Converse Basin Grove
Handouts: Converse Basin (PDF - 214k)
Converse Basin Grove (GPS NAD 83: 36.799, -118.968) gives us a glimpse of a time when Manifest Destiny was the slogan of the day. The axe was king, and engineering feats in the mountains included lumber mills, water flumes, steam locomotives, and unrivalled will power. This grove is the largest contiguous grove in the world and contains Boole Tree, the largest sequoia on National Forest System land. This grove offers unique opportunities to study how rapidly the young sequoias grow. Unlike most of the planet’s other species, sequoias reproduce prolifically and continue to grow rapidly well into old age. Converse Basin also offers the importance of studying historic weather patterns created from the timelines on tree rings located on the stumps.
Nearby Campgrounds: Princess Campground (GPS NAD 83: 36.80278, -118.93694)
In the late 1800s, the Converse Basin Grove was under private ownership, and was harvested extensively during our country’s historic logging period. Several groups of sequoias escaped the 1880s logging. Much of the grove was cut down, denuded and the land was later sold to the U.S. Forest Service. Today, the grove has recovered and it is breathtaking!
Recreation Opportunities: There are quite of few areas to get out and explore! Hume Lake, Drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, or camp nearby in Princess Campground. There are also a few dispersed camping areas which people are welcome to use, please check with the Hume Lake Ranger District office.
Three prominent developed recreation sites lie within Converse Basin Grove; the Boole Tree Trail, Chicago Stump Trail, and Stump Meadow. For the history buffs, buy a copy of the book, They Felled the Redwoods which has extensive historical information.
Boole Tree Trail is a moderate 2.5 mile loop to the Boole Tree. There are restroom facilities at the trailhead, but no drinkable water. Boole, the largest giant sequoia on National Forest System Land, is the 8th largest of all known sequoias. This trail offers spectacular views of the Kings River gorge and spectacular high Sierra Nevada mountain vistas. As you travel along the trail, you’ll come across remains of sequoias left where they fell in the historic logging days.
Chicago Stump Trail is an easy .5 mile loop to the stump. The trail meanders along a meadow ringed by young sequoias. Chicago Stump was originally known as the General Noble tree. In 1897, it was cut down in pieces, the pieces were numbered shipped, and reassembled at the Chicago World’s Fair. People were astounded by the giant’s size and believed the reassembled giant was made of several trees and call it the “California Hoax”.
For the experienced hiker: A daring hike down to the Cabin Creek Grove will dwarf you while hiking among the old monarch sequoias. This small pocket of sequoias was untouched during the historic logging period in Converse Basin Grove. It is very steep and difficult to get to.
Stump Meadow: On the drive to the Boole Tree you will pass a meadow filled with sequoia stumps that demonstrate both the size of the trees, and the historic logging that took place. Today, thousands of the young spiral topped sequoia which are about 100 years old, surround the meadow. Scientists speculate on why this meadow area has not regenerated like the rest of the grove. These stumps provide a wealth of knowledge to scientists studying weather patterns by studying the tree rings. The science of dendrochronology uses tree rings to reconstruct past events, such as weather patterns, fires, droughts or other significant events which impact a tree’s life. The oldest known sequoia stump in Converse Basin Grove is just over 3,200 years old.
At a Glance
|Closest Towns:||How to Get There: You can reach Converse Basin Grove from State Highway 180 or General's Highway (State Highway 198). Take Highway 180 about 5 miles north of Grant Grove village to the Converse Turnoff (Forest Road 13S55). There is a sign at this point saying Converse Basin Grove, Stump Meadow and Boole Tree Trail. Take Forest Road 13S55 about 0.5 mile into Converse Basin Grove. If you want to go to Stump Meadow, continue on Forest Road 13S55 past an intersection until you arrive at the meadow. You can continue on this route to Boole Tree Trail, which is at the end of Forest Road 13S55.|
|Water:||No potable water available|
|Restroom:||No toilet facilities available|
|Information Center:||Location: It is fairly easy to get to by car, but the main access is a dirt road. It is best to visit in the summer when the road is dry or in the winter by cross-country skis, or snowmobile. The grove is about 4,666 acres with sequoias concentrated in the basin formed by Converse Creek.
Dispersed camping allowed in Converse Basin: Check with the Hume Lake Ranger District office. Distance: 2 hours from Fresno (63 miles) Boole Tree Trailhead: Outstanding views of Kings River Gorge
To Boole Tree - 1.5 hours. Moderate difficulty, 2.5 miles (carry water)
Chicago Stump - 20 minutes. Easy difficulty, flat dirt trail, .5 mile
Facilities: Restroom at Boole Tree trailhead