Hiking to Moro Rock is undoubtably the pinnacle of a visit to Sequoia National Park. In reality, you can enjoy the views of the signature monolith on your way up to Giant Forest. But only hiking to the top of Moro Rock allows you to truly appreciate the magnitude, significance, and beauty of the place.
A Guide to Hiking Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park
Moro Rock is a dome-shaped granite monolith in Sequoia National Park. It’s located at the heart of the park between the Giant Forest and Crescent Meadow. Such convenient location allows the visitors, hiking between the forest and the meadow, to deviate from their route and check out the Moro Rock Trail along the way. The majority of the park’s guests, though, skip all other hiking trails and start their ascent right at the bottom of Moro Rock.
About Moro Rock
According to Atlas Obscura, the famous rock formation was named after the roan-colored mustang of one of the residents of nearby Three Rivers. The animal, whose name was Moro, was often rushing around and under the rock ledger of the monolith. Eventually, people started calling the place Moro’s Rock.
Hiking to the summit of Moro Rock was impossible until the early 20th century. The first stairway was installed only in 1917. The wooden structure, though, didn’t last long. By the late 1920s, it needed serious repairs. In 1931, a 797-foot-long stone Moro Rock stairway replaced the wooden structure, making hiking to the summit safer and more convenient.
How to Get to Moro Rock
The best place to start hiking to the top of Moro Rock is near a parking lot at the base of the monolith. You can reach this place by car. The Moro Rock parking lot is located just 1.5 miles away from the Giant Forest Museum along the Generals Highway. If you plan to hike to the summit of Moro Rock in the morning, be sure to do it before 10:00 a.m. Since the parking area has only 18 spots available, you might have issues finding an open spot later in the day.
You don’t need to worry about the parking situation in summer though. Leave your car at the parking lot near the Giant Forest Museum and use free shuttle to get to Moro Rock. The shuttle operates from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The service, however, is not available in 2020 in response to COVID-19.
Hiking Moro Rock Stairway
The Moro Rock stairway is one of the most popular hiking trails in Sequoia National Park. The hike starts at the base of the monolith. From here you need to climb 350 steep steps to reach the summit with the panoramic views of the park. Moro Rock rises 6,725 feet above sea level, but you climb only the last 300 feet. Although the hike is short, going up the stairs at this elevation can be difficult. On average, plan for about 45 minutes to go up and down Moro Rock.
The staircase is narrow. In several places, it allows only one person to go through. There are a few viewing platforms to catch your breath while making your way up the stairs. But even these short stops let you admire the astounding surrounding and inspire you to climb farther up. Once at the summit, you can feast your eyes on the Great Western Divide and a canyon carved by the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. Hiking to the top of Moro Rock is not allowed when the stairs are covered with snow and ice.
Hiking Moro Rock Trail
The 1.5-mile Moro Rock Trail offers a chance to hike through the woods of Sequoia National Park before climbing up the stairway. The trailhead is located across the street to the right of the Giant Forest Museum. If you feel lost, look for a big wooden sign with More Rock Trail to guide you in the right direction.
Gaining elevation, the path winds through the area with many fallen and dead trees. As the trail starts descending, you’ll find yourself in a lush sequoia grove. When the Moro Rock Trail meets a paved road, continue hiking to the left for another 0.2 miles until you reach the parking area.
What to Pack
Although the entire Moro Rock Trail takes approximately 2-3 hours, you might still want to pack a few essentials.
- Good trail running shoes with non-slip sole come in handy when walking up the Moro Rock stairway.
- Sunscreen. You can get sunburned even in the shade of the giant sequoias.
- Use Kleenex wet wipes to clean your hands and shoes after hiking the Moro Rock Trail.
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