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Sequoia National Forest

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Sequoia National Forest Overview

The sequoia (sequoiadendron giganteum) is the world's largest living thing, a fact that doesn't truly impress until you find yourself smack in the middle of a grove of these giant trees. Then, in the filtered, greenish light descending from the canopy far overhead and amid the indefinable hush created by thousands of years of accumulated forest duff, you'll feel it in your gut. To be in the presence of these trees is to be in the presence of the sacred.

More than half of the world's existing sequoia groves are found in Sequoia National Forest, which is reason enough to pay a visit. The giant sequoia, a cousin of the coast redwood, grows only in California. These majestic trees have reached ages of 3,200 years, diameters of 38 feet, and individual weights of 600 tons.

As well as being a sanctuary to these giants, the Sequoia National Forest is home to the granddaddy of 'em all, the Boole Tree. This giant among the bunch stands 269 feet head to foot and boasts a base circumference of an astonishing 113 feet. You'll find the more than 2000-year-old Boole growing just north of Converse Mountain on the Hume Lake Road.

But Sequoia National Forest is more than just sequoias. It's about great fishing, biking, and hiking. Three National Recreation Trails and a section of the Pacific Crest Trail are found here, as well as the High Sierra scenery that inspired naturalist and conservationist John Muir and noted photographer Ansel Adams.

Hike the Trail of a Hundred Giants
Both the name and the effect of Trail of a Hundred Giants are understated. The trail is located within the Long Meadow Giant Sequoia Grove, one of the most southerly groves of giant Sequoias, and if fact there are many more than 100 giants. This grove contains 125 giant sequoias greater than 10 feet in diameter and 143 sequoias under 10 feet in diameter. The largest tree in the grove has a diameter of 20 feet and a height of 220 feet. The grove encompasses 355 acres. But numbers alone can't do justice to the experience of walking into this cathedral-like grove for the first time. Before you hang up your boots, you have to do it.

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Bike Among the Giants
The 16.6-mile round-trip out-and-back ride on Forest Service Road 1305 takes you through some wonderful sequoia groves and to great views of the Monarch Divide. The ride to the turnaround point is a long, moderately difficult ascent punctuated by short, steep climbs. Eventually, you'll come to a magnificent vista. At the roadside the mountain drops off steeply, leaving you with a grand view of Monarch Divide. The gray and bluish rock faces of this geologic formation are striking. Spanish Mountain and Obelisk can be seen high above; below is the Monarch Wilderness Area bordering the South Fork of the Kings River. The trip back down is fast and fun, and concludes not far from Hume Lake, where you can wash off the trail dust with a refreshing dip.

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Ski Sherman Pass Road
Enjoy traveling by ski on the groomed trail known as Sherman Pass Road. At the beginning of your climb, you'll travel through sagebrush desert. The steep climb will bring you to thick pine forest, and then you'll head back down to the Ridgecrest Desert. Sherman Pass Road, located in the Cannel Meadow Ranger District, also offers many diverging trails and roads for skiers looking for a little more solitude.

Raft the North Fork of the Kern
Welcome to whitewater paradise—the Forks of the Kern River. The Kern is a National Wild and Scenic River, and the Forks section dishes out some of the finest raftable whitewater in North America. The Forks is a nearly continuous series of Class IV and V rapids and waterfalls.

Fish Hume Lake
You'll be nicely surprised at the size and quantity of rainbow trout at Hume lake. The lake is lightly fished and well stocked with 10- to 12-inch trout. Hume Lake is great for shore fishing—the best spot is on the southern corner of the dam—and ice fishing in winter.

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