Mill Flat Trail resides within the Kings River on the Sequoia National Forest. It is a low elevation, approximately 2,000 feet, moderate day hiking trail. It takes you through the oak woodland portions of the Forest and ends at Rancheria Site. Rancheria Site is an historical location that sits across from Mill Flat Creek. It appears to be an old homestead or possibly a ranger station at one point. There is nothing left now except an old faucet pipe standing up in the grass. I recommend doing this trail during cool Spring or Fall temperatures. Summer time would not be a pleasant hike and winter could be dangerous due to the trail being on the northern slopes of the mountain.
The trail starts off on private property called Crabtree. There is a large turn out and a road that descends down to the river. You cannot and would not want to drive down this road anyway. Once down near the river, the road quickly ends and the trail tred begins. The trail winds around the forest floor and can be hard to follow. Shortly after winding yourself through trees and brush, you end up in a flat near the river. Old oak trees and sycamores provide shade with the roaring Mill Flat is close by. It would be a perfect spot for fishing and/or dispersed camping (see photo above). Again, keep an eye out for the trail tred and, most importantly, old trail blazes in trees.
The trail begins to leave the river at this point gaining elevation. Poison oak becomes a more common plant along the edges of the trail. As the trail ascends openings in the forest canopy allow for wildflowers to soak up some sun as you progress. Tar Flowers, the yellow ones, are common while some fairy lanterns and Chinese houses are seen. The trail also will start to cross several side drainages.
Eventually the trail will have vista points to take photos of the mountains surrounding the Mill Flat drainage. One of the best vista points is when the trail begins to head south. A 270 degree view of the area lets you take a snap shot of the towering Sierra Nevada mountains.
Now with most of the trail done, you head south for you final stretch to Rancheria Site. The trail really disappears for most of the southern section. Simply following livestock trails from the previous year or up drainages, as seen in the photos below, will keep you on track.
Once back on the trail, you will get a grand view of the foothills and mountains on the forest. You will also get to see peaks on the Sierra National Forest to the north. From here you descend down towards Mill Flat Creek again and to the final destination of Rancheria Site.
We had arrived at the river in approximately 50 minutes. We didn’t stop moving and probably kept a 2.5 mph pace. Mill Flat Creek was flowing too fast to safely cross over to Rancheria Site. After eating lunch and relaxing awhile, we headed back to our vehicles. The trip back was mostly downhill at this point. The trail was easier to see now that we had pressed down all the vegetation on our way up.
It was a great day for a hike and I am glad we did it in the morning hours. I would think Spring would be the perfect time of year to go. The green grasses and leaves on the trees make for an enjoyable and cool walk in the woods. The wildflowers were a plus too.