Hiking Big Baldy in Kings Canyon National Park
Our first hike in Kings Canyon/Sequoia was to Big Baldy, a beautiful and fairly moderate 4.6 mile hike to an open viewpoint in Kings Canyon.
Hike Date: August 15, 2021
|0 mi||0 mi||Start at Big Baldy Ridge Trailhead|
|2.3 mi||2.3 mi||Big Baldy Ridge Trail to the summit of Big Baldy|
|2.3 mi||4.6 mi||Big Baldy Ridge Trail back to the trailhead|
The National Park Service updates info on Big Baldy Trailhead here. Last we checked, it’s inaccessible due to the KNP Complex wildfire that burned through the area.
When we arrived in Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks, we decided to do a relatively short, but high-reward hike to introduce us to the incredible landscape. At 4.6 miles, Big Baldy was the perfect short hike to do after a long drive from Yosemite. This hike was also on our way to our campsite at Stony Creek Campground in Sequoia National Forest, which is nested between the two National Parks. Side note: Stony Creek Campground was the perfect campground for us to explore both Kings Canyon and Sequoia. It is about 30 minutes from the central highlights in Sequoia National Park and 30 minutes the other way to Kings Canyon National Park. The bathroom facilities were brand new (vault toilets, but really nice), our campsite was spacious and outfitted with a bear box and a picnic table, there were drinkable water spigots available, and the caretakers were incredibly friendly.
To hike Big Baldy, we parked at Big Baldy Ridge Trailhead on the side of the road and started on the trail, which was nicely graded and mild. At the beginning, we zig-zagged our way on long-switchbacks through tall trees. The trail was never too steep and was an easy dirt track to follow.
After this wooded section, the trail traverses an open area with some views, but it was really hazy from wildfire smoke when we were there. Then we ducked back into the woods and continued up to Big Baldy.
A little further down the trail, we got our first views of Big Baldy, a prominent bald rocky outcrop up ahead. The last push towards the summit got rockier and it looked like there were multiple routes up. Unsure as to which was the “official” way, we just picked one! It seems like both routes end up there.
The summit area was great – a rocky open area with unobstructed views of waves and waves of mountains and hills. Unfortunately, the haze and smoke from the wildfires were really bad during our entire stay in Kings Canyon/Sequoia so we couldn’t see much very clearly. Behind us, we caught our first glimpses of the High Sierras that we planned to hike into the next day. We spent a lot of time at the summit. While Kevin took photos, I closed my eyes and relaxed. I loved the peace and quiet after spending 3 days in a really busy Yosemite National Park!
To return, we took the other trail down from the summit. That turned out to be a great choice as it brought us along an open ledge with more views. Along the way, we saw a marmot peeking out of its rocky burrow. It was our first wildlife spotting of Kings Canyon! The only trail you shouldn’t take is the one clearly signed to head toward the lodge. Instead, follow the trail to the trailhead.
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