Last Hikes in Sequoia
Part Three of our Spring Break Series
Our last day in Sequoia National Park turned out nothing like we planned. This spring, we were navigating two kinds of closures. Parts of the park were closed because there was still snow to be navigated. Parts of the park were closed because there was still a pandemic to manage. Either way, we weren’t able to get to some of the hikes I thought our family would enjoy. Then it turned out we weren’t able to get to a hike the ranger suggested.
We started in the picnic area across from Hospital Rock. Archeologists have found evidence of humans living near the Kaweah River as early as 1350, and native people have tended and valued the land within Seqoia National Park and the Sierra Nevada mountains and still maintain deep connections to the parks to this day. The pictographs at Hospital Rock were created by the Potwisha people, and nearby their bedrock mortars also remain. Pictographs are painted onto the surface of rock, as opposed to petroglyphs, which are carved into the surface of a rock. The park has created display signage to teach visitors about the Potishwa and the history of people living in the park, and that gave us some context for what we saw. It’s awe inspiring to see the pictographs and consider how long people have stood where you are standing, and what day to day life would have been like for the creators of the art. It’s also impressive to realize these pictures have survived the snow, rain and sun for hundreds of years. We were the only visistors this particular morning and I appreciated the chance for a few moments of quiet study.
The next hike we planned to take was along Paradise Creek. A ranger suggested we could park at Buckeye Flat Campground, and start our walk there. However, after driving a particularly narrow road, we discovered there is no parking at Buckeye Flat unless you have camping reservations. As we retraced our path up the narrow road, we realized this was not going to be a hiking option.
Instead, we explored the small marked trail next to Hospital Rock, which led down to the Kaweah River. This was a short excursion, probably less than a quarter mile, but we had fun scrambling over rocks and dipping hands into the water where it gathered in a big pool. The water here comes through a tunnel in the boulders, and steps lead up to an overlook, where you can see the path of the river in both directions. A few other hikers were scrambling along downriver. The conditions on this hike will vary widely with the seasons, as the river rises and falls, so you’ll need to make smart choices based on the water level when you visit.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in our campground, resting and playing tag and eating left overs. That night RV spots in the campground were entirely full, and we had a few disruptive neighbors. We were ready to head home the next day.
Here’s the video version of our visit to Hospital Rock and the Kaweah River: