Sequoia National Park should definitely be on any nature-lover’s bucket list. Located in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains in California, Sequoia National Park is known for its massive Sequoia trees, including the largest tree in the world. Keep reading for my Sequoia National Park itinerary to help you plan your weekend trip!
Sequoia National Park Weekend Trip Overview
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 0-1
- Nights: 1
- Cost: $
Sequoia National Park Itinerary:
Day 1: Little Baldy Trail, Tokopah Falls
Day 2: General Sherman Tree, Tunnel Log, Crescent Meadows, Moro Rock
Getting to Sequoia National Park:
The drive to Sequoia National Park from Los Angeles is about 5 hours without traffic. The actual park entrance is about 4 hours away, but it takes about 1 hour of driving through the park to get to the central area where most of the campgrounds/sites are.
The vehicle pass for entrance to the park costs $35.00, and is good for 7 days. If you plan on visiting multiple national parks this year, I highly recommend getting the America the Beautiful Annual National Parks Pass to save money!
If you are coming from out of state, the closest airport to fly into is Fresno, which is about a 2 hour drive to the central part of Sequoia National Park. Or, you can fly into LAX or SFO for a cheaper flight but a bit longer drive.
Where to Stay in Sequoia National Park:
I definitely recommend camping at Lodgepole Campground. This campground is central to some of the best trails and is super scenic. The Kaweah River flows right next to the campsites which you can swim in after a long day of exploring, and the trailhead for Tokopah Falls starts from Lodgepole Campground.
Lodgepole Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Sequoia National Park, so you’ll have to book pretty far in advance on Recreation.gov. Campsites are about $20/night.
If you aren’t able to get a spot at Lodgepole campground, there are a few other campgrounds to choose from!
Planning your trip last minute and there’s no campsite availability? No worries! Download the Dyrt Pro app for a map of all the free campsites in the surrounding area.
If you aren’t the camping-type, an alternative is to stay at Stony Creek Lodge, which is right near Lodgepole Campground.
There are also quite a few awesome Airbnbs in the neighboring town of Three Rivers. For instance, this Mineral King Guest House has an epic view from the back deck (and the pool) and is only 2 miles from Sequoia National Park entrance!
Sequoia National Park Itinerary- Day 1:
Little Baldy Trail
Little Baldy Trail is one of my favorite hikes in Sequoia National Park! This hike is a great way to escape the crowds and soak in the beautiful scenery. I recommend doing this hike first on Saturday morning, when all the crowds are at the most popular spots (General Sherman and Moro Rock).
Little Baldy Trail is about a 15 minute drive from Lodgepole Campground. Hop in your car and turn right out of the campground, and drive for about 7 miles until you see the sign for the trailhead on the left side of the road, and park alongside the road.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Even though the sign for the trail is on the left side of the road, the trailhead is on the RIGHT side of the road.
Little Baldy Trail is about a 3.4 mile out-and-back hike, with a 700 foot elevation gain. The trail starts out with long switchbacks, and then flattens out a bit for the last half of the hike. This trail is beautiful, and not crowded, even though it’s so close to the main area of the park. Being there midday on a Saturday during the busy summer season, we only saw 2 other hikers on this trail!
Once you reach the top, you’ll come out onto this awesome granite plateau overlooking the Sierra Nevada mountains. The best part is- you’ll likely get to enjoy this beautiful view all by yourself!
Next on the Sequoia National Park itinerary – hop back in your car and head back to Lodgepole Campground to the Tokopah Falls trail head. This 3.4 mile trail follows the Kaweah River upstream until you reach Tokopah Falls at the end, which is the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park. There are areas to swim, so definitely wear your swimsuit on this hike! The trailhead starts right past the bridge pictured below:
The best part is- after completing this hike you are already at your campground (if you are staying at Lodgepole) so you can walk to your campsite and relax for the evening!
Sequoia National Park Itinerary- Day 2:
To avoid the crowds, get up early, pack up your campsite, and drive to the General Sherman Tree trailhead to arrive there by 7:00am. Turn left out of Lodgepole Campground and you will arrive there in about 3 miles. The park shuttle buses start running at 8:00am, so getting there an hour before that means you’ll have the trail mostly to yourself!
General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world by volume, and is about 2,200 years old! The paved trail to get to the tree is about 1 mile. After reaching General Sherman Tree, you can then stroll along the 2-mile Congress Loop trail to walk among more giant Sequoia trees.
Tunnel Log and Moro Rock
Head back to your car and drive for about 2 miles until you see signs for the Giant Forest Museum. Park in this lot. You’ll then have to hop on the shuttle bus.
I tried to avoid the shuttle bus the whole trip, but on the weekends in summer, the only way to get to Moro Rock and Tunnel Log is via shuttle bus. They do not allow cars to drive up that road during the weekends since it’s a busy and narrow road. This was a slight bummer- as we wanted to drive our car under Tunnel Log! However looking at the bright side- we got lucky and saw a bear from the shuttle bus as we were riding up. The driver stopped so that we could take pictures (from the safety of the shuttle bus, of course). So cool!
Take the shuttle bus up to Tunnel Log first. The bus will probably wait for you as you jump out and take a few pictures. Honestly, I thought that Tunnel Log looked smaller in person than it did in the pictures, but it was still a cool site to see!
Hop back on the shuttle bus, and get out at the top of the hill at Crescent Meadow. This 1.6-mile loop trail takes you through a peaceful meadow surrounded by wildflowers and Sequoia trees.
After this, hop back on the shuttle bus and go down the hill towards Moro Rock trailhead for your last hike of the Sequoia National Park itinerary! Although Moro Rock trail was crowded by the time we got there, it was still super cool and totally worth it. The trail is only 0.6 miles, however don’t under-estimate it! You will be climbing up 350 stairs to get to the top of this massive granite rock-face. The stairs are narrow- so you’ll have to step aside to let others going down get through.
The views going up are fantastic, and once you get to the top- the panoramic view is breathtaking!
After this, you can either walk the 1.5 miles back down to the Giant Forest Museum where you parked your car, or you can hop on a shuttle bus going that direction. Time to make the drive back home!
Other Tips for Sequoia National Park
- Buy your park pass online beforehand, so you can skip the line of cars upon entrance to the park! Make sure you either print it out, or save to your Apple Wallet since you won’t have cell service
- You won’t have cell service the whole time- make sure you plan accordingly. Tell your family and friends where you will be, do your research ahead of time for what trails you want to do (hopefully this blog post helps!) and make sure you have a map
- Make sure you put everything that smells (food, toiletries, etc) in the bear box provided at your campsite to avoid attracting bears
- Don’t wait until you are closer to the park to buy your groceries for the weekend- the only grocery store we found was in Three Rivers, a few miles before the park entrance, but it was a small market and was overpriced. You’ll save money if you go to your local grocery chain close to your house before starting your trip.
If you have longer than a weekend in Sequoia National Park:
- Explore the Crystal Cave– check out the cool underground formations in the Crystal Cave but note- you can only access via guided tour, which you need to book in advance.
- Add Kings Canyon National Park to your itinerary. You can see the second largest Sequoia there- General Grant Tree- about an hour drive from Sequoia National Park