Hiking out to an Icy Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park
Wintertime weather in the Sequoia Giant Forest followed this pattern when we visited: A beautiful clear morning, followed by an afternoon snowstorm (complete with a gray fog obscuring any distant vista), and then the snow would slowly peter out, the clouds breaking in the middle of the night to allow all the warmer air to float away – leaving us with a frigid night under the stars.
Curtis and I made the journey out to Morro Rock on our first full day in the park, before we observed this pattern. We had taken our time in the morning, treating ourselves to a warm breakfast at the Wuksachi Lodge. Hot coffee, potatoes, eggs, and perfectly made oatmeal… and we could postpone cleaning the Thanksgiving mess out of our cast iron! We paid for our leisurely breakfast in missed vista opportunities, although who can really predict the weather?
My suggestion is to get started on breakfast earlier, maybe 7 or 8 am. The Wuksachi Lodge breakfast ends early in the winter anyhow – we were barely allowed in the dining area at 9am. Then hurry up to your chosen vista point before the storm start in. On the return trip then you can enjoy a leisurely walk/snowshoe among the sequoias scattered around the Giant Forest as the big flakes start to fall.
Snowshoe the Giant Forest to Hanging and Moro Rock
Trailhead: Park at Giant Forest Museum lot, and head to the unplowed road to the right of the Museum vistor/bus drop off loop. The road was packed down by many past hikers. Use the side trails or venture off trail for better snowshoeing. Map
Distance: About 6 miles round trip if you take a nice unfocused excursion: Hanging Rock, Moro Rock, loop out to Roosevelt Tree, and a side trip to the Auto Log. We stayed near the paved road and on the more packed down trails because of the incoming snow storm, but the side trails in this area could make for a nice extended loop if you have a good map. Topo Map
I chose Moro Rock as our first destination in the park because it seemed super popular, like one of the quintessential things to do as a first time visitor to Sequoia. The hike up and on the rock does seem like a Pinterest-worthy little stretch of trail. Albeit, like I said before, a little socked in during the winter storm.
As always, during the winter in California’s national parks there was a spectacular amount of elbow room on the trail. Yes, there was still a fair share of people on the Thanksgiving weekend, but I can imagine the stairs leading to Moro Rock overflowing in the busy season. Here, if you brave the icy steps, you can get a solo photo of the location.
Final tip for this trail, bring your YakTrax (or other snow-cleat), if you have them, to help grip these ice covered stairs. They are pretty terrifying, especially on the descent. At least there are some nice safe sequoias to enjoy on the hike back.
More photos from this hike/snowshoe in the galley below. Next up: Snowshoe report from the frozen Tokopah Falls. See my past post about snow camping in Sequoia here.