Top Ten Parks for Spring

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
California poppies
California poppies. (Photograph courtesy of the Refuge Reporter)
Only in springtime view: Wildflowers in the foothills
Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, climbing

While California hikers are waiting and waiting for the snow to melt in the mountains, the lower-elevation foothills are at their glorious peak. So while there may be a deep snow cover over much of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the wildflowers and grasses of the foothills are in tender display. So go now, before the rains stop and the hills mellow into a gentle, rustling golden brown. And it gets hot.

Lady Bug Camp makes a good introduction to the foothills. This is a pleasant climb 750 feet over four miles that lifts you from scrubby chapparel into the oak-hardwood forest. If you want more of a workout, take a look at the Middle Fork Trail to Panther Creek. This is a 18-mile in and out trip that follows the canyon rim above the Kaweah River. The perspective at times is spine-tingling.

On your hike, you're practically guaranteed to run across wildlife. Coyotes, gray fox, bobcats, raccoons, and ringtails are around, and before the snowmelt at higher elevations, so are many deer. Birdlife in this part of California is rich. Bring your binoculars, and spend some time relaxing as you watch hawks circling high above on warm air currents.

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