If there’s one hike to do in Sequoia National Park, this popular Moro Rock trail delivers some of the best views with minimal effort. Not zero effort – it’s a very steep climb – but it’s also a very short trail. The trail is located in the center of the park, at the head of Moro Creek between the Giant Forest and Crescent Meadow. It’s also fairly close to our accommodation at Fish Camp on our south-west USA road trip. The rock gets its name from a blue roan mustang – a colour called moro by the Mexicans – which was owned by Mr Swanson from the nearby Three Rivers in the 1860s.
Mr. Swanson, so it’s told, had a little mustang named Moro, which in the Western parlance of the time meant a bluish-colored horse. His little Moro was known to scramble up, around and under the rock ledges of the great dome, and so it became known as Moro’s Rock – Moro Rock today.Atlas Obscura – Moro Rock
The original trail, perhaps better described as a stairway, was constructed in 1917 from timber. This deteriorated in the 1920s, and was replaced in 1931 by the current Moro Rock Stairway. Designed to blend with the natural surface, the new stairway with its 400 steps was partly cut into the rock and partly used natural ledges.
It doesn’t take long for the trail to ascend above the tree-line, offering some grandiose views.
The rock gets narrower towards the top, before the trail threads through a narrow slot between large boulders.
The granite peak of Moro Rock (6,725 feet or 2,050m above sea level) is long and narrow, with a sheer drop beyond the guardrails and interpretive signs pointing out the key landmarks.
The view is spectacular, covering the San Joaquin Valley to the west and the vast wilderness of Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park to the east.
The Great Western Divide (which is to the east of Moro Rock) includes the many jagged peaks of the high Sierras: Horn Peak, Triple Divide Peak, Lion Rock, Kaweah Queen, Florence Peak, and many others.
To the south-west is Hospital Rock, and in the far distance the hazy peaks of the the Caliente Range and Copernicus Peak, the highest point in Santa Clara County.
It’s a quick descent back down: the trail is only 0.5 miles (0.8km) out and back, although you can extend it by combining it with the nearby Hanging Rock. It would be a great spot for sunrise (best for avoiding the crowds) or sunset…
Getting to Moro Rock
The Moro Rock carpark is 1.7 miles (2.5km) from Generals Highway along Crescent Meadows Road – the junction is near the Giant Forest Museum. Note that in summer, free shuttles run from the Giant Forest Museum to the Moro Rock parking area and on weekends the road is closed to private vehicles, so the shuttles is the only way to reach the trail. In winter the Crescent Meadow Road is closed due to snow (and the stairway is closed as the steps get icy and slippery).