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Fishing: California > Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park

Quick Facts

Tar Gap Trail

Beginning Elevation: 7,500 Feet (2337.9 Meters) Cold Springs Campground
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain, One-way: 1,150 Feet (358.5 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 8,450 Feet (2634.0 Meters) Atwell-Hockett Trail
Length, One-way: 12 Miles (20.0 Kilometers) Hockett Meadow

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The Tar Gap Trail begins at the Cold Spring Campground and leads westward then southward around Tar Gap. The trail starts at an elevation of 7,500 feet ascending immediately. Within the first half mile the trail crosses a small drainage and shortly afterward crosses Mineral Creek. One mile from the trailhead it reaches 8,200 feet.

During the next four miles the trail remains relatively level. Close to mile two the path crosses another small drainage and continues to meander around the northwestern flanks of Mt. Hengst. Before the third mile is another stream crossing and the trail turns sharply northward. In one half mile the trail turns sharply southward. Deer Creek, and the first campsite is within one and a a half miles of the fourth stream crossing.

Approximately one mile beyond Deer Creek the trail begins to ascend. In approximately one and three quarter miles Tar Gap Trail ascends 450 feet and crosses Clover Creek. One mile from this stream crossing the trail meets the Atwell-Hockett Trail north of Hockett Meadows.

Directions from Three Rivers: Travel north on Highway 198 2.5 miles to Mineral King Road. Turn right on Mineral King Road (not recommended for RVs and Trailers) and drive approximately 23 miles to Cold Spring Campground. The Tar Gap Trailhead is in the campground.

Seasonal Information:
Normal Services Available: Mid-June through October (NOTE: Opening date varies each year depending on conditions.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Michael Schoenhut (Riverside, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This was our first time backpacking. Tar Gap trail was probably a bit ambitious. We did a round trip from Cold Springs to Hockett Meadow, 12 miles each way. 7.5 hours on the way up, 6 hours back. Stayed 2 nights at Hockett Meadow. First mile up from Cold Creek was a really hard climb, and I am reasonably fit. It will definitely get you breathing hard. Trail is clear, with just a few small patches of snow near the trail, but none on it. Lots of patches of thorny bushes within a few miles of Hockett Meadow. Trail description here says the trail is mostly level after the first mile, which is basically true, but you will encounter a lot of elevation changes on the way, some of them kind of demanding. It was a great trip, and certainly worth it, but one of the hardest things I've done. Scenery is amazing with many redwoods and incredible views. Hockett Meadow is an awesome destination with some great campsites available right next to Whitman Creek. There is a ranger station on site. Pit toilets are about 400 yards away from campsites, so you don't need to pack out your used toilet paper if you use them. No bears in the area, and bear canisters are not needed as there are food lockers on site. We saw a handful of deer and a couple of marmots, but that's it. Lots of firewood available in the area and campsites have existing fire rings. Some of the stock crew campsites had a lot of leftover firewood from last year.
Conditions: No snow on trail. Lots of sun and shade. Areas with a lot of rocks. Only one tree down on the trail that we had to go around. Lots of bugs, especially mosquitoes this time of year. Just a couple of short stretches of muddy conditions, but easy enough to get around.
Water Availability: Plenty of water available, with a lot of small creeks to cross every few miles. I took a 3 liter Camelbak and ran out of water once each way. Definitely bring a water filtration system of some kind.
Recommended Clothing: Wear lightweight pants to avoid thorn bushes. Warm weather clothing was not necessary during our hike, even on the way back at 6 AM with temps in the 30's to 40's, because you will warm up very quickly. Long sleeves might be good, though. Wear sunblock and mosquito repellent (cannot stress that enough)
Suggested Accessories: Definitely bring a hiking stick. Basic waterproof hiking boots should do well. A water filter of some kind is an absolute must.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Trailhead Parking Cold Springs Campground
ICON Backpacking Tar Gap Trail
ICON Dispersed Camping Tar Gap Trail
ICON Cold Water Fishing Tar Gap Trail - East Fork Kaweah River
ICON Hiking & Walking Tar Gap Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Tar Gap Trail
ICON Bird Identification Tar Gap Trail
ICON Plant Identification Tar Gap Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Tar Gap Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Tar Gap Trail

Related Activities
Atwell-Hockett Trail - This is an easy to moderate, ten-mile climb through giant sequoia groves and meadows.

Cold Springs Campground - This campground provides hiking, fishing, exploring and photography opportunities. Reservations are not accepted.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, 47050 Generals Highway , Three Rivers, CA, 93271-9651, Phone: 559-565-3341, Fax: 559-565-3730, TTY: 559-565-3196


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