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This trail travels through chaparral and oak grassland above the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. It leads in and out of the small drainages that empty into the Middle Fork Kaweah River from its northern bank. Opportunities to reach the river from this trail are few due to the steepness of the canyon that contains it, but because the trail remains high on the river bank views of the surrounding terrain abound. The trail leads into the backcountry of Sequoia National Park and can be used in conjunction with other trails to create a long backpacking or stockpacking trip.

The trailhead for Middle Fork Trail lies on the dirt road that leads eastward from Buckeye Flat Campground. Park at the trailhead and begin walking eastward. Within a few minutes you'll cross Moro Creek. This is one of few water sources with cover along this hot, exposed trail. From here the trail gains elevation climbing above the river and crossing another small stream within a half mile.

From the second stream crossing the trail descends slightly then begins climbing again. In the next mile and a quarter the trail ascends 560 feet to reach Panther Creek. Middle Fork Trail crosses the creek above an enthralling waterfall. (Be careful here as the granite above the waterfall is slippery.) The first backcountry camping area can be found around Panther Creek.

Continuing eastward from Panther Creek the trail ascends a few hundred feet then levels for a short distance. Three quarters of a mile from Panther Creek, Middle Fork Trail begins a lengthy ascent. In the next mile and a half the trail climbs from 4,160 feet to 4,800 feet. The climb is steady and across exposed terrain that can be prohibitively hot with a heavy pack. At the end of this climb the trail reaches Mehrten Creek. Backcountry campsites, as well as relief from the heat, can be found along this stream.

Walking eastward from Mehrten Creek the trail ascends 240 feet then descends slightly and ascends again into the next small drainage. The trail crosses the creek approximately one and a half miles from Mehrten Creek. The next half mile is relatively flat as the trail traverses the hillside then crosses another small drainage. The trail crosses yet another small, unnamed drainage descending slightly then ascending out of the valley.

Approximately three quarters of a mile from this stream crossing Middle Fork Trail splits. The right fork leads to Redwood Meadow and into the Cliff Creek drainage, that leads to Mineral King. The left fork follows the northern bank of the Middle Fork Kaweah River, leading to Little Bearpaw Meadow. (The left fork is not located on the Sequoia Kings National Park Brochure, but is marked on the Trails Illustrated map of the region.)

Directions: From Ash Mountain Entrance, Travel north on Highway 198 (Generals Highway) 6.5 miles to the road leading to Buckeye Flats Campground. Drive toward the campground and follow the dirt road to the left before entering it. The trailhead is one and a half miles eastward on the dirt access road. (During the winter months this road is closed adding three miles to your round-trip mileage.)

Elevation: 3,360 feet

Ending Elevation: 5,700 feet

Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet

Usage: Light

Difficulty: Moderate

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Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, California

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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