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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
  • Local Info

    The summer months can be dangerously hot so water and sun protection are key. When it's hot, plan on bringing at least 1-2 liters of water for every hour you expect to hike (average casual pace is 2 miles/hour, depending on elevation and other conditions).

    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.

    Gems in Sequoia National Forest - 1

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    gem Favorite Boole Tree

    Boole Tree

    (1) Squaw V…, CA

    Recommended Routes in Sequoia National Forest - 11

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    Favorite Crossing the Bull Run Creek
    Intermediate

    Whiskey Flat Out-and-Back

    12.4 mi 19.9 km 903' Up 275.35 m Up 903' Down 275.32 m Down

    Kernville, CA
    Favorite Giant Sequoias
    Easy

    Trail of 100 Giants

    1.3 mi 2.1 km 130' Up 39.48 m Up 130' Down 39.49 m Down

    Alta Si…, CA
    Favorite Weaver Lake
    Intermediate

    Fox Meadow Trailhead to Weaver Lake

    4.1 mi 6.6 km 780' Up 237.69 m Up 779' Down 237.36 m Down

    Three R…, CA
    Favorite On the trail looking NE.
    Intermediate

    The Needles Lookout

    9.9 mi 16.0 km 1,659' Up 505.69 m Up 1,659' Down 505.67 m Down

    Alta Si…, CA
    Favorite No Photos
    Intermediate

    Unal Interpretive Trail

    3.8 mi 6.1 km 730' Up 222.55 m Up 730' Down 222.45 m Down

    Alta Si…, CA
    Favorite The poppies are about to take over this hill. Somewhere in CA, east of Bakersfield.
    Difficult

    Mill Creek Trail Out-and-Back

    16.0 mi 25.8 km 4,382' Up 1335.7 m Up 4,378' Down 1334.43 m Down

    Bodfish, CA
    Favorite Southern Sierras 39
    Easy/Intermediate

    Isabella Peak Out-and-Back

    2.2 mi 3.5 km 376' Up 114.61 m Up 376' Down 114.57 m Down

    Wofford…, CA
    Favorite Church Dome, although "Church Spires" might be a better name. The highest Pinnacle is Class 5 via the easiest route. The pinnacle on the left is Class 5.5. Climbers have given names to twelve of the formations in this picture.
    Difficult

    Heart of the Domelands

    28.3 mi 45.6 km 3,737' Up 1139.09 m Up 3,763' Down 1146.98 m Down

    Kernville, CA
    Favorite Enjoy the view from 8200' near the top of the Bear Creek Trail looking west.
    Difficult

    Bear Creek Trail

    5.0 mi 8.0 km 3,642' Up 1110.11 m Up 5' Down 1.62 m Down

    East Po…, CA
    Favorite Dry Creek meets the Kern River
    Difficult

    Kern River Upper to Rincon Trail

    13.8 mi 22.3 km 1,814' Up 552.8 m Up 1,821' Down 555.06 m Down

    Kernville, CA
    Favorite Manter Meadow in the late afternoon. On the right side, there is a sideways view of the Church Dome ridge. You have to leave the trail and hike closer to the meadows for this view.
    Intermediate/Difficult

    Manter Meadow Loop

    9.3 mi 15.0 km 1,396' Up 425.35 m Up 1,385' Down 422.15 m Down

    Kernville, CA

    Sequoia National Forest Hiking

    • 468 Miles 754 Kilometers of Trail
    • 11 Recommended Routes
    • 1 Gem Gems
    • 11 Easy Trails Easy Trails
    • 25 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
    • 21 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
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    Areas Within Sequoia National Forest

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    Trails in Sequoia National Forest - 46

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    117.1 mi 188.4 km #1PCT: Walker Pass to Crabtree Meadow (near Mt Whitney)
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Inyokern, CA
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Inyokern, CA
    3.6 mi 5.8 km #2Stony Creek Trail
    Difficult
    Three Rivers, CA
    Difficult
    Three Rivers, CA
    16.0 mi 25.7 km #3Keyesville Road to Black Gulch 26S06
    Difficult
    Lake Isabella, CA
    Difficult
    Lake Isabella, CA
    14.4 mi 23.2 km #4Crawford Road
    Intermediate
    East Porterville, CA
    Intermediate
    East Porterville, CA
    0.6 mi 0.9 km #5Indian Basin Unpaved Trail
    Easy
    Squaw Valley, CA
    Easy
    Squaw Valley, CA
    0.7 mi 1.1 km #6Indian Basin Paved Trail
    Easy
    Squaw Valley, CA
    Easy
    Squaw Valley, CA
    3.1 mi 5.0 km #7Hume Lake Trail
    Easy
    Squaw Valley, CA
    Easy
    Squaw Valley, CA
    2.3 mi 3.8 km #8Boole Tree Trail
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Squaw Valley, CA
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Squaw Valley, CA
    11.1 mi 17.9 km #9Forks of the Kern (33E20)
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Kernville, CA
    Intermediate/Difficult
    Kernville, CA
    4.3 mi 7.0 km #10JO Pass Trail
    Difficult
    Three Rivers, CA
    Difficult
    Three Rivers, CA

    Photos of Sequoia National Forest - 74

    Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Photos

    The last remnants of snow on the northeastern slope of Remington Ridge.
    Aug 28, 2021 near Bodfish, CA
    Church Dome, although "Church Spires" might be a better name. The highest Pinnacle is Class 5 via the easiest route. The pinnacle on the left is Class 5.5. Climbers have given names to twelve of the formations in this picture.
    Jun 18, 2019 near Weldon, CA
    Overlooking Kern Canyon from the lower Remington Ridge Trail.
    Aug 28, 2021 near Bodfish, CA
    There is great fly fishing along the Kern River.
    Apr 24, 2017 near Kernville, CA
    Dry Creek meets the Kern River
    Jul 3, 2019 near Kernville, CA
    Enjoy the view from 8200' near the top of the Bear Creek Trail looking west.
    Jul 3, 2017 near East Po…, CA
    Views of the forest off the lake.
    Jun 26, 2022 near Squaw V…, CA
    Giant Sequoias
    Jun 26, 2022 near Alta Si…, CA