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Backpacker Magazine – May 2013

First Night Out: Flora

Three hikes with scenic wildflower vistas

by: Sarah L. Stewart and Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Crater Lake Trail (Glenn Randall)
Crater Lake Trail (Glenn Randall)
Flame Azalea (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Flame Azalea (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Rhododendron (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Photo by BP0513FNO_Blackley_RoanMtountain_445x260.jpg
Rhododendron (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Lupine and Redwoods (Ed Callaert)
Lupine and Redwoods (Ed Callaert)

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, CA
Sugar Bowl Loop

There aren’t many places where you can sleep under the canopy of 2,000-year-old giant sequoias, making this trip into the world’s largest such grove life-list material for backpackers of any expertise. Thanks to prescribed burning, the trees here vary widely in size and age—from 30-foot-tall, 30-year-old juveniles to ancient, behemoth specimens that reach 20 feet in diameter and nearly 300 feet in height (about the size of a 25-story building). From the Redwood Canyon trailhead, follow Redwood Creek to pick a campsite dwarfed by the massive conifers near a trail junction at 1.6 miles. Here, you’ll find surprising solitude: Even in the summer, only about 60 people camp in this well-kept-secret corner of the park each month. Next day, continue up the west side of the 6-mile loop on the Sugar Bowl Trail to climb 900 feet up Redwood Mountain for views of 8,200-foot granite monolith Big Baldy rising above the treetops.

Go
June through September; the access road closes once heavy snow is on the ground Get there From Squaw Valley (the town, not the ski resort), take CA 180 east for 20 miles. Turn right onto FR 14S75 (dirt) for 2 miles to the trailhead. Permit Required; $15/group up to 10 Map Trails Illustrated Sequoia/Kings Canyon ($12, natgeomaps.com) Contact nps.gov/seki


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