Special Places

Over the years, Congress has designated areas unique for the special characteristics and the opportunities they offer, such as Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers. In addition, Congress has passed laws protecting historical and archaeological sites. Some special places have been established by Executive Order and Presidential Proclamation, such as the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Other places have no formal designation, but are special places nonetheless!

Giant Sequoia National Monument

Established in April 2000 and encompassing 353,000 acres, the Giant Sequoia National Monument is home to 33 groves of giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) - the world's largest tree.

branch and cones
Learn about the Giant Sequoia National Monument, it's recreation opportunities, science, history, and management.

 

 

Wild and Scenic Rivers and Lakes

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.

Wild and Scenic River logo

 

 

Learn more about rivers and lakes recreational opportunities in the Sequoia National Forest, and of the National Wild and Scenic River System.

 

 

 

 

 

Wilderness

Wilderness is an indispensable part of American history and one that is uniquely an American idea. The Wilderness Act of 1964 formally acknowledged, through congressional legislation, the lasting benefits of these wild places to the human spirit and aimed to protect the balance and harmony of nature.

Howling Wolf
Learn more about the history, the values, and the importance of Wilderness, including trip planning information for Wilderness Areas in
the Sequoia National Forest.

 

Scenic Byways and Highways

Scenic Byways connect the public to destinations and special places. These designated roads traverse some of our country’s most unique landscapes, noteworthy for their scenery and natural and cultural features. They are the gateways to access attractions such as hiking trails, overlooks, historic sites, waterfalls, Wilderness Areas, and Wild and Scenic Rivers.
National Forest Scenic Byway logo

 

Learn more about the Scenic Byway and other scenic highways in the Sequoia National Forest.

Click Here for the Corridor Protection Program (CPP) for State Route 180 on the Hume Lake Ranger District, Fresno County.

 

 

 

 

 

High Country Areas

The high country of the Sequoia National Forest are areas located in higher elevations, typically above 5,000 feet above sea level.  These areas will usually have deep snow in the winter and are much cooler than lower elevation areas, while in the summer months these areas are filled with lush green meadows, vibrant wildflowers and provide a cool welcoming escape from the valley heat.

Americas great outdoor logo

 

 

Learn more about the High Country Areas in the Sequoia National Forest.

Highlighted Areas

Jennie Lakes Wilderness

The 10,500-acre Jennie Lakes Wilderness is a lovely mixture of lakes, meadows, forests, and streams. Mostly above 7,000 feet in elevation, this wilderness contains scenic variations of alpine and sub-alpine forest of White & Red Fir, Lodgepole Pine, Western White Pine, Jeffrey & Ponderosa Pine, with an abundance of wildflowers in the Spring and Summer. The summit of Mitchell Peak is the highest point at 10,365 feet. Four trailheads access 26 miles of trails within the wilderness. Several of these trails also connect to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park's enormous backcountry.

For current Jennie Lakes trail conditions, click here.

There are four trailheads into Jennie Lakes Wilderness:


Big Meadow Campground

This campground, at an elevation of 7,500 feet, is located near vast meadows and high granite mountains. There are 30 single units and 8 double units.

Natural Features: An open meadow that is surrounded by a variety of pines, including lodgepole, Jeffery and red fir. A creek runs through the meadow. A trailhead nearby leads into the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. Buck Rock Lookout, perched at an elevation of 8,500 feet, is a short drive away. Hume Lake is approximately 15 miles from the campground.

Recreation: Hiking into the Jennie Lakes Wilderness and fly fishing in Big Meadows Creek are popular options. Horseback riders have access to the nearby Horse Corral Pack Station. Numerous trailheads provide access to popular wilderness areas including Jennie Lakes, Monarch and National Park wilderness destinations. Guests looking for water activities can visit Hume Lake, only 15 miles away.

Features: Every unit in the campground are provided with a vault toilet and information board. Each Campsite will have a table, and metal fire ring and a food storage box. A camp host will be available in site # 7 (in Unit 1) to help you find your site and address any other concerns you may have.


Belknap Grove

Handout: Belknap Complex (PDF - 224k)
               Belknap Campground (PDF - 451k)

Belknap GroveBelknap is a complex formed from the large sprawling McIntyre Grove, Wheel Meadow Grove and the smaller, compact Carr Wilson, or Bear Creek Grove. Beautiful trails through old-growth sequoias meander along Bear Creek and the Tule River. This grove is fairly easy to get to by driving paved roads in your car. You can visit this grove year round, but there may be snow and ice on the roads in winter so bring your tire chains. The grove is about 4,666 acres. There are several trails through this grove, including Forest Trail 31E30 and 31E31. Forest Trail 31E30 goes through the heart of the grove along the river and can be started at Belknap or Quaking Aspen campgrounds. You can stop and fish the Tule River along this trail.

Nearby Campgrounds: Belknap (GPS NAD 83: 36.14167, -118.59972), Coy Flat (GPS NAD 83: 36.12917, -118.61806), Quaking Aspen (GPS NAD 83: 36.12083, -118.54722)

Season: April through November
Distance: 1.5 miles to the junction
Elevation: Trail head - 5,000 feet
Bear Ridge Junction - 6,000 feet
Gain - 1,000 feet
Difficulty (hiking): Up, Difficult - 2 hours
Down, Moderate - 3/4 hour
Facilities: Campground, restrooms, water


Trail Description: The Belknap trail (31E23) trail starts in the McIntyre summer home tract from Belknap Campground. The trailhead is alongside the remains of an abandoned fence. It goes up several switchbacks at slopes in excess of 30% and passes one vista point with a view of Camp Nelson to the west.

After slightly less than a mile the trail and the terrain levels off. You are now in the lower half of the Belknap Camp Grove of sequoias. There are several recent (1983) giant windfalls here and the gentle slopes of the area make it a fine picnic spot. Two of the giants are almost at right angles to one another and a spring is located within their embrace, perhaps 150 feet from the corner intersection. Out of the bark of these fallen goliaths, which make wonderful scenic rest stops, sprout many young firs, pines and even sequoias.

Should you loose the trail, proceed up-slope to the top of the ridge (about 1/2 mile, but it will seem like 5 or 10) where you will meet the fairly well maintained COY FLAT - BEAR RIDGE TRAIL (31E31).

If you are still on the trail you will come to a "Y" where you can take the left trail on up to the upper half of the Sequoia grove, where you will pass several really large trees. The right branch will take you to Coy Flat.


Big Meadow Trailhead

The Big Meadows trailhead provides numerous opportunities to explore the beautiful Jennie Lakes Wilderness. The trailhead has parking available along with one vault toilet. The info boards by the restroom give detailed information on the Jennie Lakes trail system.


Boyden Cavern

Boyden Cavern is located in Kings Canyon, Giant Sequoia National Monument, and lies beneath the massive 2,000 foot high marble walls of the famous Kings Gates. The cavern features stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, pendants and shields, and even a cave bear (formation). Visitors are delighted to find that the magnificent Giant Sequoias are complimented by the natural beauty of the underground cavern.  This popular 50-minute tour is suitable for all age groups, from kids to senior citizens.  

Although Boyden is located in the Sequoia National Forest, visitors must pass through Kings Canyon National Park to access the cave. The Park entrance is located near Grant Grove on Hwy 180 and Lodgepole on Hwy 198.

 


Trail Of 100 Giants

Trail of 100 Giants offers an easy, accessible walk through the Long Meadow Grove, one of the premier groves of giant sequoias in our area. Along the trail, you'll see impressively large giant sequoia trees, estimated up to 1,500 years old. A 1.3 mile paved trail has several loop options with interpretive signs for some of the highlights. Located on the Western Divide Highway (M 107), facilities include a paved parking area, restrooms, picnic area and Redwood Meadow Campground nearby. A $10.00 per vehicle fee is charged to help maintain and improve these facilities. The roads leading to the Trail are typically closed by snow during the winter months. (November thru April)

On April 15, 2000, President William J. Clinton proclaimed the establishment of the Giant Sequoia National Monument and made his announcement beneath one of the giant trees at the Trail of 100 Giants.  The grove contains approximately 125 giant sequoias greater than 10 feet in diameter and more than 700 giant sequoias less than 10 feet in diameter. The largest tree in the grove has a diameter of 20 feet and is 220 feet in height. The grove defined by the outermost giant sequoia trees covers 341 acres. It is estimated that the ages of larger giant sequoia trees in the grove are up to 1,500 years old.

A notable site along the Trail is where two giant sequoias fell on Friday September 30, 2011. The two trees had grown together at the base, appearing as one for approximately the first 30 feet. Then, during the winter 2018-2019 another large tree fell across these trees, damaging the newly constructed boardwalk. Forest tree specialists visited the site after both occurred and found no evidence of insects or disease contributing to the fall of the giant sequoias. Streams run alongside where the giant sequoias once stood, with the wet winters of 2010/11, and again in 2018/19 the ground was likely saturated and simply gave way to the weight of the trees. 

This trail is ONLY accessible by road during the summer months, weather depending, due to annual closures by Tulare County. The trail is located on Western Divide Highway (107) across the road from Redwood Meadow Campground and Trail of 100 Giants parking area.  The trail is about an hours drive (45 miles) northwest of Kernville, a 90 minute drive (41 miles) southeast of Springville, and a 30-minute drive (15 miles) northeast of California Hot Springs.

 


Lake Isabella Visitor Center

The Lake Isabella this visitor center is now located in the town of Lake Isabella at 4875 Ponderosa Drive and open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

It offers visitor information, interpretive displays, fire permits, Kern river permits, woodcutting permits, Southern Sierra passes, and information about the many recreational opportunities in the Kern River Valley.

For more information, call 760-379-5646.


Golden Trout Wilderness

The Golden Trout Wilderness is located in both the Sequoia and Inyo national forests and encompasses 475 square miles of pristine lakes, jagged peaks, and lush green meadows. The elevation of the Sequoia portion ranges from 4,800 feet to 12,432 feet. Vegetation includes grey and pinyon pine woodlands at lower elevations; Jeffrey pine at mid-elevations; and red fir, lodgepole, and foxtail pine at higher elevations. Approximately 150 miles of trails are located on the Sequoia National Forest portion. Visitor permits (required only for overnight stays in the Golden Trout Wilderness) are available free from forest offices near wilderness entry points. The following trails into the Golden Trout Wilderness are inaccessible in winter months due to seasonal road closures: Shake Camp, Clicks Creek, Lewis Camp, Summit, Forks of the Kern, Jerkey Meadow.

Click here to view the Golden Trout Wilderness Recreation Opportunity Guide PDF


Freeman Creek Grove

Handouts: Freeman Creek Grove - President George H.W. Bush Tree (PDF - 228k)

Bush Tree Loop TrailFreeman Creek Grove (4,192 acres), also known as Lloyd Meadow Grove, is the largest unlogged grove outside of a National Park. This grove is the easternmost grove of giant sequoias and is considered to be among the most recently established. The sequoias are mainly south of Freeman Creek with approximately 800 large trees (10 feet in diameter or more). There are several large sequoias to see in this grove. Foremost among these is the President George H.W. Bush Tree. President Bush delivered his presidential proclamation in 1992, setting aside giant sequoia groves on National Forest System lands for protection, preservation and restoration while standing beside a large giant sequoia at the bottom of the grove. You can visit the President George H.W. Bush Tree by taking Forest Road 20S78 east to the trailhead.

 

 

This is the eastern-most grove of Sequoias. There are a couple of trees with 20-foot diameters, more than 100 trees with 15-foot diameters, and over 800 with 10-foot diameters. Note that the trees are almost all very young - perhaps less than 1,000 years old - and there are no fallen giants. Also there are many immature trees around -they are the ones with the feathery, pointy tops which look like inverted icicles. These are the signs of young giant sequoias - unlike the groves in the north.

The Freeman Creek Trail parallels the creek for a while and then veers to the north to cross a ridge where it commences to switch back down a ravine which is forested with sugar pine and black oaks. When the trail levels out you are again creek-side in the grove and there are several campsites about. Proceeding further down the trail reveals even more campsites.

Unless you have had the time and foresight to position a shuttle on the paved, yellow lined road at Lloyd Meadows (a 35 mile, one way, return trip by road), you should retrace from here. Beyond the campsites the trail is almost level on in to Pyles Camp at Lloyd Meadows.

Mountain bikes are still allowed on all the designated trails in the monument so while this is a short trail (around four miles one direction) it is worth it to go riding amongst these truly unique giants.

How to Get There: It is fairly easy to get to by car throughout the summer by dirt or paved road. You can reach Freeman Creek Grove only by round about routes. To reach the grove by paved road, you must travel from the south end. From the San Joaquin Valley Highway 99 take County Route SM56 east about 20 miles to California Hot Springs. At California Hot Springs, turn north on to SM50 (Parker Pass Road) continuing about 7.5 miles to Johnsondale. From the Kern Valley, take County Route SM99 (Mountain 99) northwest about 20 miles to Johnsondale. At Johnsondale is the junction with Forest Road 22S82 (Lloyd Meadow Road). Take FR22S82 right about 16 miles to the eastern end of Freeman Creek Grove. You'll have passed signs for Pyles Camp about 1 mile before the grove.

Another route from the San Joaquin Valley Highway 99 is on State Highway 190. Take Highway 190 east about 15 miles until the junction with Western Divide Highway (County Route SM107). Quaking Aspen Campground (GPS NAD 83: 36.12083, -118.54722), and the trailhead for FT 33E20 are also at this junction.


Monarch Wilderness

The Monarch Wilderness, shared with Sierra National Forest, is split into two areas by the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. Beautiful and dramatic, this wilderness rises from 2,000 feet in elevation at the South Fork of the Kings River to over 11,000 feet. The vegetation ranges from chaparral to sub-alpine, with Giant Sequoia groves dominating the southern sections of the area. Numerous mountain meadows, lakes, creeks, and spectacular geological formations add to the beauty. Three trailheads access over 30 miles of trails within the Monarch. In the northern section of the wilderness, several of these trails also lead you into Kings Canyon National Park's spectacular backcountry.

There are three trailheads into the Monarch Wilderness:

Wilderness Blogs you may want to visit!

Monarchhttps://monarchwilderness.wordpress.com/

JLW https://jennielakeswilderness.wordpress.com/

 


Clicks Creek Trail

32E11 The Clicks Creek trail is 6.9 miles long. It begins at 31E14 and ends at 32E02. The trail is open for the following uses: Horseback Riding. Leaves from trailhead on road 21S50, approx. 7 miles from Quaking Aspen. Trail travels primarily east and west following and crossing Clicks Creek several times. It offers large meadows, heavily forested areas, and open forest land. Parts of this trail are steep. Fishing is available in the Little Kern River.




https://www.fs.usda.gov/attmain/sequoia/specialplaces