Sequoia Great Western Divide Loop

Sequoia remains one of my favorite National Parks.  The Great Western Divide Loop is one of my favorite routes.  You can start at Crescent Meadow parking lot.  You will need to pick up your permits at the Lodgepole Visitor Center.  It is open from 7am to 3:30pm (closed 11am to 12pm for lunch).  You can do a self service permit outside of May 22 to September 26 (please double check dates, as they change every year.)  The route takes you along the High Sierra Trail to the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp.  Highlights along the route are the views from the High Sierra Trail, Hamilton Lakes, Precipice Lake, Black Rock Pass, and Redwood Meadow.  The route is chock full of new things to see at every turn.  The route depicted here is 58 miles long.

GPS Track for this route Day 1

GPS Track for this route Day 2

GPS Track for this route Day 3

GPS Track for this route Day 4

Overview of our 58 mile route

Overview of our 58 mile route

We saw a bear near the Crescent Meadows Parking Lot.  Many people were crowded around taking pictures (including me, but I was up on a large rock).  As the people got closer and closer, with the bear minding it's own business, suddenly it lunged at the people.  It was just a momentary threatening move, but that large crowd of people ran very quickly!

We saw a bear near the Crescent Meadows Parking Lot. Many people were crowded around taking pictures (including me, but I was up on a large rock). As the people got closer and closer, with the bear minding it’s own business, suddenly it lunged at the people. It was just a momentary threatening move, but that large crowd of people ran very quickly!

Precipice Lake.  The view here is absolutely stunning!

Precipice Lake. The view here is absolutely stunning!

This is one of the Little Five Lakes: 10,476

This is one of the Little Five Lakes: 10,476

Climbing Black Rock Pass, you can see the Little Five Lakes, and some of Big Five Lakes

Climbing Black Rock Pass, you can see the Little Five Lakes, and some of Big Five Lakes

Black Rock pass is amazing!

Black Rock pass is amazing!

This is what the start of the High Sierra Trail looks like as you leave Crescent Meadow Parking.  The scenery is going to change very quickly!

This is what the start of the High Sierra Trail looks like as you leave Crescent Meadow Parking. The scenery is going to change very quickly!

As you walk along the High Sierra Trail, you start to be able to see down into the canyon formed by the Middle Fork Kaweah River.  I LOVE this view, and the view from Bear Paw Meadow High Sierra Camp is fantastic

As you walk along the High Sierra Trail, you start to be able to see down into the canyon formed by the Middle Fork Kaweah River. I LOVE this view, and the view from Bear Paw Meadow High Sierra Camp is fantastic

Small falls of Mehrten Creek

Small falls of Mehrten Creek

Near the Lone Pine Creek Crossing, there are some amazing tunnels and bridges.  Look for the old bridge that is down below on the rocks!  This bridge was built in 1932, and in the winter of 1937, an avalanche tore it up.  You still see the bridge on USGS topo maps.

Near the Lone Pine Creek Crossing, there are some amazing tunnels and bridges. Look for the old bridge that is down below on the rocks! This bridge was built in 1932, and in the winter of 1937, an avalanche tore it up. You still see the bridge on USGS topo maps.

Precipice Lake - makes you want to stay here for hours!

Precipice Lake – makes you want to stay here for hours!

One of my favorite lakes in the Sierra

One of my favorite lakes in the Sierra

Precipice Lake

Precipice Lake

The view just before you reach Old Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin.  Just after this, you will intersect with the Black Rock Pass Trail.

The view just before you reach Old Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin. Just after this, you will intersect with the Black Rock Pass Trail.

We found wonderful camping with bear lockers at the tiny unnamed lake by the Old Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin

We found wonderful camping with bear lockers at the tiny unnamed lake by the Old Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin

Janet crossing the stream leaving lower Little Five Lake.

Janet crossing the stream leaving lower Little Five Lake.

Me on Blackrock Pass.

Me on Blackrock Pass.

Climbing Black Rock Pass, you can see the Little Five Lakes, and some of Big Five Lakes

Climbing Black Rock Pass, you can see the Little Five Lakes, and some of Big Five Lakes

The scenery above Cliff Creek as you get to the lower elevations is still fantastic

The scenery above Cliff Creek as you get to the lower elevations is still fantastic

At Redwood Meadow, there is a Cabin.  The cabin is actually before you get to the big trees, which you encounter by going just a little farther North on the trail.  The big trees are truly mystical.  If no one is there, you get a magical sense of tranquility in this grove.

At Redwood Meadow, there is a Cabin. The cabin is actually before you get to the big trees, which you encounter by going just a little farther North on the trail. The big trees are truly mystical. If no one is there, you get a magical sense of tranquility in this grove.

Back up on the ridge, this is the view from the Campsite near Bearpaw Meadow.

Back up on the ridge, this is the view from the Campsite near Bearpaw Meadow.

Looking down on Little Dome and Sugarbowl Dome in the distance

Looking down on Little Dome and Sugarbowl Dome in the distance

Sequoia remains one of my favorite National Parks.

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3 Responses

  1. Kevin Wolf says:

    Brian, I was plotting out your course and I noticed my numbers as well as your gps did not match up completely with the main trails. Did you do some exploration and sight seeing of the lakes and mountains while doing this? I plan on doing a similar trip this coming weekend 10/30-31

    • Brian says:

      Kevin – Stoked! This is one of my favorite loops in the Sierra! The view from Bearpaw Meadow can’t be missed. Precipice Lake is outstanding. Black Rock Pass was superb (should be great in the fall if you get a clear day). Also, don’t miss Redwood Meadow. The redwood grove is small, but it is outstanding. Doesn’t photograph well, but it will truly take your breath away. The mileage might be a little higher than reality (due to GPS adding a little mileage when going slowly) – but not much. I feel like some of the old trail signs / maps are a little inaccurate (on the low end). Also, we did not deviate from the loop much – so I’d plan on your mileage being pretty close to ours. Are you going to do this in 2 days? With some running I assume? With a pack? It would be two long days, but relatively easy because the trail is in great condition. Slightly tricky navigation near Redwood Meadow, but still pretty easy.

      • Kevin says:

        Yeah I plan on doing this in two days. Split it in about half for each day. If the mileage is roughly the same I will more than likely do the same route with maybe a variation around the spot of getting off the HST. I do recall that trail signs and maps can vary quite differently than the actual trails so I will take that into account. I will have a small pack made up and plan on running a casual pace for what I can.

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