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DAY TRIP TO SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST

The cool mountain air and smell of fresh pine trees await you as you head to the Mountain Home State Forest area of Sequoia National Forest, just east of Visalia. This is a day of outdoor fun, of blue skies, and of standing in awe of giant sequoia trees, the largest living things on the planet.  

Planning ahead:

Before you head out, pack up some essentials. You are headed to the great outdoors so you need to be prepared. Pack your cooler with lunch, snacks and drinks. Many Visalia restaurants can provide you with box lunches that have all the things you need for a delicious meal - great food, utensils, plates, napkins - so that you are well prepared. Pick up a variety of snacks as well. The local farmers market and Naturally Nuts are great options for some healthy choices.

It is also best to bring your own hygiene products, including items for your own hand washing station would be helpful. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just effective: water, soap, paper towels. If you are feeling creative, here are some other ideas from Pinterest.

Most importantly, take your trash home with you. Leave no trace is an excellent motto to remember when visiting these spectacular areas. 

Ready to head out:

Get an early start to your day. Though not far in miles, the roads through the foothills and mountains require a more leisurely pace. Plan on about 1 ½ hours to reach your destination. There are two routes you can follow. The faster route (by about 15 minutes) is via highway 198 east to 65 south and then east again on Highway 190. Or you can take a more leisurely route through Yokohl Valley. 

Mountain Home State Forest: This area is popular for recreational activities like fishing, hiking, hunting, horseback riding and picnicking. At 4,000’-6,000’ in elevation, you can expect cooler  weather in the summer months. Bear Creek Road and Balch Park Road (off of Yokohl Valley Road) meet to form a loop that can take about 2 hours to drive through the Mountain Home grove of giant sequoias. 

Balch Park: This park is operated by Tulare County Parks and Recreation and has a small museum highlighting the historic logging of this beautiful grove. There are 2 ponds that are stocked with fish regularly during the summer season and are open to the public for fishing.

Fun Fact: Balch Park has been the film location of many movies, commercials, music videos and TV shows including the movie Hulk and a Chevy Equinox commercial. Take a look at the pond area - does it look familiar?

HorseBack Riding: Book a trail ride through the sequoia groves with Balch Park Pack Station. Rides are from 1 hour long to a full day. Your guides are experts in the area and you will be sure to see some amazing sites. Advanced reservations are recommended. Balchpark.com (559) 539-3896.

Fishing: There are many opportunities to fish. The California Department of Fish and Game stocks three ponds in the area with trout for public fishing. Two of the ponds are located at Balch Park (owned and operated by Tulare County) while the other, Hedrick Pond, is part of Mountain Home. The Wishon Fork of the Tule River is also popular with anglers.


Interesting Sites:

Native Americans that once lived here, left evidence of their life here. Grinding holes used in preparing food can be seen throughout the area if you look carefully. 

Indian Bathtubs: These “bathtubs” are deep basins found on granite outcrops near Sunset Point Picnic Area. Likely carved by local native American Yaundanchi and Yokut tribes, these large (bathtub sized) man-made basins, similar to bedrock mortars used to grind food, are interesting to see. 

Hercules Tree: This giant sequoia is very unusual. Carved into the base of the tree is a large room that at one time included a door. Local rancher Jesse Hoskins began carving in 1897 and used this as a cabin during the summer. You can find it on the road between Frasier Mill and Hidden Falls.

Hiking:

Although more trails are available, we recommend these three easy hikes that allow for viewing of giant sequoias.

Loop Trail: Moderate 2-mile trail that begins and ends at Shake Camp. You will see the Adam tree, the second largest tree in the Mountain Home State Forest.

Nature Trail: An easy, one mile trail that begins at Balch Park and passes the Lady Alice Tree. Check the museum for a self-guided trail brochure.

Memorial Trail: One of the best trails for viewing the giant sequoias within a short distance.



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©2020 Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 2734 Visalia, CA 93279
112 E Main St, Visalia, CA 93291
(800) 524-0303 : (559) 334-0141