Exploring the easternmost portion of Kings Canyon proper, the Kanawyer Loop parallels a stretch of the Kings River between Road’s End and the Bubbs Creek and Woods Creek trail junctions. Named after Peter Kanawyer, who founded a small mining outpost bearing his name in the early 20th century, the trail gives would-be hikers a taste of Kings Canyon National Park beyond the road.
The 5-mile loop follows the bottom of the U-shaped, glacially-carved canyon below the imposing granite walls of the Grand Sentinel, The Sphinx, Glacier Monument, and Buck Peak as they tower more than 3,000 feet overhead. This far end of King's Canyon poses some its most dramatic scenery. The Kanaywer Loop serves as the beginning and ending sections to the popular 42-mile Rae Lakes Loop, but on it’s own it makes for a great half-day hike or full day excursion up to Mist Falls.
Kanawyer Loop is equally enjoyable taken in either direction. If you are heading counter-clockwise, head west from the Road’s End parking lot near Muir Rock and cross a footbridge over to the south side of the river. Follow the trail east along the river to the junction with the Bubbs Creek Trail. Head left (north) at the junction, continuing a short way to the second footbridge, a Bailey bridge. The Bailey bridge, where Bubbs Creek flows into the Kings River, is a nice setting for a snack. Upon crossing the bridge, head left along the north bank of the Kings River to return to Road’s End. If you are adding Mist Falls to the itinerary, head right and continue up the Kings River.
With its flat terrain, the Kanawyer Loop is a good option for families looking to expose their kids to slightly longer hikes. The Road’s End area is accessible when Highway 180 is open into Kings Canyon, typically between April and November. Check here for current updates.