The Alta Trail leads to the summit of Alta Peak, which lies in western Sequoia National Park. The trail can be accessed via Wolverton parking area, General Sherman Tree or Giant Forest Area. This description details the trip via Wolverton parking area and Panther Gap.
From the trailhead follow Lakes Trail eastward along the Wolverton Creek drainage. Hike almost two miles to a trail junction at 8,000 feet. The trail to Alta Peak leads southward to Panther Gap. It is approximately two and a half miles, and 400 feet, to Panther Gap. Hikers will enjoy expansive vistas of the Middle Fork Kaweah drainage from this pass.
From Panther Gap the Alta Trail begins, leading eastward and remaining relatively flat at 8,800 feet. About one mile from Panther Gap the trail forks. Follow the left fork, which climbs toward Tharps Rock. Hikers will reach another junction in the trail shortly past a large meadow. Take the left side of the fork to reach Alta Peak. (The left side of the fork leads to Alta Meadows.)
The last two miles of the trail ascends almost 2,200 feet. The panoramic vistas of 11,204 Alta Peak are worth the hard work to reach the summit. The peak provides some of the best views and high-country scenery within day-hiking distance of the Lodgepole/Wolverton area. On a clear day, it is possible to see across the Great Western Divide to Mt. Whitney. However, the steep grades and high altitudes along this trail make it one of the most strenuous in the western half of Sequoia National Park. Backpacking along this route is permitted with a wilderness permit.
Directions from Big Stump Entrance: Follow Highway 180 northward approximately 1 mile to the Generals Highway. Turn right on to Generals Highway and follow it 27 miles to the turnoff for Wolverton parking area. Drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead.
Directions from Ash Mountain Entrance: Follow the Generals Highway northward 20 miles to the turnoff for Wolverton parking area. Turn right and drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead.
Mid-April through October
(NOTE: Trail may be snow covered during any season of the year, due to high elevation.)