Woman hiking during winter in Sequoia National Park
Sierras

10 Best Winter Hikes In Sequoia National Park

Is visiting Sequoia National Park in winter on your bucket list? I am here to help! There are so many incredible winter hikes in Sequoia National Park to do during the snowy season and in this post, I cover a few of my favorites.

Visiting Sequoia in winter is truly a magical experience. From snow-capped mountains to empty hiking trails and enormous trees covered in snow, there is so much to love about visiting this National Park in the off-season.

But before heading out to the park there are a few things to keep in mind. Many of the park roads and trails are not accessible in the winter months and often you will be required to bring snow chains for your car.

Keep reading for details on all the top Sequoia National Park winter hikes that stay open year-round and other visitor tips to make the best of your trip!

Hiking Tip: Before heading out on any winter hikes, I recommend downloading offline maps from the AllTrails hiking app. This way you will always have access to the trail map, even if you get lost.


Best Winter Hikes In Sequoia National Park:

1. Congress Trail

Congress Trail at Sequoia in winter.

Trail summary:

Congress Trail is one of the best winter hikes at Sequoia National Park. I’ve done this hike both in summer and winter and personally, winter was my favorite!

This is one of the most popular Sequoia hiking trails because it passes many major attractions along the way.

A few of the most notable Sequoia trees along this route are the General Sherman Tree, The President Tree, The House Group, and the Senate Tree Group. All of these locations are great spots for photography, especially in the winter months.

The Congress Trail Loop is fairly easy, but in the winter months, you may need snowshoes or microspikes to trek across deep snow. The further you head into the trail, the less foot traffic you will encounter.

I always recommend checking reviews on the AllTrails hiking app for the latest trail conditions before heading out on the trek, especially in the winter.

Photography Tip: I use the Sony a7c camera for my travel photos. This is the smallest and lightest full-frame camera available on the market – easy to bring on hiking and outdoor trips!

2. Moro Rock

Hiking to the summit of Moro Rock is one of the top things to do in Sequoia National Park in winter.

Trail summary:

  • Distance: 0.5 miles to the summit + 1.7 miles to reach the trailhead
  • Elevation Gain: 180 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Google Map Location: Moro Rock Trail
  • AllTrails Map: Moro Rock

Moro Rock is one of the most incredible trails at Sequoia National Park. This path follows 350 narrow stairs that have been carved into the towering Moro Rock allowing visitors to climb to the top.

Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of Sequoia National Park as far as you can see. It is a truly incredible sight that will simply leave you in awe!

I have hiked to the top of Moro Rock in the winter months several times, but extra caution should be used. The stairs can become slick from snow and ice so take your time, use the handrails, and take frequent breaks when needed.

Occasionally the rock stairs do close during dangerous weather conditions. This is another trail that I recommend checking out on the AllTrails hiking app for the latest updates before heading out to the park.

Do note that the main Crescent Meadow Road that leads to Moro Rock Trailhead closes in the winter months. You will need to hike an additional 1.7 miles to the trailhead from Giant Forest Museum and back. Be sure to account for that extra distance in your hiking time.

3. Big Trees Trail

Hiking Big Trees Trail is one of the best Sequoia National Park winter activities.

Trail summary:

If you’re looking for an easy trail that you can do any time of the year, the Big Trees Trail is it! This short 1.2-mile long trek follows a fairly flat loop along the Round Meadow. Along the way, you’ll be passing giant Sequoia trees that grow around the meadow.

The Big Trees Trail is a great option for families and little kids. Here you can stop and read several information signs to learn more about these giant trees that only grow in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

The closest parking lot to this trail is located across the Giant Forest Museum. You can take the Alta Trail that runs next to Generals Highway to reach the Round Meadow.

4. General Sherman Tree Trail

General Sherman Tree at Sequoia National Park in winter.

Trail summary:

The General Sherman is one of the most notorious Sequoia trees at this park. If it’s your first time visiting Sequoia National Park, stopping by the General Sherman Tree is a must!

The General Sherman Tree Trail is one of the most crowded hikes in the summer. Winter season is a great time when you might (if you’re lucky) find the place all to yourself.

This giant tree is the largest Sequoia in the world by volume and will make you feel so small standing next to it! There is a designated visitor area where you can take a photo in front of the General Sherman Tree sign which usually has a long visitor line in the summer months.

While the hike itself is very short, it follows a paved path that can be covered in slick ice and snow. I recommend bringing microspikes that you can attach under your boots to prevent you from falling.

5. Tokopah Falls

Tokopah Falls at Sequoia National Park.

Trail summary:

Giant Sequoia trees are not the only things to experience at Sequoia National Park! If you’re looking for something else to do besides visiting enormous trees, I recommend hiking the Tokopah Falls Trail.

This hike travels in the woods along the Kaweah River and ends at the impressive 1200-foot-tall Tokopah waterfall. Along the way, you can enjoy views of towering granite mountains that surround the Tokopah Canyon.

The Tokopah Falls Trail is doable in the winter months although some icy sections might require microspikes to prevent slipping and falling.

6. Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock at Sequoia National Park.

Trail summary:

  • Distance: 0.3 miles each way + 1.4 miles to reach the trailhead
  • Elevation Gain: 70 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Google Map Location: Hanging Rock
  • AllTrails Map: Hanging Rock Trail

Hanging Rock is a great hike that you can do year-round. This trail is located near Moro Rock so you can combine a visit to both rock formations on the same trip.

To reach the trailhead you will need to walk 1.4 miles along the Crescent Meadow Road that closes in the winter season. Then from the Hanging Rock Trailhead, it’s just a 0.3-mile long short and sweet hike to reach the unique ‘Hanging Rock’.

If you’re not up for hiking Moro Rock, this is a great alternative that offers similar views of the surrounding landscapes. The trail ends at a giant boulder perched at the end of a smooth granite cliff.

7. Sunset Rock

Trail summary:

  • Distance: 1.6 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Google Map Location: Sunset Rock
  • AllTrails Map: Sunset Rock

Sunset Rock is one of the shortest hikes at Sequoia National Park. This trek starts at the Giant Forest Museum parking lot making it one of the easiest trails to access in the park in winter months.

I recommend hiking this trail before sunset so you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes as the sun sets over the horizon. Just be sure to bring a headlamp and download an offline map on the AllTrails hiking app so you can find your way back to the parking lot.

8. Beetle Rock Vista

Beetle Rock Viewpoint at Sequoia National Park.

Trail summary:

Beetle Rock also starts at the Giant Forest Museum parking lot and is one of the shortest hikes at the park. This trail is a great option if you’re short on time or are looking for hikes to do with little kids.

Beetle Rock Vista Point is another great hike to do around sunset. It is much shorter than Sunset Rock Trail in case you’re worried about finding your way back to the parking lot after dark.

9. Crescent Meadow

Crescent Meadow is one of the best places for observing wildlife at Sequoia National Park.

Trail summary:

  • Distance: 1.3-mile long loop + 2.6 miles to reach the trailhead
  • Elevation Gain: 130 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate in winter
  • Google Map Location: Crescent Meadow
  • AllTrails Map: Crescent Meadow Loop

Crescent Meadow is one of my favorite locations at Sequoia National Park for viewing wildlife, especially black bears. But reaching this location in the winter can be a bit of a challenge as the main road that leads there is closed during the off-season.

If you’re up for a longer hike, follow the 2.6-mile-long Crescent Meadow Road until you reach High Sierra Trailhead. From there it’s a short loop that travels around the serene Crescent Meadow.

Meadows provide food sources to wild animals so along the trail you can often spot deer and black bears munching on plants.

If you plan to hike this trail, be sure to stop by the famous Sequoia National Park’s Tunnel Log along the way. This fallen Sequoia tree has a large carved-out center that cars can drive through in the summer season.

10. Alta Trail & Hazelwood Nature Loop

Sequoia National Park snow covered trail.

Trail summary:

If you’re looking for a less crowded trail, the Hazelwood Nature Loop is a great option. To reach it you can take the Alta Trail for 0.5 miles from the Giant Forest Museum lot.

This trail stays open year-round but after heavy snow conditions, you may need snowshoes. This trail is not well traveled in the off-season so the snow can be much deeper and less compact.  


Giant Forest Museum at Sequoia National Park in December.

Tips For Visiting Sequoia National Park In Winter

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind before heading out to visit Sequoia National Park during the snow season:

  • Be sure to check the latest weather conditions and if car tire chains are required. Tire chains are often required by law to drive in the mountains, especially after a fresh snowfall. Read more about Sequoia winter driving tips here.
  • Bring plenty of food and water for your visit. Many of the park amenities close for the winter. You can stock up on food and water in Three Rivers town before entering the park.
  • There is no reception in the mountains so it’s important to download offline Google Maps for driving. I also recommend downloading offline trail maps from the AllTrails hiking app of any routes that you plan to hike.
  • Always bring a headlamp, medical kit, and a fully charged phone battery for emergencies. There are fewer people and staff at National Parks in the winter months so you’ll need to be more self-reliant.
  • Pack plenty of warm clothing as it can get very cold in the mountains during the winter months. I recommend wearing lots of layers and breathable materials like merino wool.  
  • For winter trips in the mountains, I always bring along snowshoes and microspikes. These will help you trek across deep snow and prevent you from falling on icy trails.
  • It costs $35 per car to enter Sequoia National Park. This also gives you access to explore the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park. Instead of buying a daily pass, I always purchase the annual America The Beautiful Pass for $80 which allows unlimited entries into over 2000 recreational sites within the United States.

I hope this post has helped you find a few new hikes to add to your Sequoia winter travel itinerary!

Looking for more California travel inspiration? Here are a few other popular posts you may like:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

Share This On Pinterest!

Disclaimer: Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, may I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *