Moro Rock is a prominent granite protrusion on the edge of the Giant Forest visible to everyone driving up the Generals Highway into Sequoia National Park from the south. The hike up Moro Rock is a classic, composed of over 350 steps in a picturesque quarter mile climb. Its status as one of the most popular hikes in Sequoia National Park is well earned.
Moro Rock rises 6,725 feet above sea level, but hikers only have to climb the last 300 feet of that elevation to enjoy the vast panoramic views. The trail is half a mile round trip, crossing ledges that will give wobbly legs to anyone with a fear of heights.
Panels at the trailhead explain that Moro Rock began forming 100 million years ago when molten rock rose upward and cooled into granite. The movement of Moro Rock created earthquakes that assisted in the erosion of the surrounding material to expose the rock.
This trail (or staircase) has no junctions and is only wide enough for one hiker in several places. Make your way up the stairs, holding on the rock walls and railings that have been provided for your safety. While the hike to the top is short but steep. Any time you need to catch your breath you’ll discover fantastic views.
Along the trail, and from the top of Moro Rock, you can look west down a canyon carved by the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. The city of Three Rivers is visible at the bottom of the canyon, backed by Lake Kaweah and the hazy San Joaquin Valley. Nearer to Moro Rock, the Generals Highway weaves 3,000 feet up the side of the canyon. Hanging Rock can also be spotted, balancing on the rim of the canyon just west of Moro Rock.
East of Moro Rock are views up the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River toward the Great Western Divide of the High Sierra. This jagged wall of snowcapped peaks blocks Mount Whitney from sight (the highest point in the lower 48 states), but the visible peaks do not disappoint. Summits in view include Triple Divide Peak, Loin Rock, Mount Stewart, Lawson Peak, Kaweah Queen, Black Kaweah, Lippincott Mountain, and Mount Eisen (from north to south). As you progress up the trail, you’ll be able to see over the top of the Giant Forest to the north toward a couple more peaks, Alta Peak and Mount Silliman. Panels along the impressive trail will help you identify the surrounding landmarks.
The impressive system of stone carved steps and ramps was constructed in 1931 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. We have FDR’s new deal to thank for the impressive staircase, which is now listed in the national registry of historic places.
Hale Tharp (the one-time inhabitant of Tharp’s Log) was led to Moro Rock by Native Americans in 1858, and visitors have been enjoying the rock’s expansive views ever since. A century and a half of air pollution in the Central Valley has cut into the view Tharp would have seen. These days the coastal mountains are typically hidden behind the man-made haze. Taking that into account, the views from Moro Rock remain top notch. The sight to the east toward the High Sierra is inspiring. This short trail should be hiked by anyone visiting Sequoia National Park.
It is a bad idea to hike up Moro Rock in a lightning storm, but it would be smart to visit Moro Rock at sunset. The trailhead for the loop through Crescent Meadow is just a mile from Moro Rock and is a great trail to visit in combination with this one. You can actually hike to Crescent Meadow from Moro Rock on Sugar Pine Trail.
Dogs and mountain bikes are not allowed on the trail to Moro Rock. An entrance fee is required to visit the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, but no permit is needed to hike up Moro Rock, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Just south of the Giant Forest Museum, turn off the Generals Highway and head east on Crescent Meadow Road. After 1.5 miles, turn right and continue to the parking area beneath Moro Rock.
Trailhead address: Crescent Meadow Road, Sequoia National Park, CA 93262
Trailhead coordinates: 36.5469, -118.7656 (36° 32′ 48.8″N 118° 45′ 56.2″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Sierra Nevada trails and campgrounds.
|Hanging Rock Trail |
This short 0.35-mile hike passes views of Moro Rock en route to a balancing boulder on a canyon rim at the edge of the Giant Forest.
|Crescent Meadow |
This level 1.6-mile loop visits a Sequoia you can stand inside (Chimney Tree) and another that someone used to live in (Tharp's Log).
|Big Trees Trail |
This 1.4-mile stroll explores giant sequoias around Round Meadow on a paved nature trail that is easy, educational, and beautiful.
|Sugar Pine Trail and Bobcat Point Trail Loop |
This short but diverse 1.5-mile loop peaks at Bobcat Point, which presents a fierce perspective of Moro Rock and a massive canyon.
|Sunset Rock |
This 2-mile hike visits a large granite dome with great views to the west, possibly the best place to end your day in the Giant Forest.
|Beetle Rock |
This short walk from the Giant Forest Museum to Beetle Rock visits a granite dome with great views and stunning sunsets.
|General Sherman Tree |
This one-mile hike visits the world's biggest tree, a 275-foot tall Giant Sequoia that is 36.5 feet across at the base.
|Congress Loop |
This easy paved two mile loop visits the fourth and fifth tallest Sequoias in the world (among others).
|Tokopah Falls |
This 4.2-mile hike reaches the base of the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park.
|Marble Falls |
This 8-mile hike takes a flower-lined path up a mountain canyon to a powerful waterfall.
|Paradise Creek |
This short stroll leaves Buckeye Flats Campground to visit the perfect swimming hole for a hot summer day in the Sierra.
|Panther Creek |
This 6-mile hike follows the Middle Fork Trail to a 100 foot waterfall that drops into the Middle Fork of Kaweah River.
|More trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains|
Explore other destinations in Sequoia National Park and the rest of the range.
|Needles Lookout in Giant Sequoia National Monument |
This 5-mile hike visits a fire tower with unbeatable views of the region.
| Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Campgrounds |
There are 14 campgrounds with over 1,000 total sites spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.