Sequoia National Park Foothill Trails: The Status and Plans

Plus an Update on Mountain Access During the Winter

Welcome winter snow has blanketed the mountain trails. Meanwhile, on the foothill trails, the ladybugs and newts are making their appearance, raptors are doing their spring dances above, and spring is just around the corner. Accordingly, Three Rivers Together has received numerous queries about the status of and plans for the foothill trails that have sustained considerable fire and storm damage. Our collaborators at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have responded with excellent information, some of which is certain to bring a smile.

NOTE: As always, SEKI recommends visitors visit their website for current conditions and information. Trail conditions can be found here: Trail Conditions – Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (U.S. National Park Service) (

Access to the mountain trails during the winter

Locals have been taking note of the road closure at Hospital Rock before, during, and after this year’s storms and wonder a) why, and b) if there is a new policy in place that they can use for planning purposes and relay to visitors.

There is no new policy in place associated with recent road closures from Hospital Rock to the Giant Forest. For each closure, several factors are considered. Recently, storm forecasts have called for snow to fall overnight and in quantities that would create hazardous driving conditions, and potentially even make the road impassible. While seemingly mild in the foothills, some of these forecasts have called for formidable snow accumulations for Lodgepole and Grant Grove. We generally do not perform snow removal overnight. These preventative closures are meant to protect the public from potentially dangerous conditions when law enforcement, EMS personnel, and snow removal operators are off duty. Snow removal staff typically start work at 4am following these closures and work to reopen the road around 1pm, in collaboration with other work groups. Our road crews have worked hard to reopen the road as quickly as possible as the snow has subsided.

We urge all visitors to call the park information line to check road conditions prior to driving up, 559-565-3341 (dial 1, then 1 again). This phone line is updated as conditions change. Insider’s tip: staff is typically notified of current chain restrictions in each district by about 8:30am daily, as needed.

Our website is also a great resource, and we typically have an alert in place at the top listing any closures: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (U.S. National Park Service) (

South Fork Trails

The road leading to the South Fork campground and trailheads was destroyed during the Atmospheric River events of 2023. While the parks are evaluating repair possibilities for this area, those repairs will not be completed this year. Given the extent of the damage and concerns over the stability of slopes above the campground, priority has been placed on repairs and restoration of public use in heavily visited areas of the parks ahead of the South Fork area. We recommend that anyone wanting to park and hike in the South Fork area, ensure that vehicles are parked legally – fully off the road and not impeding traffic. Hikers should be prepared for route finding challenges and have experience navigating remote hard to follow trails. 

Ladybug Trail: 12/12/2023 –  Road to the trailhead is rough and not accessible due to storm damage a mile from the trail head. Parking is very limited. Cross directly north across ravine to reach the trailhead (sign crushed by a tree). Trail is slightly overgrown but in good condition to Whiskey Log turn-off.

Garfield Trail: 12/12/2023 –  Road to the trailhead is rough and not accessible due to storm damage a mile from the trail head. Parking is Very limited. Trail washed out by multiple landslides within first mile of the trail.

North Fork Trails

Colony Mill Trail: The lower portion of Colony Mill Trail (North Fork to Admiration Point) is open. The upper portion remains closed to the public due to damage from the KNP fire. Trail crews performed extensive work on this trail following the fire to reopen the lower portion. Currently, this trail is part of the parks’-maintained trail network. Crews plan on revisiting this trail during the winter (as much as they can from the bottom) and later in the spring from the top as road repairs to Crystal Cave Road allow.  12/12/2023 – Closed from Admiration Point to Crystal Cave Road due to impacts from the 2021 KNP Complex Fire.

North Fork Trail: This is a maintained trail but only for a short distance. This trail suffered extensive damage and a collaboration of internal and external resources are currently planning on working on repairs beginning in February.

Oriole Lake Trail

[Editor’s Note: This road underwent very significant damage during last winter’s storms. Although it is negotiable on foot, several sections are washed out and there isn’t a trail, let alone a road, in some sections.] Due to wilderness designation, the park does not maintain or make repairs to the Oriole Lake Road. The park would evaluate any repair proposal from a private landowner using this road for property access.

Bikes are not permitted on the Oriole Lake Road, as it is in wilderness.

Shepherd’s Saddle Road

The park will be repairing Shepherd Saddle Road. Like the South Fork triaging, this road was not as high a priority as other areas to repair. 

Bikes remain permitted on Shepherd Saddle Road.

[SOURCE: Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, SEKI Public Affairs]