2019 Rambler Hikes Page 3

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Rambler Hike 2017          Rambler Hikes 2018         2019 Part 1          2019 Part 2


Panoramic Trail & Grant Grove          Nelder Grove          Hume Lake


Panoramic Trail & Grant Grove

On September 9 a small group of Ramblers returned once again to Kings Canyon National Park, this time for a couple of easy hikes. Our first destination was the Panoramic Point Trail, about two miles up a narrow, steep road above Grant Grove Village. A quarter-mile paved trail leads to a dramatic vista of the park's back country, a seemingly endless panorama of domes, sharp granite peaks, and wilderness, set off by a view of Hume Lake a short distance below.

Hume Lake, the deep gorge of Kings Canyon, and high Sierra peaks Mt. Goddard, 13,500 feet above sea level

Most visitors return to the parking lot after enjoying the view, but a well-maintained dirt route, known as the Park Ridge Trail, leads to the south two miles to a fire lookout. Since our goal was to have an easy hike this time, we did not plan to go all the way, but as far as we went we were rewarded with views of the high Sierra peaks through openings in the trees, with the smog of the San Joaquin valley rendering our view to the west very hazy.

Buck Rock left foreground, and Sequoia Park back country The Ramblers: Dick, Allen, Ardyss, and Wes

Except for a log that had fallen across the trail at a sharp angle, offering no good bypass route, and requiring some contortions to get over, the trail was indeed easy, with gentle ups and downs as it followed the ridge. The environment along the trail offered constant enjoyment, with some dramatic rock formations, huge fir and pine trees, and plenty of manzanita, chaparral and chinquapin bushes.

When we returned to the car we drove down to Grant Grove Village where we enjoyed a great lunch at the restaurant.

We had planned to make this a two-part hike, so after lunch we drove the short distance to the Grant Grove parking lot, and walked a short loop trail through the huge sequoias. The General Grant Tree is the star of the show, the second largest in the the Kings Canyon-Sequoia Park complex, and well deserving if its designation as the Nation's Christmas Tree.

A huge fractured boulder Wes, Ardyss and Allen stroll among the sequoias
The General Grant Tree Four big sequoias by the Grant Grove parking lot

Wes summarized the outing as follows:

Today four Ramblers had a great time hiking in Kings Canyon National Park. We wanted it all: easy hikes with lots of beauty. And we got it! We started with a two mile round trip hike along the Panorama Trail above Grant Grove Village. We had vistas in both directions: East into Kings Canyon and west to the valley floor. The problem of viewing the valley starts with an S and ends with a G. You got it - smog. The blackened sky above Fresno was not inviting to either the eye or the camera lens. In contrast, the eastern sky was clear with interesting views of Hume Lake and beyond.

After finishing this first hike, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant in Grant Grove Village. I won't tell you what we ate lest you jump in your car and drive to Kings Canyon tonight. Let's just say it was good and satisfying. Afterwards, we drove the short distance to the Grant Grove trail to view some of the largest sequoias in the park. For those of you have have been there, you know it's a temple of beauty. One wants to tip-toe along this trail making as little noise as possible. We left these mountains fully satisfied, knowing we will be back again, again.

--Wes and Dick, September 2019

More Photos

Nelder Grove
by Dick & Wes

Wes: It was time, the season was right and we were ready for the fall colors. On October 23, six of us drove to Nelder Grove above Oakhurst to hike both the Bull Buck and Chimney Tree Trails. I kept saying, "it's like walking Christmas Tree Lane, seeing the multi-colored leaves through the light of the sun." 

Dogwood Tree Lane Dogwood leaves and fir trees

Dick: Our group of six included Wes, Dick, Ardyss, Allen, Pati, and Gloria. We took the longer trail from the campground to the Bull Buck, enjoying fall color on the black oaks and shrubs. Although I took the obligatory photo of the Bull Buck, I have had better results in the past. On the Chimney Tree Trail we enjoyed the few large sequoias, including the Old Forester, a tall, stately specimen, the California Tree, and the Chimney Tree. You can walk through the burned out base, gaze up at the blue sky, and also observe that the tree is still living despite the hardships it has faced.

The Old Forester Dick at the Chimney Tree

Wes: We wanted to stay in the forest so we picked up sandwiches in Oakhurst and enjoyed a picnic by the waters of California Creek. And when we finished our lunch, we still hadn't got our fill of the forest. So we followed the creek down stream to enjoy two magnificent waterfalls.

Dick: The best waterfall drops down twenty feet of cascades to the main road, about a mile from the campground. After our walk along the creek from the campground, we drove down there for a look. None of the other Ramblers had ever been to that spot. In addition to the falls, I pointed out a decaying pile of sawdust from the sawmill that operated in that area in the late 1800s.


Wes climbed down into the creek canyon to get this shot

Gloria on a slightly wobbly log bridge over a small creek on the trail


Wes: We eventually had to turn toward home and topped our day with homemade ice cream at Reimer's in Oakhurst.  We all took way too many pictures and a few of them appear below.

Dick: I have to get in the last word, so I want to thank Wes for providing such excellent photos over the years, and all of the Ramblers for following me down some trails that would give pause to less adventurous folks.

--October 2019

Hume Lake

The "original" Ramblers (Wes, Julie, Carolyn and Dick) hiked at Hume Lake in September of 2016, Now that a bunch of new folks have joined us, it was time to go back to this beautiful lake, set in the evergreen forest of the Giant Sequoia National Monument at the 4,000 foot elevation.

Early November is usually too late for this area, mainly because the road rises up over 6,000 feet before dropping down to the lake. However, it's been unseasonably warm this fall, with no snow or rain in sight. On November 4 we drove up in two cars, passing through the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon National Park and back out to this old log pond, which now hosts a Christian camp, rental cabins, and a 3.25 mile hiking trail that goes all around the lake.

Hume Lake, with Middle Fork of the Kings River in the background Rock formations above the Middle Fork canyon

The earlier report gives plenty of information about the location, history and general layout of the area, so I won't repeat that. Instead, I'll just offer some of the views that Pati, Wes and I captured, and finish up with Wes's usual post-hike comment.


A lone fisherman enjoys the quiet of autumn Willows provide color along the lake
Sandy Cove, where Ten Mile Creek runs into the lake An artistic vista by Wes
Ramblers near the beginning of the trail - Wes, Ardyss, Allen, Pati and Dick Ramblers at lunch in the Grant Grove restaurant

Wes: Although winter is fast approaching, we decided to hike Hume Lake before the snow falls. We brought extra clothes but the temperature was moderate. We had a relaxing day as we circumnavigated the lake. Water is being released at the dam to make room for winter runoff, resulting in a lower lake level. Every season has its beauty and we saw the color of that beauty today. Every step of that three plus miles was beautiful!. Most of the camping sites are closed for the winter, along with the facilities at the Christian Camp. So we drove back to Grant Grove for a late lunch at the Lodge. We topped off with Halloween candy from the Thiessens 

More Photos






Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window) 

Photos by Wes Thiessen, Ardyss Webster, Pati Soto, and Dick Estel

Panorama Trail & Gant Grove          Nelder Grove          Hume Lake
Panorama Trail & Grant Grove
The junction of the Middle and South Forks of the Kings River, and the mountains above Ripe gooseberries Another kind of berry
Sequoias and manzanita A magnificent sequoia specimen Top of the General Grant Tree
Nelder Grove
More color on Dogwood Tree Lane The obligatory Bull Buck photo  Wes demonstrates the size of the Bull Buck
Pati in the Chimney Tree The dead top of the California Tree Dogwood backlit by the sun
Gloria in the Chimney Tree Looking up a big sequoia Burnt snag and black oaks
Wes on the bridge Lunch at the campground Gloria and Pati at California Creek falls 
  The Bull Buck and dogwood  
Hume Lake
Blazing black oak The bridge over Ten Mile Creek Roots of a very determined manzanita
Ardyss and a weathered boulder View near the east end of the lake Willow getting ready for winter
Related Links
Kings Canyon National Park Panoramic Point Park Ridge Trail
Grant Grove General Grant Tree Wes Climbs the Boulder
Friends of Nelder Grove Nelder Grove Interpretive Area Dick's Nelder Grove Page
Big Ed Trail USFS Nelder Site Hume Lake
Hume Lake Trail Giant Sequoia National Monument Hume Lake Dam
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Updated December 15, 2019