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Sequoia National Forest

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Overview

Made up of three districts (Hume Lake, Western Divide, and Kern River), Sequoia National Forest is nestled between the Central Valley to the west, Yosemite National Park and Sierra National Forest to the north, Owens Valley and US 395 to the east, and Lake Isabella to the south.

Named after the giant sequoia tree, this National Forest is home to dozens of tree groves, like those found in Giant Sequoia National Monument. Due to recent fire activity in 2020 and 2021, many giant sequoias were damaged or destroyed, with estimates between 10-15% of the total population. Beware of forest closures that have also been a result of the fires.

At around 314,000 acres of wilderness and close to 1,200 miles of trail, this forest attracts hikers, backpackers, trail runners, and mountain bikers from near and far, coming to explore the vastness of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Elevation is anywhere from 1,000 feet to over 10,000 feet above sea level with numerous microclimates, plant and animal species, and geological formations.

Easy hikes:

  • Trail of 100 Giants
  • Isabella Peak Out-and-Back
  • The Stairs
  • Fox Meadow Trailhead to Weaver Lake
  • Intermediate hikes:

  • Whiskey Flat Out-and-Back
  • Forks of the Kern (33E20)
  • Unal Interpretive Trail
  • Difficult hikes:

  • The Needles Lookout
  • Heart of the Domelands
  • Bear Creek Trail
  • Mill Creek Trail Out-and-Back
  • Visiting Tips

    With a couple exceptions, like the Trail of 100 Giants, parking and access to Sequoia National Forest are free.

    Leashed dogs are also allowed throughout most of Sequoia National Forest and if you aren't near any water for them, plan on bringing around 1 ounce per pound that the dog weighs (40 lb dog = 40 ounces or 1.2 liters of water) for an average day hike.

    Camping & Lodging

    Lots of tent, car, and backcountry camping options to choose from. The National Forest offers 52 developed campgrounds that are run by Rocky Mountain Recreation Company and reservations can be made at Recreation.gov. Make sure to check for seasonal or fire closures, though some sites are available year-round.

    Check out these camping options as a place to start:
  • Hungry Gulch Campground (Open May - September)
  • Breckenridge Campground
  • Headquarters Campground
  • Food & Drink

    McNally's Burgers are a must for any drive on Mountain Hwy 99, north of Kernville, just 10 minutes south of the Johnsondale Bridge.

    Other Activities

    Whether you're looking to plan a multi-sport adventure or another way to experience this unique landscape, there's lots of activities to choose from. Rock climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing, and backcountry skiing and snowboarding are some of the most popular options.

    Recommended Routes in Sequoia National Forest - 6

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    Favorite View from the Plunge to Lake Isabella
    Difficult

    Cannell Trail - IMBA EPIC

    25.5 mi 41.1 km 1,718' Up 523.56 m Up 8,030' Down 2447.56 m Down

    Kernville, CA
    Favorite Droppin' in near the top of Dutch Flat trail.
    Difficult

    Just Outstanding to Dutch Flat

    13.2 mi 21.2 km 642' Up 195.83 m Up 4,933' Down 1503.47 m Down

    Alta Si…, CA
    Favorite Rolling the Kern River trail on a perfect day.
    Intermediate/Difficult

    Kern River Trail

    16.8 mi 27.0 km 2,163' Up 659.26 m Up 2,902' Down 884.68 m Down

    Bodfish, CA
    Favorite Singletrack at the junction of Pearl Harbor Drive and Keyesville Classic
    Intermediate

    Keyesville Classic

    7.7 mi 12.4 km 983' Up 299.54 m Up 982' Down 299.19 m Down

    Lake Is…, CA
    Favorite Imagine finding a tree so large that it dwarfed the tallest building known at the time.  Before it became the Chicago Stump, the General Noble Tree was the largest tree ever cut.  It would have taken about 18 men with arms outstretched to complete a tree hug.
    Difficult

    Millwood to Chicago Stump and Park Ridge Loop

    23.9 mi 38.5 km 3,758' Up 1145.52 m Up 3,759' Down 1145.6 m Down

    Squaw V…, CA
    Favorite Trail through a tree.
    Very Difficult

    Slate Mountain Loop from Camp Nelson

    23.3 mi 37.5 km 4,710' Up 1435.62 m Up 4,710' Down 1435.63 m Down

    Strathmore, CA

    Sequoia National Forest Biking

    • 209 Miles 337 Kilometers of Trail
    • 6 Recommended Routes
    • 4 Easy Trails Easy Trails
    • 11 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
    • 11 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
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    Areas Within Sequoia National Forest

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    Trails in Sequoia National Forest - 20

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    4.7 mi 7.6 km #1Just Outstanding
    Intermediate
    Alta Sierra, CA
    Intermediate
    Alta Sierra, CA 15 
    8.2 mi 13.1 km #2Mill Creek Trail (31E78)
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Bodfish, CA
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Bodfish, CA
    3.4 mi 5.4 km #3Unal Interpretive Trail
    Intermediate
    Alta Sierra, CA
    Intermediate
    Alta Sierra, CA
    19.8 mi 31.9 km #4Summit Trail
    Difficult
    Lindsay, CA
    Difficult
    Lindsay, CA
    6.6 mi 10.7 km #5Bear Creek Trail
    Very Difficult
    East Porterville, CA
    Very Difficult
    East Porterville, CA
    3.9 mi 6.3 km #6Nelson Trail
    Difficult
    Strathmore, CA
    Difficult
    Strathmore, CA
    2.8 mi 4.6 km #7Hume Lake Trail
    Easy/Intermediate
    Squaw Valley, CA
    Easy/Intermediate
    Squaw Valley, CA
    2.7 mi 4.4 km #8Kramer Meadow Trail
    Easy/Intermediate
    Alta Sierra, CA
    Easy/Intermediate
    Alta Sierra, CA
    6.1 mi 9.9 km #9Abbot Creek Road
    Difficult
    Squaw Valley, CA
    Difficult
    Squaw Valley, CA
    9.7 mi 15.6 km #10Cannell Meadow
    Difficult
    Kernville, CA
    Difficult
    Kernville, CA

    Photos of Sequoia National Forest - 82

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    Droppin' in near the top of Dutch Flat trail.
    Sep 25, 2017 near Lake Is…, CA
    View from the Plunge to Lake Isabella
    Nov 6, 2016 near Kernville, CA
    Imagine finding a tree so large that it dwarfed the tallest building known at the time.  Before it became the Chicago Stump, the General Noble Tree was the largest tree ever cut.  It would have taken about 18 men with arms outstretched to complete a tree hug.
    May 29, 2014 near Squaw V…, CA
    Challenging Loop even on E-mtb! Hint: No peddal assist until Quaken ;-)
    Jun 15, 2020 near East Po…, CA
    Tony droppin' one of the many technical sections.
    Sep 25, 2017 near Lake Is…, CA
    Bombin' it!
    Sep 25, 2017 near Kernville, CA
    Dutch Flat Fun
    Jan 2, 2018 near Lake Is…, CA
    Slick rockin'!
    Sep 25, 2017 near Lake Is…, CA