November 18, 2015 by Deborah W. Trotter
Two years ago we first climbed to the top of Little Baldy, a granite dome over 8,000 feet high with a 360 degree view. We thought it was a delightful hike as we crunched our way through snow, melted and re-frozen overnight, on the beautifully-engineered trail. At that time we promised ourselves we’d come back and do it again.
Two weeks ago, we did. This time there was no snow, so we loved the trail even more. It’s a gradual but steady ascent on a few long switchbacks, an elevation gain of under 700 feet in 1.8 miles. You walk through tall trees until you get to the top of the ridge. Up there you are aware that the tall trees are fewer and less healthy, many having fallen years before. Their old trunks, both vertical and horizontal, will soon be overtaken by a quickly maturing forest of young evergreens, lovely to behold.
Here the trail is almost level for a stretch, just before you catch your first glimpse of the rugged mountains to the east and make the final push to the top of Little Baldy where you feel like you’ve reached the top of the world.
Unlike two years ago when we shared the view with a few other hikers, this time there is no one else on top of the dome. It is an amazing feeling to be alone in a spot like that with solid rock beneath your feet, nothing above you but thin air and blue sky, and infinite horizons all around.
The only downside is the view to the west which includes an omnipresent layer of dirty air hovering over the Central Valley.
But turn your back on that and look east and you are rewarded with all of this:
In our two visits to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks we have not hiked very many trails. But the climb up to the top of the world on Little Baldy will stay a favorite, and I’m sure we will return again.