The Southern Sequoia Region
The Southern Region of Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument
This area is comprised of the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument, making it one of the most geographically diverse and remote in the country.
This spectacular region in the central eastern portion of Tulare County is often less crowded, and offers so much for those looking for adventure, exploration and a diverse landscape — with rolling foothills skirting the western edge of the Sierras, to majestic giant sequoia groves, high mountain peaks, steep river valleys, alpine lakes and the high desert in the east. Regardless of the season, this area has much to offer.
Giant Forest Museum, Buck Rock Lookout, Congress Trail, Crescent Meadow, Moro Rock, Crystal Cave, & Mineral King.
The Trail of 100 Giants is a paved, fully accessible hiking path that saunters through a stand of giant sequoias, some of which are as much as 1,500 years old. A self-guided tour offers 20 interpretive stations. Walk atop a fallen giant and gain a true appreciation for the size of these trees. Stroll at your leisure along the 1.3-mile-long trail within Long Meadow Grove on the Western Divide Highway.
Dome Rock, a granite monolith just off the Western Divide Highway, offers a breathtaking view. Although it is accessible to all ages, be careful at the top. There is no railing and it’s a 400-foot drop to the valley below.
Balch Park and Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest feature some of the largest old-growth giant sequoia groves containing more than 2,000 trees. Hike to Hidden Falls or marvel at the Oliver Twist Tree. Or you can bike, fish, picnic, swim and camp in these unique forested areas.
Bald Mountain Lookout provides a stunning, 360-degree view of the southern Sierra, including Mount Whitney and the Domeland giant crags. This is a unique botanical island boasting more than 100 different species of plant life, including five species of pine trees, two fir species and the Western Juniper.
Belknap Grove, made up of three smaller groves, is accessible from the moderate 3.7-mile Nelson Trail, starting from either Camp Nelson or the Quaking Aspen area. The 1,500-foot elevation change along the Tule River makes for a perfect afternoon hike. Fishing is available along most of the trail.
Our forests are a natural playground, with opportunities for every traveler to enjoy Tulare County’s eastern region.
Whether it’s a weekend or a week, there is plenty to see and do for the whole family. Many improved campgrounds are available in the Sequoia National Forest. For a list of campgrounds and regulations, visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/sequoia or recreation.gov.
Balch Park and Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest are a camper’s paradise. Well-stocked ponds and the Middle Fork of the Tule River, steps away from your campsite, offer excellent fishing.
Balch Park Campground, off of Highway 190 and up Balch Park Road, has campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Belknap Campground is nestled in the Camp Nelson community on the South Fork of the Tule River. Enjoy camping out under the giant sequoias, fishing and hiking.
Quaking Aspen Campground is located just off the highway. Minutes away from many attractions, this is an ideal base camp for exploring the Sequoia National Forest. Camp in style by reserving a yurt or even the Quaking Aspen Cabin.
Wishon Campground is open year-round with family campsites available by reservation, and the Wishon Cabin is available for rent. Located in the Sequoia National Forest at an elevation of 4,000 feet, the campground straddles two forks of the Tule River with many hiking and fishing opportunities.
You have just discovered one of the most exciting natural playgrounds in the world, with more than 1 million acres for fishing, hiking, backpacking, horse-back riding, rock climbing, biking, whitewater rafting and OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) riding.
Hiking & Trail Running
Dozens of day hikes are possible in this vast region. Some favorites:
The Freeman Creek Trail meanders through one of the largest giant sequoia groves with more than 800 trees more than 10 feet in diameter. It’s a 6-mile round-trip. To reach the area, take Lloyd Meadow Road from Johnsondale.
The Needles Lookout Trail is a 5-mile hike out and back to Needles Ridge, a formation of granite spires. The lookout is no longer there, but the scenery is, including a view of Mount Whitney, the Golden Trout Wilderness and the Kern River Valley.
Backpacking & Fishing
Maggie Lakes is a wonderful series of lakes nestled in the cirques of Maggie Mountain. Enjoy climbs to the numerous peaks, great fishing and pristine water. Leave from the Summit Trailhead and go 9.3 miles through numerous meadows and great vistas.
Backpack or ride horses from numerous trailheads into the Golden Trout Wilderness, named for the elusive fish that is native to this area of the Sierras. The easiest access is from Lloyd Meadows. A license is required and special restrictions apply. Fish to your heart’s content.
The Domeland Wilderness has awe-inspiring domes, spires and crags rising out of conifer forests. Domeland is perfect for those seeking a remote and crowdless getaway. Hike or ride horseback into Manter Meadow, the largest meadow in the area. Great fishing, rock climbing and wildlife viewing are available.
The Giant Sequoia National Monument is one of the only places in the world where you can bike along trails through groves of giant sequoias. A network of trails near Quaking Aspen accommodates cyclists of all experience levels. Bike rentals and shuttle services are available at Camp Nelson to take cyclists directly to the trailheads.
World-class rock climbing can be found throughout Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument. The Needles, Dome Rock and Elephant Knoll offer some of the best crack and face climbing in the Sierras that are easily accessible and without the crowds. Check out Church Domes in the Domeland Wilderness.
There is no finer location for off-highway vehicle recreation in the Sierras than the Kern Plateau within Sequoia National Forest. Riders of all levels are accommodated on this network of more than 300 miles of trails ranging in elevation from 2,500 to 9,900 feet. With easy access to numerous OHV trailheads, nearby OHV campgrounds and excellent trail signage, this is the place you’ve been searching for. The Kern River Motor Vehicle Opportunity Guide is an excellent publication that outlines regulations and contains an excellent map.
Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy nature’s bounty. Take your seat on a deck, or huddle next to a campfire as wind rushes through the trees, bringing with it the distant trickling of a mountain stream.
Cabins and Rooms
Fully outfitted cabins and rooms are available for rent in various mountain communities along Highway 190 and the Western Divide Highway, including Camp Nelson and Ponderosa. They are located amid numerous trails and attractions with general stores nearby. Don’t worry about having to rough it; you can explore the wilderness and enjoy all the comforts of home. The Sequoia National Forest also has cabins for rent. Some have electricity and are furnished.
Find out more at: www.fs.usda.gov/activity/sequoia/recreation/camping-cabins
Cozy Yurts at Quaking Aspen and Redwood Meadow
Enjoy the combined advantages of tent camping and cabin life; stay in a cozy yurt at Quaking Aspen Campground or Redwood Meadow. Modeled after the ancient shelters used by Central Asian nomads, the yurts will insulate you from the elements; they contain a bunk bed and futon for comfy nights.
Break out the snow boots and head up the hill. Quaking Aspen and the Kern Plateau are fantastic areas for sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Quaking Aspen Meadow
Quaking Aspen Meadow is a popular area for snow play, and a network of roads nearby offers great cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Over-snow vehicles are required to stay on roads in the Giant Sequoia National Monument.
For winter recreation maps, visit:
Kern Plateau is equally accommodating for snowmobiles as it is for off-highway vehicles. More than a dozen well-marked trails are open for over-snow vehicles, and hundreds of miles of trails and roads are open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
For information, visit: