Severe winter damages key bridges in Sequoia and Kings Canyon Wilderness

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2023

Contact: Rebecca Paterson, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (559) 769 390
Reference Number: 8550-2319

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Calif. May 25, 2023 – Following a winter that delivered 279% of the average annual Sierra Nevada snowpack, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are in the early stages of assessing damage to infrastructure in wilderness areas. 

Thus far, the parks have identified significant damage to two crucial wilderness trail bridges. These are the Woods Creek Bridge and the San Joaquin Bridge, both located in the Kings Canyon Wilderness. Both bridges are critical for John Muir Trail and/or Pacific Crest Trail backpackers, and the Woods Creek Bridge is also critical for the Rae Lakes Loop. Neither bridge is usable at this time and timeframes for repair have yet to be established. It is not possible to safely ford the river at either of these locations. 

As conditions allow the park to assess more trails, more damaged trail structures are likely to be discovered. Wilderness travelers should be prepared for the possibility that streams and rivers may be extremely hazardous to cross due to high water or damaged infrastructure, and this may be true late into the season. In addition to water hazards, backpackers and stock users should expect snow and ice in the high country, and plan backup routes if intended routes are not safely passable. 

“This year, even streams we didn’t think twice about crossing in past years have become raging rivers capable of knocking someone off their feet,” said Ned Kelleher, Chief Ranger of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “People in the wilderness need to be prepared to change their plans or turn around if they’re presented with a hazardous crossing. It’s not worth the risk.” 

The parks will be updating their website with more information about trail conditions in the wilderness as it becomes available. For the most current information, visit this page

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