Friday, August 29, 2014

Day Hike To Granite Basin Kings Canyon

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

The trailhead for this hike on the Copper Creek Trail is a two and a half hour drive from Fresno on Highway 180. At “Roads End” (5 miles past Cedar Grove) there is a one-way loop with the trail beginning at the north end of the loop, which is the longer-term parking area. The length of this hike depends on where you chose to turn back. I followed the trail down about halfway into Granite Basin in order to see the smaller lakes and that route was about 19 miles round trip. Because the total elevation gain is almost 6,000’, I would not recommend this distance as a day hike for most folks. The trail is well engineered and maintained so that while there is considerable climb, the grade is not severe compared to the Taboose Pass Trail. My hike was 5 hours outbound and 4 hours return.

 Looking East Up King's Canyon
 Looking West Down Kings Canyon
 Avalanche Peak And The Sentinel To The South

 Rear Paw Of Bear In Center

 The Sphinx

An early start is recommended to avoid the sections of switchbacks that are exposed. Much of the trail is through the woods, which provides some shade. As you climb, the mountains to the south begin to appear. Avalanche Peak and The Sentinel are due south. Water resupply is not dependable along the way this time of year. Resupply at each opportunity and expect no water above lower tent meadow. The early outbound views extend both west and east along King’s Canyon.

Granite Basin is aptly named with the initial view being a vast expanse of granite surrounding small alpine lakes. The initial view of the smaller lakes is not available until you begin to drop down into the basin. While this trail is more labor intensive than the same distance on the Bubb’s Creek Trail, I believe the views are worth the extra effort.

As usual, I did see a bear from the trail that walked away from me as I headed the opposite direction because of the switchbacks. I looked down but the bear was not to be seen again. I did see the bear tracks on the trail for quite some time as I ascended. I think bears prefer the trails also. I found the Tom Harrison Map Kings Canyon High Country to be a bit short on the mileage according to my GPS, but useful. I used my GPS to mark the water supply places (filtered) outbound and could then anticipate where they were on the inbound leg.

More graphics can be seen here:

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