This 66 mile loop begins at the Lewis Creek Trailhead in Kings Canyon National Park. Last we checked, during the peak season, there are 25 people allowed per day at the Lewis Creek Trailhead. At the permit station, we discovered that only 4 of the available slots had been taking for the Lewis Creek trail – whereas 20+ slots had been filled for the Copper Creek Trail (which is how you exit the loop). Of course, the Rae Lakes trailhead had all 25 slots taken by early morning. So, the advantage to this route is that you can visit some fantastic Sierra scenery if you find that the more popular Rae Lakes trail is full. An added bonus that we discovered: we did not see another person in the 88 hours we spent on the route!
In times of severe drought, like we are seeing in 2015, many pines and cedars are dying. It’s not that the trees don’t have enough water per-se, it is that the trees are under stress, and no longer able to make enough of the protective chemicals that prevent the bark beetle infestations.
As you get higher on the slopes of the Lewis Creek Trail towards Frypan Meadow, you start to get views of the mountains below.
As you get higher towards Kennedy pass, you encounter Talus Slopes on the upper Lewis Creek Trail.
This is a seasonal lake just below Kennedy pass.
Kennedy Pass Drainage
We’re deep into one of California’s worst droughts on record. In June, there is still a little bit os snow left at about 10,000 feet.
Looking down into East Kennedy Lake from the Kennedy Canyon Trail
Tent at Night in Frypan Meadow
Looking down on East Kennedy Lake
The Kennedy Canyon trail is no longer maintained. As such, the trail bed is not evident about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, we were able to pick up remnants of the trail bed. The route is pretty well marked by cairns, cuts in the trees, and smoothly cut fallen logs. We observed horse manure in two locations, indicating that one day, someone managed to get stock down in this difficult region. We did not see any recent signs of human activity in this area.
Beautiful Kennedy Canyon Trail
Unnamed lake after climbing out of Dougherty Creek on South side of trail
There are a number of creek crossings on this route, but it was not necessary for us to get our feet wet on any of them
The surroundings of lower state lake were fantastic! I’m excited to pass through this area again in the coming months.
Lower State Lake; we heard 3 separate very loud rock falls in the evening and morning. Each time we poked our heads out of the tent, but could not see dust or the area.
Granite Lake from Above
After Lower Tent Meadow, you get some great views of Kings Canyon
The trail between Zumwalt Meadow and Roaring River Falls seemed like a logical route to continue on trail, but there were hundreds of downed trees for 3/4 of a mile. This made for difficult passage, and I would recommend going around on the road at this time.
Roaring River Falls is an easy detour off the main road if you’re not on the trail. We saw a youth jumping repeatedly from a 20′ high ledge on the left hand side of the falls into the cold water.