Alta Peak via Alta Trail
This difficult out-and-back trail goes by Panther Gap and Mehrten Meadow on its way to the summit of Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park. At 11,276 feet, Alta Peak towers over the dramatic Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, with expansive views of the Tablelands to the north and the Great Western Divide to the east.
The first 2.5 miles climbs through beautiful forest until reaching Panther Gap. Past this point, it is roughly two miles of gradual trail until the cut-off, followed by another two-mile stretch to the summit. The trail here becomes steeper and slightly sandy until the summit block, which involves a simple maneuver on granite to the top. Retrace your steps on the way down and enjoy the views.
The trailhead is located about 1.5 miles off the Generals Highway and 82 miles from Fresno via CA-180. Begin hiking at Alta Peak and Pear Lake Trailhead, making sure not to take the Long Meadow Loop Trail. Be sure to pick up permits just up the road at Lodgepole Visitor center if you are staying overnight at Alta Meadow. There is a bathroom at the trailhead and plenty of parking.
Although possible, be wary of taking children on this hike, unless they are accustomed to both high-mileage days and high-altitude hiking. Additionally, the elevation gain (almost 4,000 feet) is another factor to consider when bringing children.