Pacific Crest Trail: CA Section 20

KENNEDY MEADOWS to TUOLUMNE MEADOWS: The highlight reel of this 209-mile section includes three national parks, several high passes with heavenly views, two stunning wilderness areas, and not a single road. Option: Detour up Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48.
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KENNEDY MEADOWS to TUOLUMNE MEADOWS: The highlight reel of this 209-mile section includes three national parks, several high passes with heavenly views, two stunning wilderness areas, and not a single road. Option: Detour up Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 366.5

Waypoints

PCT397

Location: 36.05455, -118.130684

Kennedy Meadows Trailhead @ N end of campground

PCT398

Location: 36.078884, -118.124031

Bridge over South Fork Kern River

PCT399

Location: 36.101185, -118.11898

Creeklet

PCT400

Location: 36.128685, -118.13385

Another creeklet running beside the trail

PCT401

Location: 36.138817, -118.139748

Haiwee Trail junction; stay straight

PCT402

Location: 36.152466, -118.147133

Creek

PCT403

Location: 36.181915, -118.12883

Bridge over South Fork Kern River; be sure to take a look under the bridge where you'll find the nests of hundreds of swallows. Because of their droppings, go upstream of the bridge to get water. There is an excellent campsite high on the S bank.

PCT404

Location: 36.182533, -118.128166

Trail junction; Go straight and head into Cow Creek Canyon

PCT405

Location: 36.227318, -118.134613

R @ Junction to Monache Meadows, the largest in the Sierras

PCT406

Location: 36.225132, -118.130066

Cross a creek

PCT407

Location: 36.224117, -118.129013

Olancha Pass Junction; stay straight, eventually the trail curves N

PCT408

Location: 36.224667, -118.128036

Trailside camp

PCT409

Location: 36.225266, -118.12748

Trail junction to Olancha Pass Trail

PCT410

Location: 36.227482, -118.127647

Creek

PCT411

Location: 36.232018, -118.121986

Creek

PCT412

Location: 36.273418, -118.136467

Creek

PCT413

Location: 36.286266, -118.140419

Creek

PCT414

Location: 36.296467, -118.130783

Creek

PCT415

Location: 36.321518, -118.13102

Dry creek, good camping on N side

PCT416

Location: 36.355835, -118.123299

Crestline saddle with views E down toward the high-elevation desert of the Owens Valley

PCT417

Location: 36.369816, -118.137352

Junction to a spring .25-mi. to R, plenty of flat camping amongst the large foxtail pines in this area

PCT418

Location: 36.413033, -118.139099

Junction with faint spur trail going R down to meadow with a hard-to-find spring

PCT419

Location: 36.427582, -118.147835

Unsigned spur to water and corral; take R

PCT420

Location: 36.429768, -118.165398

Go straight @ Mulkey Pass trail junction; going L about .25-mi. leads to a spring marked by a signed tree

PCT421

Location: 36.427185, -118.17643

Go straight @ Trail Pass trail junction; R leads to popular Hoseshoe Meadows Trailhead where you might be able to hitch into Lone Pine for supplies

PCT422

Location: 36.453201, -118.215683

Go straight @ Cottonwood Pass; R will also take you to Horseshoe Meadow

PCT423

Location: 36.454235, -118.224983

Chicken Spring Lake outlet; stop here for a swim in your first Sierra lake; excellent camping found 100 ft. from the S shore

PCT424

Location: 36.473618, -118.260498

Sequoia NP Boundary

PCT425

Location: 36.478767, -118.271935

Go straight @ Siberian Pass/Rock Creek Trail Junction

PCT426

Location: 36.490932, -118.319717

Creeklet

PCT427

Location: 36.493851, -118.320282

Go straight @ New Army Pass trail junction

PCT428

Location: 36.495682, -118.329384

Spur to Rock Creek Ranger Station

PCT429

Location: 36.496166, -118.337082

Cross Rock Creek; there is a bear locker here

PCT430

Location: 36.506783, -118.343002

Guyot Creek

PCT431

Location: 36.552418, -118.358704

Whitney Creek: take R @ spur to Crabtree Ranger Station to meet Mt. Whitney Trail; PCT continues L

PCT432

Location: 36.563618, -118.349434

Crabtree Ranger Station and bear box; John Muir Trail to Mt. Whitney across creek

PCT433

Location: 36.573349, -118.314651

Campsite by stunning Guitar Lake; great basecamp for Whitney attempt. Even if you decide not to summit, enjoy camping in this high-alpine cirque

PCT434

Location: 36.578617, -118.291985

Summit Mt. Whitney, highest point in lower 48; enjoy views of the Great Western Divide, the central Sierras, and the Owens Valley below

PCT435

Location: 36.558849, -118.36187

Rejoin PCT/JMT; from here to Red's Meadow, the PCT and JMT are the same trail. Follow all JMT signs until Devils Postpile NM.

PCT436

Location: 36.594131, -118.371117

Wallace Creek and High Sierra Trail junction and bear box

PCT437

Location: 36.598915, -118.374153

Wright Creek

PCT438

Location: 36.620144, -118.380638

Bighorn Plateau

PCT439

Location: 36.635017, -118.385468

Bear box

PCT440

Location: 36.639717, -118.388046

Spur to Tyndall Creek Ranger Station

PCT441

Location: 36.640934, -118.387398

Shepard Pass trail

PCT442

Location: 36.642132, -118.387413

Tyndall Creek

PCT443

Location: 36.643002, -118.387451

Bear box

PCT444

Location: 36.64505, -118.38813

Lake South America trail

PCT445

Location: 36.694534, -118.373535

Forester Pass: highest point on PCT and entrace into Kings Canyon NP

PCT446

Location: 36.730915, -118.372833

Center Basin Creek

PCT447

Location: 36.751518, -118.395287

Bear box

PCT448

Location: 36.7593, -118.40583

Vidette Meadow campsite and bear box

PCT449

Location: 36.760216, -118.407166

Camp in Lower Vidette Meadows

PCT450

Location: 36.7603, -118.412102

Bubbs Creek/PCT Junction; head uphill

PCT451

Location: 36.768066, -118.411415

Bullfrog Lake Trail junction. Not the PCT, but spur trail to Independence for a necessary resupply

PCT452

Location: 36.773682, -118.381714

Kearsage Pass Trail Junction

PCT453

Location: 36.773132, -118.376564

Kearsage Pass, leaving Kings Canyon NP into Inyo National Forest to Onion Valley

PCT454

Location: 36.774826, -118.343178

Golden Trout Lakes Junction

PCT455

Location: 36.772533, -118.341202

Onion Valley Trailhead

PCT456

Location: 36.772949, -118.413651

Trail junction

PCT457

Location: 36.773285, -118.417564

Resume PCT

PCT458

Location: 36.789616, -118.412102

Glen Pass

PCT459

Location: 36.801815, -118.403198

Rae Lakes, Sixty Lakes Basin trail junction

PCT460

Location: 36.806583, -118.398048

Bear box

PCT461

Location: 36.811218, -118.40065

Spur to Rae Lakes Ranger Station

PCT462

Location: 36.814632, -118.404999

Bear box @ Lower Rae Lakes and good camping

PCT463

Location: 36.832947, -118.408798

Spur to Baxter Pass near Dollar Lake

PCT464

Location: 36.8498, -118.41243

Crossing at South Fork Woods Creek

PCT465

Location: 36.873432, -118.436966

Wooden suspension bridge over Woods Creek and bear locker

PCT466

Location: 36.90255, -118.400551

Sawmill Pass trail junction

PCT467

Location: 37.030518, -118.456902

Pinchot Pass

PCT468

Location: 36.969433, -118.44117

High water log crossing at South Fork Kings River

PCT469

Location: 37.031715, -118.460098

Mather Pass

PCT470

Location: 37.054501, -118.514702

Deer Meadow campsite

PCT471

Location: 37.052647, -118.578674

Middle Fork Kings River Junction; follow signs for JMT N into LeConte Canyon

PCT472

Location: 37.110615, -118.604897

Campsite at Big Pete Meadow

PCT473

Location: 37.113251, -118.633163

Helen Lake Outlet, climb continues

PCT474

Location: 37.118668, -118.659866

Muir Hut on Muir Pass

PCT475

Location: 37.111984, -118.670914

Crossing at Evolution Lake inlet

PCT476

Location: 37.187855, -118.745514

Nice, flat camp on Mc Clure Meadow with sublime views of The Hermit and Evolution Peaks

PCT477

Location: 37.195, -118.77317

Old PCT junction @ Evolution Creek; high-water crossing can be swift

PCT478

Location: 37.195465, -118.78167

Rejoin new PCT @ crossing of Evolution Creek

PCT479

Location: 37.193016, -118.794968

Bridge over South Fork San Joaquin River and Goddard Canyon trail junction

PCT480

Location: 37.202965, -118.800537

Cross metal bridge

PCT481

Location: 37.22525, -118.832748

Bridge, leaving Kings Canyon NP into Sierra National Forest

PCT482

Location: 37.225899, -118.860786

Florence Lake trail junction

PCT483

Location: 37.2421, -118.871696

Spur to Florence Lake trail and Muir Trail Ranch

PCT484

Location: 37.253551, -118.864647

Senger Creek

PCT485

Location: 37.270134, -118.876549

Outlet of eastern of Sally Keyes Lakes

PCT486

Location: 37.280918, -118.874649

Outlet of Heart Lake

PCT487

Location: 37.289917, -118.872803

Selden Pass

PCT488

Location: 37.321884, -118.868286

Leaving PCT to cross Bear Creek at three forks section; use caution at dangerous ford

PCT489

Location: 37.330166, -118.866882

Return to PCT at normal crossing of Bear Creek

PCT490

Location: 37.368, -118.888153

PCT leaves Bear Creek to climb ridge

PCT491

Location: 37.382534, -118.91037

Trail to Bear Ridge trailhead and foot access to Vermillion Valley Resort

PCT492

Location: 37.412518, -118.92437

Leaving PCT for ferry across Edison Lake to Vermillion Valley Ranch at this junction

PCT493

Location: 37.405216, -118.942368

Ferry landing

PCT494

Location: 37.375702, -119.012451

Vermillion Valley Resort (http://www.edisonlake.com) first beer and one-night stay in platform tents free for thru-hikers; meals in diner are pricey, but filling

PCT495

Location: 37.470165, -118.923233

Silver Pass

PCT496

Location: 37.501301, -118.924835

Bridge over Fish Creek

PCT497

Location: 37.527317, -118.949135

Outlet of Purple Lake; no camping allowed

PCT498

Location: 37.539318, -118.97097

Creek

PCT499

Location: 37.563465, -119.033714

Deer Creek; campsites

PCT500

Location: 37.591148, -119.058487

Creek below Red Cones and Mammoth Pass Trail

PCT501

Location: 37.609917, -119.075348

Rainbow Falls trail

PCT502

Location: 37.615002, -119.074852

Red's Meadow Resort: great diner and moderately stocked store; thermal showers at group campsites; shuttles run to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and town bus runs into Mammoth town

PCT503

Location: 37.627018, -119.085548

Bridge near Devils Postpile

PCT504

Location: 37.632801, -119.088654

Resume PCT @ split with JMT

PCT505

Location: 37.653168, -119.080032

Bridge over Middle Fork San Joaquin River

PCT506

Location: 37.682449, -119.097519

Another trail to Shadow Lake

PCT507

Location: 37.681984, -119.086334

Agnew Meadow parking lot

PCT508

Location: 37.6828, -119.084618

High trail trailhead

PCT509

Location: 37.723267, -119.132484

Great camping with view of the Minarets, Banner Peak and Mount Ritter -- the centerpiece summits of the grand Ritter Range

PCT510

Location: 37.725349, -119.134415

Trail to Clarke Lake

PCT511

Location: 37.728535, -119.17128

JMT and PCT merge @ Thousand Island Lake

PCT512

Location: 37.761833, -119.249367

Donohue Pass trail; enter Yosemite National Park

PCT513

Location: 37.777416, -119.261833

Bridge over Lyell Fork

PCT514

Location: 37.7943, -119.263

Campsite in grass just off trail along Lyell Fork

PCT515

Location: 37.866749, -119.322151

Bridge and trail junction to Tuolumne Pass

PCT516

Location: 37.868717, -119.333069

Reach Y. Go R to stay on official PCT. To L is short spur to backpacker's campground and Tuolumne Meadows General Store.

PCT517

Location: 37.869873, -119.332703

Bridge over Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. Deep pools great for swimming and bBig, flat rocks for stretching out.

PCT518

Location: 37.877834, -119.33876

L @ T toward Tioga Road and Wilderness Center; smooth cap of Lembert Dome to N

PCT519

Location: 37.87698, -119.353065

Turn L @ parking lot and follow gravel road into broad river plain of Tuolumne Meadows; enjoy wide views to the carved granite spires of the Cathedral Range.

PCT520

Location: 37.874298, -119.357101

520: Tuolumne Meadows General Store--fully stocked and package service @ US Post Office; backpacker’s campsite S of road behind group campsite fire ring.

PCT521

Location: 37.879101, -119.366852

R @ 3-way following PCT N to Glen Aulin.

More PCT: Next Section | Previous Section

The Big Hill

Location: 36.565891, -118.349266

Postcard views of Mount Whitney's helmet-shaped crest from the west. ©Jack Haskel

Crossing Whitney Creek

Location: 36.562225, -118.350609

A PCT'er negotiates a creek crossing while a fellow hiker balances the log. ©Jack Haskel

Mount Hitchcock Reflection

Location: 36.567314, -118.304596

This ridge frames the south end of the Whitney Basin. ©Jack Haskel

Climbing to Trail Crest

Location: 36.56123, -118.298599

Still in the shadow of early day, a PCT'er climbs to the turnoff for Mount Whitney. ©Jack Haskel

Summit Push

Location: 36.575817, -118.293854

A PCT'er climbs along the block-filled route to Whitney's summit. ©Jack Haskel

Along the Sierra Crest

Location: 36.572765, -118.289734

This view over Mount Muir and the tilted ridge south of Whitney reveals a snowy landscape stretching to the Great Western Divide. ©Jack Haskel

Whitney Hut

Location: 36.579483, -118.292244

The Mount Whitney Hut and was built in 1909 as a station for meteorological observations and is now a National Historic Landmark. The metal roof of this hut attracts lightning which can be conducted through the building to individuals inside. Do not seek shelter here during a storm. It is unsafe to be anywhere on top of the mountain or any exposed high place during a thunderstorm.©Jack Haskel

Jack at the register

Location: 36.579128, -118.290726

Map contributor Jack Haskel stands next to the Whitney Hut with the Kaweah Peaks in the background. ©Jack Haskel

Into the Whitney Basin

Location: 36.577785, -118.293678

The iconically shaped Guitar Lake rests in the Whitney Basin, with the Great Western Divide and Kaweah Peaks in the background. ©Jack Haskel

Bighorn Plateau

Location: 36.615692, -118.376556

A day north of Whitney, this large plateau is up high for miles and the vista is pure Sierra: jagged peaks all around and no one is sight. Go to the Full Section. ©Jack Haskel

Climbing to Forester Pass

Location: 36.691372, -118.373734

With the Kaweah Ridge behind, a PCT'er continues the trip north. ©Jack Haskel

Snowfield

Location: 36.680347, -118.379646

Two PCT'ers traverse a deep snowfield south of Forester Pass. ©Jack Haskel

Steep View

Location: 36.693253, -118.372925

Knife-edged switchbacks provide long-range views over the Great Western Divide. ©Jack Haskel

At the pass

Location: 36.694328, -118.372299

Three PCT'ers relish in cresting Forester, the highest pass on the PCT. ©Jack Haskel

Jack at the Pass

Location: 36.695133, -118.373558

Contributor Jack Haskel sits on the Sequoia-Kings Canyon boundary at Forest Pass. ©Jack Haskel

Long Glissade

Location: 36.698452, -118.370148

Coming off of Forester, a PCT'er takes the short way down. ©Jack Haskel

Kings Canyon

Location: 36.713058, -118.368805

After Forester, the PCT enters the north end of Kings Canyon, a deep, glacially carved trench.
©Jack Haskel

East Vidette

Location: 36.764217, -118.408012

Rising above Kings Canyon and Vidette Meadow is the triangular point of East Vidette. ©Jack Haskel

Kearsarge Pinnacles

Location: 36.773869, -118.380409

Travelling to Kearsarge Pass, the jagged edge of the Kearsarge Pinnacles stand above a lake-dappled basin. ©Jack Haskel

Kearsarge Pass

Location: 36.773193, -118.375023

A PCT'er stands at the Kings Canyon border at Kearsarge Pass. ©Jack Haskel

Rae Lakes

Location: 36.799355, -118.401932

A granite-encrusted lake basin with a narrow isthmus. ©Jack Haskel

Painted Lady

Location: 36.804203, -118.400131

The Painted Lady, a dome of varicolored bands, hovers over Upper Rae Lake. ©Jack Haskel

Rae Lakes and Fin Dome

Location: 36.812553, -118.403992

Views over the granite domes and craggy tars of the popular Rae Lakes Basin. ©Jack Haskel

Lonesome Path

Location: 36.838673, -118.407402

A PCT'er strides into the verdant reaches of Kings Canyon. ©Jack Haskel

Big ford

Location: 36.827454, -118.409203

A PCT'er crosses a cold, swift creek in Kings Canyon NP. ©Jack Haskel

Storms approaching Mather Pass

Location: 36.936062, -118.412262

A PCT'er big-sticks to Mather Pass, with a storm brewing to the south. ©Jack Haskel

Up to Mather Pass

Location: 37.030827, -118.459854

Deep snow on the path to Mather Pass. ©Jack Haskel

Long Slog to Muir Pass

Location: 37.121632, -118.652321

High snow blankets the bench leading to Muir Pass. ©Jack Haskel

The Muir Hut

Location: 37.112892, -118.667641

Perched on an exposed ridge, the Muir Hut welcomes weary hikers with shelter. ©Jack Haskel

Climbing to Muir Pass

Location: 37.114338, -118.663544

The large basin of Helen Lake makes for a long final climb to Muir Pass. Deep ©Jack Haskel

One of the locals

Location: 37.112171, -118.670166

A local marmot hangs out in the Muir Hut. ©Jack Haskel

Evolution Basin from Muir Pass

Location: 37.113525, -118.671295

The snow basin of Wanda Lake opens up once you crest Muir Pass. ©Jack Haskel

Evolution Valley View

Location: 37.175343, -118.701752

Looking down from Evolution Lake's bench see far-off views north over the Goddard Divide. ©Jack Haskel

Flooded Meadow

Location: 37.187057, -118.742035

Evolution Creek reaches the trail in high water. In low water, the creek flows past the little green clumps in the center of the frame. ©Jack Haskel

Evolution Valley

Location: 37.187328, -118.746628

Evolution Creek floods McClure Meadow, creating a virtual lake. The Hermit and Mt. Darwin Bench reflect in the glassy watercourse. ©Jack Haskel

Sierra Alpenglow

Location: 37.186157, -118.743744

Early stages of dusk paint the Hermit and Mt. Mendel soft-pink against azure skies. ©Jack Haskel

A Raging Shower

Location: 37.195347, -118.781235

Contributor Jack Haskel showers under the frigid spill-off from Evolution Creek. ©Jack Haskel

Freaked-out Crossing

Location: 37.194897, -118.785561

Contributor Jack Haskel stands gape-mouthed at the relentless torrents of Evolution Creek. Be wary: early-spring melt in the Sierras can create dangerous fords. ©Jack Haskel

Fery Landing

Location: 37.405888, -118.94194

PCT'ers wait at the Edison Lake boat dock for the ferry to Vermillion Valley Resort. ©Jack Haskel

Edison Queen

Location: 37.389061, -118.955963

With the Vermillion Cliffs in the background, PCT'ers rest on the deck of the Edison Queen, Vermillion Valley Resort's ferry shuttle. ©Jack Haskel

Raging Creek

Location: 37.441914, -118.918121

A lone PCT'er makes the slippery crossing where Silver Pass Creek tumbles from the bedrock. ©Jack Haskel

Jack at Silver Pass

Location: 37.470451, -118.922585

Contributor Jack Haskel gives two thumbs-up to the views at Silver Pass, which span the Cascade Valley, Ritter Range and craggy Silver Divide. ©Jack Haskel

Glissade from Silver Pass

Location: 37.470451, -118.923401

PCT'ers line up for a sweet snow slide session. ©Jack Haskel

Silver Pass Glissade

Location: 37.471649, -118.922852

A PCT'er shows how it's done on the glissade down Silver Pass. ©Jack Haskel

Lazy bends of Tully Hole

Location: 37.501957, -118.920959

©Jack Haskel

The Postpile From Above

Location: 37.615276, -119.087456

©Jack Haskel

Devils Postpile

Location: 37.616638, -119.087456

One of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt that towers 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry. ©Jack Haskel

Banner and Ritter

Location: 37.733742, -119.154396

Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter from the PCT. ©Jack Haskel

Banner Peak

Location: 37.732197, -119.183014

Snow-clad Banner Peak rises above the iced-over Thousand Lake basin. ©jack Haskel

Donohue Pass

Location: 37.758003, -119.243179

PCT'ers rest at the entrance to Yosemite National Park. ©Jack Haskel

Jack at the Muir Hut

Location: 37.112171, -118.671341

Contributor Jack Haskel stands at the doorway to the Muir Hut before the descent into the Evolution Basin. ©Jack Haskel

Inside the hut

Location: 37.111717, -118.670074

A couple PCTer's take a break in the warmth of the Muir Hut©Jack Haskel

Jack at VVR

Location: 37.376022, -119.012016

Contributor Jack Haskel stands at the VVR Mexico-to-Canada sign that greets thru-hikers. ©Jack Haskel