Compared with the extravagantly-named Paradise Valley, Bubbs Creek is the lesser-traveled sibling leaving the Roads End Permit Station in Kings Canyon National Park. However, it is a worthy hike in its own right, not simply as the return trail for the classic Paradise Valley-JMT/PCT-Bubbs Creek loop. From Road's End to the JMT/PCT intersection, the Bubbs Creek Trail covers about 12.5 miles of beautiful hiking through an elevated valley replete with sheer granite walls, mixed forests, a bubbling stream and a choice swimming hole or two. Though modestly named, Bubbs Creek is a delightful place to spend a couple days in Kings Canyon if Paradise Valley is too crowded.
The trail begins with about 2 miles of flat walking before ascending about 1,000 feet of switchbacks to get into the main valley. From there the trail continues to ascend nearly unabated, though at a more moderate pace, to the Lower Vidette Meadow Junction at about 9,600 feet, a total climb of about 4,500 feet from the valley floor at Road's End.
Bubbs Creek offers classic hiking on the upper western slopes of the Sierra Nevada: lush, well-watered and fun. After burning your muscles on the climb, refresh yourself with a dip in the icy mountain waters before settling in to camp. Prepare for light to disappear quickly behind the steep canyon walls as you enjoy dinner and the chatter of the stream.
For those who can't resist those sheer granite walls, Bubbs Creek is also one of the two main access routes to Charlotte Dome, home to what High Sierra guidebook author RJ Secor calls "one of the world's finest rock climbs."