Hidden Gems in Sequoia Park
So, this past Memorial Day Weekend, my husband and I went camping with our youngest son and his family and were delighted to find some hidden gems in Sequoia Park.
Sure, there’s some famous stuff to see here. The world’s largest tree, the well-known General Sherman, Moro Rock with its stunning views from the top, and a walk among the giant sequoias to name a few. These and other famous sights aren’t to be missed if you’re visiting this majestic national park for the first time.
Since my son lives about an hour away from this national treasure, we’ve been there at least a half dozen times and seen these famous sights, but it’s only recently we found a few hidden gems in Sequoia Park.
It’s the Little Things That Count
Have you ever seen a famous sight and expected it to be even larger? I felt that way when we visited the Statue of Liberty and Rio’s “Christo.” Yes, these sights were amazing, but in my mind, these monuments were the size Mount Everest. Okay, maybe I have an overactive imagination.
Anyway, then you visit less popular places and are impressed with the sheer beauty. Which leads me to a cliched life lesson that turns out to be true. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that are the most important. In fact, the smaller things in life often create great moments.
So, as summer begins and everyone excitedly starts planning trips, don’t forget to appreciate the smaller moments. Maybe after the pandemic, this will be easier for us to do after many basic things we took for granted, like hugging family and friends, were stolen from us.
As Matt Bevin said, “While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things is extraordinary.”
So, I’m going to share a couple of little-known short hikes near the Three Rivers/Visalia entrance that we recently discovered that have big payoffs. I’m sure we could visit this national park a hundred more times and discover new sights and trails, but here’s what we’ve seen this year so far.
Potwisha and River’s Edge
This fun hike is easy to miss since it isn’t clearly marked.
If you go as far as the suspension bridge, this is an easy, short trail. I hear that the hike goes further to waterfalls that can be seen from a distance. We never made it that far. We hiked part of the trail after the bridge besides a flume – a handmade channel for water. Be warned, this section of the trail becomes steep after the bridge, but you’ll be treated with exquisite views overlooking the valley.
So, here’s how you get there: Shortly after you enter the park, you’ll see the Potwisha campground entrance on your left. Turn right down a paved road until it hits a dead end at a parking area. Continue toward the river and you’ll see a trail leading to open bedrock. The trail winds down to a charming suspension bridge and sandy beach.
FYI: A couple of campers that looked older than us (we are in our early 60s) told us that the nearby Marble Falls Trail, a 7.4 mile round trip hike up to some cool waterfalls, were awesome. They happened to mention that the day before they hiked 10 miles on another trail in the park. Were they bragging? Maybe, but they did look in great shape. Maybe when Scott and I are feeling more ambitious we’ll tackle some of these long trails…or not.
Hospital Rock River Trail
A little further up the road, there’s a big sign, “Hospital Rock” alerting you to this sight. Many people stop and take pictures at the big rock.
There’s a lovely picnic area (and bathrooms) across the road we enjoyed with our youngest granddaughter, Paige.
Near the sign, the main attraction are ancient pictographs (rock paintings) from Native American artists on the large rock walls and bedrock mortars that were used to grind acorns into flour. This is an amazing sight and it’s awe-inspiring that the pictographs are still preserved and can be seen with little effort.
But the hidden gem we almost missed was a trail just to the right that leads you down to Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, to a small waterfall, a few large pools and a roaring river with magnificent aqua waters.
When visiting these areas, please obey signs that warn you not to swim in the rivers, especially in the spring and early summer when we visited. We kept a respectful distance from the river and slippery rocks since drowning is the main cause of death in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Kaweah River and Lake
Just as an extra side note.
Before the entrance on the main southern route into Sequoia National park, you’ll see the winding Kaweah River which is fed primarily by snowmelt from Sequoia Park that flows southwest to Lake Kaweah.
In the springtime, the wildflowers blooming in abundance with the nearby roaring river makes for some delightful hikes. During the heat of the summer, you can find many swimming holes to enjoy. The rugged foothills of the Sierra Nevada provide a beautiful background for fishing, boating, and swimming at the lake.
As we get closer to normal after the pandemic, I hope you all find your own hidden gems wherever you go!