Treadmill Rating (out of 10):
Distance: 12 Miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft.
Wanting desperately to hike in some snow during this unseasonably warm winter of 2012, we welcomed a storm passing through the central coast in late February. Rain on the central coast almost always translates to snow in the Sierra, so right after the rain fell here, I grabbed the kids and we drove up to Sequoia National Park.
I had hiked here about 2 years earlier with the Readyhiker.com staff, and knew the trail I wanted to attempt…the Lakes Trail. Its just so easy to get to, and once you are a short distance from the trail head, you feel as though you are miles from civilization.
To access this trail, simply drive to the Wolverton parking area and you will see several cars on the east side of the lot and a clearly marked trail head. Park, and follow the small sign at the junction to the right for “Lakes Trail”, see picture.
HOW TECHNICAL IS THE HIKE?
It depends on how far you go. On this particular instance, I only followed the trail for about 3 miles out. There were some mildly steep inclines, but as I did not have a pack or other gear, I found the snow covered trail fairly easy. The snow was packed hard, so I did not sink to my knees. My last snow hike on this trail, two years ago, was in much deeper snow with full overnight pack, and it was strenuous. In this photo you see the trail in front of me with clearly defined trail markers.
WHO CAN DO THIS HIKE?
This hike is moderate to strenuous depending on the season. The two times that I hiked it were in the winter, with snow. My first hike defeated me and turned me around after about 5 miles. This was in deep snow with full overnight pack and snow shoes. This last hike, I turned around because the sky grew suddenly dark and it began to snow. So, in keeping with our policy of always putting safety first, I turned back to the parking lot when weather approached.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
This trail is probably best hiked in late spring through the summer. I say this because its not a short hike, and since the days are long in summer, you will have plenty of time to complete it. I have been turned around by snow or lateness in the day both of my winter attempts. I plan on completing this trail this summer and will update the site with details.
However, if you only want to do a portion of this hike, like I have, in the winter…it sure is beautiful and serene. Nobody was on the trail when I went and you could hear a pin drop. Creepy for some, but I loved it. Just make sure you always let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back.
I spent a few moments just standing on this trail, with the snow falling, listening to virtually pure silence. I think that is why this may be my favorite winter hike…easy access for a moderate short hike to tranquility.
The picture below is of a stream adjacent to the Wolverton Parking lot during aforementioned snow during my hike.
You should be in good shape whenever hiking in the Sierra. If you are attempting in Winter, make sure your cardio is top. I had my heart rate watch on during this hike and was hitting 160′s easily due to altitude and incline. I’m 45 and hike frequently.
Here is some more advice from the Kings/Sequoia Wilderness Office:
Help us keep this place beautiful. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints. Please pack out your trash.
Know the Bear Facts! Whether staying in the picnic area or going for a longer hike, always store food away from bears. Use large, brown bear-proof boxes to store food and scented items. Never leave food or scented items unattended.
Be Safe! Bring plenty of drinking water and snacks/lunch. Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction, as well as long pants (due to ticks and poison oak). Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring insect repellent.