Kings Canyon National Park, California
The following is a hike discussed in detail by Riley Smith on his new audiocast, Broken Laces: A Hiker’s Podcast.
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Most who arrive at Roads End Ranger Station in Kings Canyon National Park end up doing the popular Rae Lakes loop, which in of itself, is an amazing Sierra Nevada trail.
For a more strenuous and less-traveled hike, head to the Copper Creek trailhead.
This is not a day-hike. You’ll put the effort in at the beginning to enjoy near solitude, granite crag, and alpine lakes at every turn. To start, the ascent is steep. You spend the first 7.5 miles climbing 6,000 feet, gaining great views of the valley below (including the Sphinx) until you reach the Lip. At that point, feel free to go off trail and find a campsite at a nearby lake (ex. Grouse Lake). You just did the hard part!
Now, you can use this as a basecamp, because you have several day hikes available. Spend some time at Granite Lake perched on its own plateau, or follow the ridge line along Goat Crest and across several glacial alpine lakes. Bring your favorite route-finding devices and skills as you can truly make your own adventure at 10,000+ feet. At this point, you may not see anyone, so soak your feet in a lake, go for a swim, or just enjoy the serene landscapes that the Sierras provide.
Should you want to make a loop of it, you can pick up basecamp and finish out Kennedy Canyon, where you’ll end up back at Cedar Grove Village. You’ll be several miles away from your car, so either be comfortable with hitchhiking, or have two cars available to shuttle yourself from trailhead to trailhead.
For the full story on how two intermediate hikers prepared for this hike and how they tackled this trail, listen to Broken Laces‘ episode 1 on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or you favorite podcast provider.