January 12, 2023

The Moro Rock Trail - Yikes! (National Parks Trip #3)

With 2022 in our rear view mirror and 2023 already promising to provide a number of exceptional adventures, I’m up to my neck in travel planning.  So, it’s time to settle down and get our most recent National Parks trips documented and put to bed.  This post represents another installment in the series describing our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

Before I begin today’s post about Day #12 of our journey, I have to admit that I’m truly, truly enjoying documenting our past travels.  I believe that I’m the luckiest of family members.  I get to enjoy and anticipate our trips as I plan them, then I get to enjoy them while we’re actually on them and then I get to enjoy them all over again as I document them.  I get a LOT of mileage out of our travels and that makes my heart happy!

I’m not, by nature, a true adventurer.  Yes, I’m an outdoor enthusiast, but my idea of fun-filled outdoor activities includes the more sedate ones.  I prefer hiking, biking and kayaking over activities like trail-running, rock climbing, mountain biking and white water rafting.  Add in a fear of heights and I’ll admit that sometimes I’m a plain ol’ scaredy cat.  Then along comes our daughter – a curious explorer, outdoor adventurer and bundle of bravery all wrapped up in one petite package.

When Kyra was about three years old, we found ourselves at a family picnic at a State Park.  A number of cousins wanted to climb a stone tower to see the old, empty osprey nest at the top.  The tower itself was high, dark and dank.  The steps were covered with bird droppings and who knows what else because it was too dark to tell.  I’m thinking there’s no way I’m going up in that tower.  Then Kyra says, “I want to go!”  There was no reason for me to bite the bullet.  Alan and Ryan were there to go with Kyra, and I certainly could have waited for them and my cousins to complete their adventure.  Then I started thinking.  My three year old is braver than I am!  Of course, that thought gave me the courage and determination I needed to explore the stone tower – there was no way I was going to let a toddler show me up.  Yes, the nest was absolutely amazing and well worth the angst!

We began Day #12 of our journey with a beautiful blue-sky morning!

That was the case, too, with our hike to the top of Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park.  Both Kyra and Alan were eager to hit the trail, and there was no way I was going to admit that my 18 year old was any braver than I was.  (Best not to lose any leverage you may have when dealing with teenagers.)  So, I’m happy to say that I climbed (and survived) Moro Rock!

One of many magnificent views from the Moro Rock Trail

AllTrails rates the Moro Rock Trail as "moderately challenging" but, honestly, it’s not that difficult as long as you can climb stairs.  If steps present a problem for you, then this trail is definitely not for you.  There are over 350 of them and they can definitely make this hike a difficult one.  Unless you have a fear of heights in which case it’s the overlook that will do you in, not the steps.

Steps.  Lots and lots of steps.

I wasn’t worried about the climb itself.  We’ve done the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park in New York at least twice – and that one’s over 800 steps.  It was the lookout that concerned me.  I’m not going to lie.  While I admit that the views were to die for (and I was hoping I didn’t), and I was okay as long as I was looking out and not down, I couldn’t quite get past the fact that we were on such a narrow piece of rock and it was such a L-O-N-G way to the bottom.  I was hoping that those handrails were a lot sturdier than they looked.

Like I said . . . YIKES!

The Moro Rock "Trail" is basically a climb up a granite dome with lots of help from steps and handrails.  The trail itself is only about a half-mile long; the elevation at the top of Moro Rock is 6,725 feet, but you’re not starting at sea level.  However, that’s much higher off the ground than I’d prefer to be.  The first set of stairs was built of wood in 1917; the second set, made of concrete, replaced the first in 1931.   The concrete stairs made the trail safer, and the color blended in better with the granite.  Now, though, if you fall on the steps you get a concussion, not a splinter.

I don’t deny the fact that the Moro Rock Trail provides an excellent adventure.  There’s a tremendous reward in the form of a nearly 360 degree view that makes the trail worthwhile, even for an acrophobe like me.  It’s never a bad idea to hit this trail early in the day.  It’s popular and can get crowded as the day goes on.  Not only did I make it to the top (yay, me!), but I’d go so far as to say that I’d do it again given the opportunity.  There’s no way I’m going to let a young whippersnapper show me up.

I did it!

We finished out our visit to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with stops at the Tunnel Log and the General Sherman tree.  The Tunnel Log is a sequoia that fell back in December of 1937.  The log is 275’ long with a base diameter of 21’.  The tunnel is 8’ high and 17’ wide.  It’s difficult to imagine a tree so large that you could drive a vehicle through it, but there you have it.

Kyra lending some perspective to the size of the log and its tunnel

The General Sherman is the world’s largest tree by volume.  It stands 275’ tall and is over 36’ in diameter at its base.  It’s believed to be over 2,000 years old.  (Makes you feel rather insignificant, doesn’t it?)  Here’s what I thought was an interesting fact about the trunk of a giant sequoia:  The trunks thicken every year and the trees gain mass.  The trunk of the General Sherman gains enough new wood every year to equal a very large tree of most other species.  That fact impressed me - as did the tree itself.

More perspective - thank you, Kyra!  (Next time, please wear brighter colored clothing.)

In a prior post, I had mentioned that the redwood trees along the California coast were the tallest trees in the world and the giant sequoia trees were the largest by volume.  At one of the Visitor Centers within the Parks, we found the exhibit below which was extremely helpful in putting the size of these trees in perspective.  Left to right, let’s compare the Space Shuttle, a stack of 275 elephants (because that’s something that we all see every day), a giant sequoia, a cruise ship, a coastal redwood, a sugar pine tree and the Statue of Liberty.  I appreciated this comparison because it made it easy to understand just how big these trees really are.

Beyond impressive!

After wrapping up Day #12 of our journey we headed back to our site at Dorst Creek Campground to pack up for the next day’s travel.  We would be on our way to Yosemite National Park – a bucket list item for many, many years.  First though, a quick stop in Fresno for a delightful (and tasty!) experience!



  1. Great photos! Eighty-five hundred miles...350 steps...must be nice to be young and have such endurance. Reading it wore me out, but I enjoyed it.

    1. I enjoyed it, too, Mike. I think. It was tough keeping up with an 18 year old. The low point was when she went out for an evening Ranger program in Yosemite. Alan and I looked at each other and told her to have fun. The old people needed their sleep.

  2. Great photos that helped me go down (or, maybe in this instance, up) memory lane. I haven't been there since I was just a little whippersnapper myself. And, yes, those hand rails look kind of iffy to me. That picture of several hikers leaning on them gave me the willies.

    1. I must confess that I didn't spend a whole lot of time at the lookout, despite the astounding views. Places like that always bring the expression "an accident waiting to happen" to mind. Thank goodness there were no tiny tykes there at the same time we were. I would have been even more of a wreck than I was. So neat that you have memories of being there when you were young - you have so many beautiful public lands in your state!

  3. That comparison of the giant trees to other well-known objects (well, maybe not the stack of elephants, LOL) was very cool! The trees truly are magnificent.

    Good for you for not letting your fear of heights get the best of you. Although I must admit, I'm with you on not enjoying heights. But wait a minute...as I recall, you rode in one of those crazy washing-machine-like barrels to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I was not able to talk myself into doing that!

    1. Wow! You have a good memory, Laurel! The little washing machine-like elevator cars at the Gateway Arch didn't bother me because (1) they were pretty well enclosed, (2) I'm not particularly claustrophobic, so small enclosed spaces don't bother me, (3) as long as I looked out and not directly down from the top of the Arch I was fine, and (4) last, but certainly not least, I figured that my chances of ever riding in a real washing machine were probably slim to none, so I didn't want to pass up the opportunity! I'll go out on a limb here and say I'm guessing that we'll never go skydiving together . . .


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