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Hiking & Walking: California

Quick Facts

Alta Trail

Beginning Elevation: 7,250 Feet (2260.0 Meters) Wolverton Parking Area
Difficulty: Difficult Strenuous
Difficulty: Difficult Strenuous
Elevation Gain, One-way: 3,950 Feet (1231.3 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,204 Feet (3492.5 Meters) summit Alta Peak
High Point: 11,204 Feet (3492.5 Meters) Alta Peak
Length: 13.8 Miles (23.0 Kilometers) Roundtrip

Outfitters and Guides

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

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.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Mid-April through October (NOTE: Trail may be snow covered during any season of the year, due to high elevation.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Steven Jones (Fresno, CA)
Time of Day: All Day
Length of Time: 12 hours
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Take your time and plan on the using the whole day. Take a GPS if you go this time of year as much of the trail is covered in snow.
Conditions: Difficult this time of year, 2 weeks sooner and the snow would be packed better, two weeks later and the snow would be mostly gone. You can't beat the view this time of year however, be careful as there are dangerous melting snow packs towards the top.
Water Availability: Bring a gallon. This time of year has many clean flowing falls and streams, you can bring less if you refill along the way.
Recommended Clothing: Layered clothing, sunblock, no mosquitoes this time of year.
Suggested Accessories: GPS, Head Lamp, First Aid Kit, Food, Walking Stick

Filed By: Jeff Morrison (Coalinga, CA)
Time of Day: All Day
Length of Time: 9 hrs.
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Toughest part is the top, steep and rocky plus high altitude, needed to take frequent breaks. Best place for lunch is the peak, breathtaking views of alpine lake and western divide. Trail well marked at forks in trail. Able to see High Sierra Region in day hiking distance.
Conditions: Patches of snow at peak in September. Steep and rocky at summit.
Water Availability: Approx 4-5 bottles.
Recommended Clothing: T-Shirt shorts, good hiking shoes.Bring warm clothes, weather can change at high elevation. Early fall best time.
Suggested Accessories: Just good hiking shoes and brought warm clothe in case of weather change.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON General Parking Wolverton Parking Area
ICON Backpacking Alta Trail
ICON Dispersed Camping Alta Trail - wilderness permit required
ICON Hiking & Walking Alta Trail
ICON Bird Identification Alta Trail
ICON Plant Identification Alta Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Alta Trail
ICON Picnicking Wolverton Parking Area
ICON Viewing Scenery Alta Trail

Related Activities
The Lakes Trail - This trail ascends steeply to a chain of glacial lakes. Heather Lake, the first lake on the trail, is four miles from Wolverton Trailhead.

More Information

Visitor Information:

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543


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