What you’ll need:
- Sunscreen, sun glasses, hats, etc. (Because you are hiking through an area that was deforested by a logging company in the late 1800s, there are areas with very little shade).
- Water ( It’s nearly a two mile hike and with the altitude, everyone will be thirsty).
- Snack (This helped keep the kids moving when they started to get a little tired or restless).
Always remember to clean up after yourself, and leave our beautiful forest nicer than you found it!
Though Rob and I have both enjoyed the occasional hike with friends now and then, it’s not really an activity we have pursued. I often opt for hanging out in nature, having a picnic or reading a book on the deck of a cabin, to a more active hike. However, after our recent hike with the kids at Big Stump Trail, I think this is an activity we will be turning to much more often. With our big annual family trip just a month away, we wanted to make sure the kids could handle a hike before we took them exploring somewhere in Kauai only to find that they were not up for the challenge. They totally surpassed our expectations on this outing, and we even foresee a future in trail running for Miss Bridget.
All of this to say, our family has very little experience hiking and we had a wonderful time on this 1.8 mile hike. If you are in the Central California area and looking for a fun and easy adventure for the family, we highly recommend a day trip up to Kings Canyon National Park to explore Big Stump Loop Trail!
We took our trip on a clear day in late February. It hadn’t snowed in a while but there was still lots of snow on the ground which added to the beauty of the trail. We had a quick picnic lunch at the tables at the entrance to the trail along the parking lot. (This is our favorite place to picnic in Kings Canyon NP – so far – because it is just beyond the main gate and we are usually ready for lunch after the drive up from Fresno. Plus there are four tables that are covered in case you decide to picnic during a storm and there are decent multi-stalled restrooms all right there. All good things… especially with kiddos!)
It was really cold when we first started the hike, but as we made our way along the trail the sun came out and it warmed up quite a bit… notice the disappearing layers of clothing throughout the pictures. Despite the chill, this was a great time to visit because there weren’t that many people and the snow really enhanced the beautiful landscape… plus it was an added bonus for the kids to get to hike through patches of snow.
One thing that was really cool about this hike for all of us were the unexpected discoveries along the way. I suppose that is probably true for most hikes, but the impressive and unique stumps of many Giant Sequoias provided both a playground and also a classroom to explore these incredible trees and consider the impact of logging on our forests.
Most of the trail is very easy to follow, but with the snow there was a section that was a little unclear. So a tip: When you reach the meadow (pictured above) continue to the left as the trail circles the meadow rather than crossing it.
All along the way there are trees to explore and climb in, that our kids absolutely loved! The tree below has been deemed the Castle Tree (by us) because of its shape, and was definitely Kellan’s favorite. Sections of the tree were hollowed out allowing him to climb through this giant trunk and look down at us from his watch tower.
As I mentioned before, the trail did get a little difficult to find when you reach the meadow and I have since read that if there is a lot of snow it can be even more challenging. Apparently the main time to hike is May through October. If you go up in the winter or early spring and there has been some snow just be cautious.
The grand finale of the loop is the Mark Twain stump that has stairs that allow you to climb up and explore the remains of this Giant Sequoia that took 13 days to be cut down and was then shipped to New York and London simply to prove its existence. We really enjoyed the freedom we had to explore these trees in nature even though it really felt like something that one could only experience in a museum… and I guess if you lived in Europe or the East Coast in the late 19th century, that was the only way to see these wonders of nature.
We are grateful to have these amazing natural wonders in “our backyard”.