The Needles Trail

Giant Sequoia National Monument, California

Distance2.0mi
Elevation Gain1,746ft
Trailhead Elevation7,771ft
Top8,173ft
Elevation Min/Max7767/8173ft
Elevation Start/End7771/7771ft

The Needles Trail

The Needles Trail is a hiking trail in Tulare County, California. It is within Giant Sequoia National Monument. It is two miles long and begins at 7,771 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,746 feet. Near the trailhead there are parking and a wetland. The trail ends near The Needles (elevation 8,202 feet). There is also a horse hitching rail near the end of the trail. This trail connects with the following: Forest Route 21s05.

The Needles Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

100 Classic Hikes in Southern California (The Mountaineers Books)
Allen Riedel
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"The Needles are a stunning rock formation favored by technical rock climbers. Various routes ascend the series of granite monoliths, and climbers on belay can be spotted on any given day. Hikers and mountain bikers can also enjoy The Needles via a well-graded trail and steep sets of connecting stairs that lead to a lookout tower perched on top of the tallest spire. The lookout itself, still operational, is on the National Historic Lookout Register. It is truly an engineering marvel: seeming to spring straight out of the rock, it appears precariously stationed above the void. Walking around the tower’s catwalk is an experience unto itself. The rock drops away hundreds of feet on all sides, and only the boards beneath your feet shield you from the omnipresent pull of gravity."
Hiking The Sierra Nevada (Falcon Guides)
Barry Parr
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"Climbing a granite pinnacle on airy stairways and catwalks to a fire tower overlooking the vast expanse of the Kern River drainage, this trail serves up the thrill of extreme rock climbing without the learning curve or peril. Leaving from the northeast corner of the parking area (elevation 7, 750 feet), our wide trail contours through conifers, manzanita, and chinquapin along the steep north side of Needles Ridge. The broad canyon of the Kern River gapes beyond the trees. Meeting the ridgetop in a timbered saddle, we zigzag eastward up the next rise. Before reaching this next summit, however, we cut left (north) and again contour around the hill to its eastern side. From this high point, we catch views of the precipitous dome of Needles Lookout, rising from the next and climactic high spot on Needles Ridge."

The Needles Trail Trip Reports

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7/8/2018
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10/9/2010
Wonderful hike, took my husband and 2, 8yo's on this hike. We started around 1:30pm, which kept the sun off of our backs. The temp. was around 70degrees, with a slight wind at our backs, kept the kids entertained with lots of sights and stories. The end of the hike was the jelly in the doughnut.....a beautiful 150+step stairs to this amazing fire lookout.
Well worth the hike
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7/26/2008
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6/5/2006
The road to the trail head was closed and we had to walk an extra 6 miles up hill making the total trip 13 miles up and back. We were very tired but still enjoyed the trip the view is fantastic. Rangers at the number were did not notify us the road was closed. The hike is not moderate but hard or difficult. Take plenty of water, Toilet paper (none at the pit toilet at the parking lot and snacks for the long hike.
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4/18/2002
This is a easily accessed trail from the hiway and well known among the local community. The hike is a nice afternoon hike and the views are well worth it. Seeing the canyons and the mountains to the east are extremely rewarding. Good hiking shoes are required. Parts of the trail cross granite and care should always be taken to give the trail the respect it deserves!
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The Needles Trail Photos

Trail Information

Giant Sequoia National Monument
Nearby City
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Parks
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate
Skill Level
Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sequoia National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Sentinel Peak, Durrwood Creek.
Local Maps

Trail Log