This is a continuation of Four perfect days in Kings Canyon – Roads End to Sphinx Creek.
Day 4 – Roads End to Lower Tent Meadows
After hiking on at least partially the same trails the prior two days, we decided it would be good to take a new direction from Roads End…to the north. The Copper Creek trail starts in the same parking lot that we used for Mist Falls and Sphinx Creek, and heads north from the Canyon floor toward the lesser-known/accessible parts of Kings Canyon National Park. Taken far enough, it forms a loop that meets the John Muir Trail.
Hot and dry
The first section of the trail faces south and is continually in the sun during daylight hours, making the trail dry, dusty and nearly void of shade. To enjoy the trail means passing through this part early and quickly. Once on the north-facing wall of Copper Creek Canyon, shade trees are the norm and the trail becomes less sandy and much more comfortable. This hike is in a much broader canyon than the others and the views are less of glacier-scoured rock and more of alpine meadows.
As we passed the halfway point on our hike, we walked through several large meadows that were full of flowers as though it was April instead of August. Just like the day before, we needed to keep moving to avoid the various insects that stayed away as long as we hiked but quickly found us as soon as we stopped. We even ate our lunch of sandwiches, granola bars and oranges as we walked just to avoid the insect issue. We met only three lone hikers during the course of our four-hour hike, and each seemed tired and weary of walking. The last one we met seemed delirious and we suspected was dehydrated, as his water bottles hung empty from his pack, his speech was slurred, and he repeated himself several times as he told us his story. We tried to give him water but he refused our offers. Knowing he was near the end of the trail, we wished him well and moved on.
Returning to Roads End
The return to Roads End was uneventful and significantly faster than the steady uphill climb of the morning. We passed through the hot and dry section with significantly less discomfort on the way down, and were at The Beach and jumping off Muir Rock by early afternoon. This hike was the perfect way to spend the last full day of our trip, and was thankfully shorter than the tough climb the day before.
Closing out four perfect days
Kings Canyon is an excellent place to spend four or more days. It is within five hours of Los Angeles and is a world apart from the Eastern Sierras. Uncrowded, Kings Canyon is frequented mostly by families from other parts of California and serious hikers spending days or weeks on the trail. Its eastern part touches the John Muir Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, making it a great place to enter or exit these much longer hikes. Beyond the great trails, Muir Rock and The Beach at Roads End are great places to relax and enjoy the South Fork Kings River. We highly recommend you enjoy it as much as we do.