Summary: From the very beginning of the trail breathtaking views open up of the high Sierra outside of Mineral King and eventually of Mount Whitney and Olancha Peak. When The Needles and its precipitously perched lookout come into view, the scenery is absolutely outstanding.
The trail meanders through a lovely mixed pine forest and the drop-offs and views are non-stop. Follow the trail down and back up to The Needles and climb the plentiful stairs to the top of the lookout.
This one is not for those afraid of heights.
Trailhead: From Porterville, drive east on highway 190 as it passes Camp Nelson and turns into Great Western Divide Highway. From the turnoff for the Quaking Aspen Campground, drive another 0.6 miles to Forest Road 21S05. Turn left and follow the road for three miles to its conclusion, high clearance is not necessary, and park in the large parking area. The trail is obvious and signed. (Lat:36.10965 Lon:-118.48499)
Trail Guides for The Needles:
by Tom Sinestra and Ann Marie Brown (Avalon Travel)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Sequoia National Monumet (559) 784-1500
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted 123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by FF on 11/3/2011
Been hiking this trail for 40+ years. It's beautiful! Unfortunately, the Forest Service lookout burned down in the summer of 2011. Please check with the Forest Service to see if the trail is open before heading out.
Reviewed by HMR on 9/9/2009
What a great find! Hiked this last Saturday, 9/5/09. We were able to find the dirt road (watch for actual Forest Road 21S05 and signs for "Needles" locations). Our Nissan Altima made it OK, but you'd be better off in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. The views are amazing. The elevation makes it difficult to breath at times. Did not take the stairs to the lookout - I'm afraid of heights.....but there were a number of folks who were doing it - even children.
Reviewed by Jason on 6/14/2008
Great trail but I will take my truck next time, the three mile long road was dirt and not the best for a Honda.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, Tulare County Hiking, Tulare County Trails, Tulare County Hikes