Moro Rock may not immediately come to mind when you think of visiting Sequoia National Park. There is no doubt that the most common reason for visiting this park is because of the trees, and they are impressive. But these trees only grow at an elevation between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, providing the opportunity for amazing views when you are able to get out of the tree cover.
Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park is one such place. It has amazing views, and provided you can navigate through the crowds it only takes a few minutes to get to from where you park your vehicle. Though it requires a bit of stair climbing, you are sure to find this part of the park amazing and well worth your time.
If you have the ability to climb a few stairs in the high elevation, Moro Rock is a highly recommended stop in Sequoia National Park!
MORO ROCK TRAIL DETAILS
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Distance: 0.4 miles (round-trip)
- Trail: Out-and-back
- Elevation gain: 187 feet
- Peak elevation reached: 6,659 feet
- Best time of year to hike: Late spring to late fall
- To beat the crowds: Arrive before 7:30 am or after 7:00 pm
- Footwear: Sneakers
- Watch out for: Mosquitoes, sun exposure
- Restrooms: Located at the trailhead, but not on the trail
- Pets: Not allowed
- Time needed: 30 minutes
The Moro Rock Trail is great to see, but there is so much more inside of the park to see and do. We have a great downloadable itinerary for Sequoia National Park. This covers the best hikes, where to stay, how to get to the park and what to do in the area aside from just vising the park. It’s a thorough guide that you’ll be glad you have with you to help you figure out how to best spend your time in the park!
PARKING AND TRAILHEAD FOR MORO ROCK
Map of the Moro Rock parking area, courtesy of the National Park Service
Moro Rock is easy to get to, particularly if you are allowed to take your private vehicle to the parking area (which depends on the time of year). The parking area is just off the Moro Rock / Crescent Meadow Road. From CA-198 (the Generals Highway), you’ll turn east (right if coming from the south) onto Crescent Meadow Road. Continue on the road for 1.7 miles (taking a right at the first junction about 1.5 miles in) and follow the signs to the Moro Rock parking lot.
- Directions from the Giant Forest to the Moro Rock Trail (this will take about 6 min without traffic).
- Directions from Grant Grove Village to the Moro Rock Trail (this will take about 75 minutes with traffic).
Because this road is shared with several other hikes, the Tunnel Log and a few other viewpoints, the road can be very busy. Because of this, the park starts to offer shuttle service from 8 AM to 7 PM on busy days, including weekends and holidays in the summertime. These shuttles depart from the Giant Forest Museum and will take you to the Moro Rock parking area and Crescent Meadow.
It’s important to know that you can only access this road the week before Memorial Day (usually opening on the Wednesday beforehand) due to the snow, and it closes typically in November due to the snow.
The parking area for Moro Rock is quite small, with fewer than 20 parking spots. When we visited, we happened to get here before 7 AM. There were only two cars in the parking lot in total. When we finished our hike about 30 minutes later, the lot was starting to fill up in the rush ahead of the road being closed for shuttle service only.
There are restrooms at the trailhead and no restrooms while you are out on the trail (as it is so short, you should be fine).
MORO ROCK TRAIL: TRAIL SURFACE AND ACCESSIBILITY
- Trail surface. The trail is mostly granite or concrete stairs. If you are here in the warmer months of the year, hiking boots or traction are not needed. If you come when it’s icy, be prepared with crampons or microspikes as the penalty for slipping is high.
- Accessibility. The trail is not wheelchair accessible and not recommended for hikers who are not sure on their feet.
PREPARATION FOR HIKING THE MORO ROCK TRAIL
Since the hike is short, there isn’t much in the way of preparation that you need to do. Still, there are a few items that we recommend:
- Water. You won’t need much, but you likely want to bring some water with you. If you are not used to exercising at this altitude, it will come in handy.
- Binoculars. The view from the top is great, and binoculars can help enhance your experience by allowing you to more easily find the landmarks pointed out by the interpretive signs at the top.
- Sun Protection. The top of the rock is exposed, so be sure to bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock with you, even if you only plan on being on the top for a few minutes.
HIKING TO MORO ROCK
To call this a “hike” may be a bit generous if you look at the distance. Hardly is a 0.4-mile round trip usually considered a hike. However, the climb does involve a total elevation gain of 187 feet at over a mile above seal level, so calling it a hike is definitely appropriate. When you are finished, you should definitely feel a sense of accomplishment!
The trail departs the parking area immediately to the south and heads up in elevation immediately. The slope is constant for the first 0.1 miles before increasing in grade for most of the remainder of the hike.
Along the way there are several spots to stop and take in the views. There are plenty of handrails along the route to help you feel a bit more confident in yourself, but be advised that there are drop-offs that are over 1,000 feet. If you are afraid of heights, this is not the trail for you!
Once you arrive at the top of Moro Rock, you’ll have incredible views of the Great Western Divide. While you can’t see Mount Whitney from here, you can see a number of tall peaks (including Mount Kaweah, at 13,802 feet). The Kaweah Valley sits deep below.
The top of the trail is narrow, but the viewing area is quite long. This is a great place to savor the views, and seeing sunrise or sunset from this spot is truly amazing. Sunset in particular is a very popular time of day to be in this hike, so be ready for crowds. Sunrise is generally very quiet and a peaceful time of day to be on the peak.
Moro Rock is made of granite, and it got its shape from exfoliation, which is the shedding of sheets of rock over time. Eventually the rock will erode away a lot more, but for now (and likely the next tens of thousands of years) it is here for us to enjoy!
Heading back is easy and goes quickly. Resist the urge to go too fast, though, as you will have to be mindful of other hikers coming up. Also, we found small amounts of dirt and gravel on the stairs to make the footing a bit slippery if you went too rapidly on your way down.
MORO ROCK TRAIL: TOP LIKES AND DISLIKES
- Breathtaking Views. The views from the top of Moro Rock really are amazing.
- A Unique Experience for Sequoia. As stated earlier, you come to Sequoia expecting to be in trees the entire time (at least we did!). This is a surprising change of scenery from being in the forest!
- Parking Area Accessibility. We understand the need for shuttles-there is no question on that! But since this is a very populated area, the shuttle does extend the amount of time it takes to experience this part of the park. Don’t let that dissuade you from going, though-it is well worth the stop, whether you have to wait for a shuttle or not.
THINGS TO DO NEAR THE MORO ROCK TRAIL
If you are lucky enough to be in the area of Moro Rock, then hiking to the top is only part of what you should see while you are in the area. We also recommend the following:
- Stopping at the Auto Log is worth your time. You haven’t been able to drive over it since the 1930’s, but you can still see this amazing fallen tree that used to be a road for cars. Be sure to also check out the Tunnel Log, which you can drive through with your car!
- Check out the Parker Group. This is a cluster of sequoias right near the road that are really easy to access.
- Crescent Meadow is at the end of the road. We loved this part of the park, especially early in the morning when it wasn’t busy at all. It is a 1.8-mile hike around the loop, but you can also see part of the meadow without walking in too far.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK AND THE SURROUNDING AREA FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- Ahead of your trip, be sure to get a copy of our continuously updated Sequoia National Park Itinerary and the itinerary for Kings Canyon National Park.
- Be sure to read our article on What to See and Do in Sequoia National Park. We also have a blog on Sequoia National Park Campgrounds that can help you pick the best campground to visit while you are in the park-there are many to choose from! Finally, another great hike in the park that we wrote about is the Tokopah Falls Trail as well as one that covers hiking Crescent Meadows.
- If you like the old style WPA style posters, check out our collection of posters for sale, including our Sequoia National Park poster.
- If you like National Park artwork, then you’ll love our product that allows you to create a vintage style travel poster from a photo. This truly unique product is a great gift or way of remembering your vacations!