 hr. Moderate to strenuous. From Grant Grove, drive about 7 miles south on the Generals Hwy. to the turnoff for Big Meadows Campground. The trail head and parking are on the south side of the road next to a ranger station.
This trail moves along a string of tarns -- high mountain lakes created by the scouring action of glaciers thousands of years ago. Heather Lake and Pear Lake are popular destinations along this route. From the trail head, go straight ahead (east), avoiding the Long Meadow Trail. Climb up a moraine ridge and soon you'll be hiking above Wolverton Creek, which darts through small meadows strewn with wildflowers. At a junction with the Panther Gap Trail, head left toward Heather Lake. At a second junction, you'll have to choose your direction. To the right is Hump Trail, a steep but always open trail, with no extreme drop-offs. To the left is Watchtower Trail, which moves along a granite ledge blasted in the rock with dynamite. With the Tokopah Valley far below, the Watchtower Trail hike is not for those who suffer vertigo. Both trails wind up at Heather Lake. Camping is not allowed here but is okay farther up the trail at Pear and Emerald lakes.
At least 13 miles/7 hr. Moderate to strenuous. From Giant Forest, drive north on the Generals Hwy. to the Wolverton parking area. The trail head is on the left of the parking lot as you enter from the highway.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.