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Middle Fork Trail

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 5.0 (1)

A secluded and mostly mellow trail following the magnificent power and peace of the Kings River


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Map Key

24.2

Miles

38.9

KM

Point to Point

8,057' 2,456 m

High

4,126' 1,258 m

Low

3,584' 1,092 m

Up

4,288' 1,307 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (4°)

70%

Max Grade (35°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Cave · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Description

From East to West, this is a relatively easy route, except for the Westernmost leg of the trail. This is likely the least-traveled area of the park, and you may complete the whole thing without seeing another soul.

From the JMT junction, Palisade Creek can be a very easy or very dangerous crossing, depending on the time of year. If the crossing at the trail seems sketchy, make your way ~ 1000' upstream where you can cross to an island and then cross by log from the island to the opposite bank.

The trail from the creek crossing to Simpson Meadow is pretty easy with some great views of the river. There are a few very high steps, and a lot of the trail is rolling ups and downs. This trail is also minimally maintained, and may be overgrown with brush depending on the year.

Simpson Meadow is the picture of peace and a favorite place of all who frequent Kings Canyon National Park.

In 2011, a resource team camped at the base of the giant cottonwoods near the south bank of the Middle Fork. In the middle of the night, one of the trees that had been leaning in the direction of the river had its roots eroded by the water in such a way that it swung around and fell away from the river, coming to rest with limbs on either side of one crew member's tent. Always be careful and vigilant of hazards when camping.

To get to Tehipite, disregard the sign at the junction with the Simpson Meadow Trail. You must cross the Middle Fork to find the well-defined Middle Fork Trail to Tehipite on the north bank. The best crossing is at the west end of Simpson Meadow where the river is broad and shallow. In the couple miles before Blue Canyon Creek, the trail temporarily aligns with a creek bed and can be difficult to follow.

As you drop in elevation, be aware of poison oak, rattlesnakes, and scorpions. Make sure your tent zips closed.

Tehipite Valley is almost eerie in the shadow of the enchanting Tehipite Dome. You can find native petroglyphs, abandoned copper mines, prospector's cave etchings, and much more. The swimming is incredible. There's a great invasive blackberry patch.

The Middle Fork Trail from Tehipite Valley to Sierra National Forest is known as The Son of a Bitch. It gains over 3000' in 1.5 miles, is sandy, dangerously steep, and covered in poison oak at the base. It is remote and virtually unmaintained. "Angels in the Wilderness" is a book about a near death falling from this trail.

Flora & Fauna

The area is heavily populated by black bears and has mountain lions, so you'll want to remain alert while you're here.

Contacts

Shared By:

Sophie Carrillo-Mandel

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote

#1282

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Trail Rankings

#163

in California

#1,282

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61 Views Last Month
3,282 Since Sep 8, 2015
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Photos

Tehipite Valley from the Middle Fork Trail.
Dec 26, 2015 near Squaw V…, CA
Awesome granite formations across the Middle Fork Trail, on the way to Tehipite.
Dec 25, 2015 near Big Pine, CA
The treacherous SoB section of the Middle Fork Trail.
Dec 26, 2015 near Squaw V…, CA
The former bridge over the Middle Fork is no longer there, this is why you must cross the river upstream of Simpson Meadow. It's also not a bad place to dip your feet!
Dec 26, 2015 near Big Pine, CA
The Middle Fork of the Kings River as it rushes near the appropriately named Middle Fork Trail.
Dec 26, 2015 near Big Pine, CA
You'll cross Crown Creek on the Middle Fork Trail as you make your way through the Tehipite Valley.
Dec 25, 2015 near Squaw V…, CA

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