Large, “bald” mountaintops protruding from dense forests are a fairly common site in the western half of Sequoia National Park and the adjacent national forests. Here and there, granite outcrops known as exfoliation domes poke through the otherwise uniform dark green sea of conifers. Little Baldy, which is one of these domes, offers a good example of this particular geological feature. From the top, hikers can enjoy spacious views spanning the Monarch Divide north of Kings Canyon to the Great Western Divide.
The trailhead lies on the east side of General’s Highway atop Little Baldy Saddle. The trail dips immediately into dense forest and commences a moderate climb, heading northeast. The trail hits a trio of switchbacks at 0.5-0.8 mile, before turning to the south to approach the summit. Most of the gain in the hike occurs up to this point.
Once you start heading south, the trail flattens out and passes through a somewhat open patch of forest that burned some time within the last two decades. Some of the trees are standing, but the area is littered with fallen tree trunks. There’s a chance there may be a few downed trees here and there, but they aren’t hard to work around.
At 1.3 miles, you’ll cross over a small bump before passing through a sunny, tree-less section. From here, the trail climbs the south ridge of the larger bump that comprises the Little Baldy Summit. A short scramble brings you to the top, where you’ll gain an impressive vantage of numerous Sequoia National Park landmarks.
Looking west and east, you’ll notice the twin peaks of Mt. Silliman and Alta Peak towering over their respective lakes basins, while the even more impressive peaks of the Great Western Divide loom further back in the distance. Also standing out from the ocean of conifers to the west are the impressive granite formations of Castle Rocks on the south side of the Middle Fork Kaweah River canyon. Swing around to the north, and you’ll see Big Baldy several linear miles to the north. If the air is clear, you should be able to pick out some of the peaks from the Monarch Divide.
The trail is generally in good shape. A few downed trees may block the path in a sunny burn zone. There is a bit of light off-trail travel to get to the summit.
The closest campground would be Dorst Creek Campground, although Lodgepole Campground is just as good of an option.
From Visalia, head east on CA-198 for 62.4 miles through Three Rivers, the Ash Mountain Entrance, up the steep and winding Generals Highway, and past Lodgepole to the roadside parking area adjacent to the Little Baldy Saddle Trailhead.
With recent wildfire damage and ongoing waves of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, National Forest, National Park, and other public land closures, restrictions, or social distancing guidelines may be in-effect.
If infection rates are on the rise, please do your best to remain local for your hikes. If you do travel, please be mindful of small gateway communities and avoid as much interaction as you can. Also remember to be extra prepared with supplies so you don't have to stop somewhere outside your local community for gas, food, or anything else.
Please be sure to contact the local land management agency BEFORE you head out, as these conditions are likely to change without enough notice for us to fully stay on top of them. Thanks, and stay safe!
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