Copper Creek Trail – Kings Canyon National Park

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Location Kings Canyon National Park
Elevation Gain 5,320 feet
Mileage 18.8 miles
Type Out and back
Background

Copper Creek Trail lies at Road’s End inside Kings Canyon National Park. To enter the park there is a $20 one time fee for 1-7 days or $30 annual pass. You can also get an annual pass for all National Parks in the US. The road is closed during the winter months. Check Current Conditions before you head into the park.

Highway 180 is a beautiful scenic drive that I would recommend stopping at some sites along the way in or out. If you have time there is a loop called “Majestic Mountain Loop” that can be done, pick one or do all 3 days.

I bought the book below after this trip, because I was so inspired to find out what else is in our beautiful Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. I have used the book to plan many trips since.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks: Your Complete Hiking Guide

Here is Seki’s Wilderness Trip Planner to see other hikes in the area. Page 7 has Copper Creek Trail’s short description on it. There are no campfire’s above 10,000 feet, but there are at Lower Tent Meadow. Be sure to check restrictions that may be in place (like no fires at all) before you head out.

Directions

From Highway 99, exit onto Kings Canyon Highway 180 E until the road literally ends. The entrance to the park is about 53 miles after getting onto Highway 180 E. There will be a split in the road 1.7 miles after entering the park. Make sure to stick to the left and stay on the 180 E. The road is very windy, be careful of fallen rocks. The trail starts on the north side of the overnight parking at Roads End.

Permits

To obtain permits for this trail fill out the Wilderness Permit Application. The fastest way to get back the application is to email it, but faxing is available.

Maps

When you enter the park they will give you a map of the park: SEKI Map.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Recreation Map (Tom Harrison Maps)
Sequioa Kings Nation National Park Topo Map (National Geographic)
Stats

Tent Meadow campsite

Trailhead 5,040 ft 0 miles
7,840 ft 4.1 miles
The Lip 10,360 ft 7.6 miles
Description

This was our First Annual Taking it Eazy Hike as we call our annual labor day, memorial day hikes. We wanted to get away from the Labor Day traffic and craziness in LA, so we jumped into our cars and went out into the wilderness for a couple days. We call the hike taking it eazy, because we don’t actually take it easy. Yes, on this United States Federal Holiday, Americans usually relax, celebrate or observe the economic and social achievements of our workers. The major part we Americans celebrate is this, but the specifics are as follows: it was a labor union movement that advocated the eight-hour day movement: eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest.

We attempted to observe this holiday by going hiking in Kings Canyon National Park in order to advocate 3 days of twenty-four hours of recreation.

Day 1: Copper Creek Trailhead to un-named pond on Granite Creek
9.4 miles

The day started out quite slow as there were three blazing wildfires in the distance. Smoke obstructed much of our views and it was hot. Five of us headed up the mountain with trouble breathing. About an hour in our group turned into 3 as 2 decided to head back down the mountain to adjust. The climb was very steep almost climbing 700 feet per mile. The higher we got the air cleared out and you could see the views much better.

With the smoke under us, we could finally concentrate on the beauty around us and push forward on this tough hike. Switchback after switchback we went, almost stopping at every single switchback. About 4 miles in you’ll pass a nice little campsite Lower Tent Meadow. This is the first only campsite on the trail.

3 more miles to hit the highest point and it was already getting dark. We slowly trotted up the steep trail finally reaching the lip. It was about to get dark quickly. We took out our headlamps and continued as we still had a couple miles till Granite Lake. After a few minutes we all looked at each other and decided it was time to just find a camp. We never made it to Granite Lake, but we did find a small creek about 300 feet climb down on some rocks. This was quite interesting in the dark as we were climbing down boulders to find a good place to camp.

Finally, there it was we found the creek and traced back a few hundred feet into a nice meadow opening to set up our tents. Quickly we set up our tents and made dinner. We were out in seconds and it was the quietest night; possibly because we were exhausted.

Day 2: Granite Creek to Lower Tent Meadow
5.3 miles

When we woke up we realized we really didn’t see where we set up camp as it was completely dark. We unzipped our tents and it was absolutely breathtaking. We had set up our tents in a small meadow a few hundred feet from Granite Creek. It was absolutely perfect.

We decided that we would head back down to Lower Tent Meadow, where we would be able to have a fire. This gave us much time to relax near the creek. We made some coffee, gathered a few other items like fishing pole, sit pad and water pump. After setting our things down on a comfortable boulder, we cast out into the small pond for the first time ever. Guess what happened, literally not two seconds later we had caught a fish. So, we cast out again and again in a few seconds we caught another fish. We used some spices to cook it up and had it for lunch. I have a GSI Outdoors Spice Rocket that I use to take spices.

After eating, we decided to take a dip and there was a perfect rock to jump from into the small pond. New rule: jump in any body of water when backpacking. We packed up and headed out around 11:00 am. First off, we had to climb about 1,000 feet up on boulders. Once we finally found the trail, we were offered a vast view of the Granite Basin. It was much clearer than the day before. It was all downhill from here and we reached our camp no less than a couple hours later.

First thing we did was collect our wood for the campfire, set up our tents and pumped water. We found some longer sticks that we carved in order to use for the sausages we brought to put over the fire. We brought out Bende Hungarian Sausage and cooked it over the fire that night; mmmm that was delicious.

Day 3: Lower Tent Meadow to Copper Creek Trailhead
The next day, we woke up early as we were headed all the way home. It’s funny you would have thought that this would have been the easiest day, and it was headed on our journey down the mountain. You know what? We thought this was going to be the easiest part of our hike. Well, it was. We however did not get a peaceful journey down. 1. The smoke from the three wildfires thickened since the first day. 2. Headache from the fires. 3. Millions of horseflies slamming into are faces and up our noses.

We used our hands like windshield wipers and literally ran down the trail. I have never really been agitated by bugs, but this was beyond annoying. It was at the bottom of the trailhead when the three of us could finally sit down and breathe. This was the longest hike we had done, more to come for sure. Out of the 72 hours, I would only delete the last four hours and go back to menu and replay over and over again.


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