Lion Rock is one of the gems of the Sequoia National Park. It is sitting on the Great Western Divide of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, between Triple Divide Peak (North-East) and Mt. Stewart (South-West). Its pyramid separates Lone Pine Creek and Nine Lake Basin.
This rugged peak offers a number of exciting climbing opportunities with Class 3-4 (YDS) routes from all directions. Popular routes to the summit are:
West ridge - Class 3
South-Southwest Slope - Class 3
South Ridge - Class 4
East Chute - Class 4
Northeast Chute - Class 3
Most common approach to Lion Rock begins in Lodgepole. From the Lodgepole Visitor Center, drive 4 miles to the beginning of the High Sierra Trail (HST) in Crescent Meadow. The HST is a very popular summer backpacking destination, so the Crescent Meadow parking lot can get very crowded. Come early to avoid car-camping madness!
Take the HST to the Bearpaw Meadow campground (11.4 miles from Crescent Meadow). If you are planning to reach Bearpaw Meadow in one day, start early and pace yourself. The last section of the trail (from Buck Creek) is the most strenuous! You can find more details about the HST at the NPS site
In order to approach the mountain from the West and South, take the trail to Tamarack Lake on through Lone Pine Meadow. There are a couple of trails that lead to Tamarack Lake from the HST. The first trailhead is located on the HST a few hundred feet past the Bearpaw Meadow backpacking campground. This trail will take you along the slopes to the North of Bearpaw Meadow for 2.2 miles until it reaches Lone Pine Meadow and intersects with the Elizabeth Pass trail (left-hand side of Lone Pine Creek). An alternate approach to Lone Pine Meadow begins on the HST a couple of miles past Bearpaw Meadows High Sierra Camp. It will take you up the switchbacks until it reaches Lone Peak Meadow on the East (right-hand) side of Lone Pine Creek. This trail is not recommended early in the season due to the tough crossing of Lone Pine Creek.
From Lone Pine Meadow, continue for 2.2 miles to Tamarack Lake. The trail will stay on the right side of Lone Pine Creek all the way.
In order to approach mountain from the East and North, one can continue on the HST over Kaweah Gap into Nine Lake Basin.
Check the Lodgepole Logistical Center page for details about entering and staying in the Sequoia National Park.
Overnight wilderness permits are required for most of the trails in the park. Many trails (including the HST) have daily quotas. Depending on the time of the year, you can either reserve your wilderness permits in advance, or get them as you arrive to Lodgepole. Overnight quotas for the HST are likely to be filled between June and September so plan your trip in advance! At this point, the HST daily quota is 30 people.
1. To reserve wilderness permits, you need to follow this instruction on NPS site. It costs $15 per backpacking party.
2. If you want to take your chance and obtain FREE wilderness permits on the spot, you can do so at Lodgepole Ranger Station.
When To Climb
The best time to approach and climb Lion Rock and other Great Western Divide peaks is between late May and October. The early season may present a number of challenges including tough river crossings and snow on trails and all summit routes. River crossings in the early season may significantly delay your approach, so plan ahead and consult with Lodgepole Ranger Station before your trip!
Wilderness camping is allowed almost anywhere in Sequoia National Park. However, it makes sense to stay in established campgrounds due to the black bear problem in the area. If you approach the mountain from Lodgepole via the HST, it is recommended to stay in one of the following places: Mehrten Creek (5.5 miles from Crescent Meadow), Nine Mile Creek (9 miles from Crescent Meadow), Buck Creek (10 miles from Crescent Meadow), the backpacking campground at Bearpaw Meadow (11 miles from Crescent Meadow) and finally the managed 'tent-hotel' at Bearpaw Meadows High Sierra Camp (11.4 miles from Crescent Meadow). Most of these sites are well marked on the HST so it is hard to miss them. The NPS maintains bear-boxes in each one of the listed sites so you don't need to carry your bear canisters. If you choose to camp elsewhere, bear canisters are mandatory.
The weather forecast in Sequoia National Park can be found at:
(Courtesy of Bob Burd)
Named by Mansell Brooks in 1883
"'Looking down upon the meadow from the east was a noble peak, whose head and projecting arete cliffs had, in the descending sun, all the repose of the front of a couchant lion. It was named the Lion Rock. The Kaweah comes from the north of this peak, and its source was found in one small and one larger lake. ... These were named the Kaweah Lakes.' (William R. Dudley in SCB 2, no. 3, Jan. 1898: 186.) The naming took place in July 1896. Dudley's name for the lakes did not get onto the maps. The larger lake is 'Lion Lake;' the smaller is unnamed. Both the 'Lion' names are on the first edition of the Tehipite 30' map, 1905."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
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