Tag Archives: western sierra

Kings River California

Kings River California
Sierra Nevada
Kings Canyon National Park

snow

Kings River is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada mountains, spanning a 70+ miles of terrain from edge of the Eastern Sierra to the western Sierra foothill reservoirs, and down to the agricultural San Joaquin Valley @ Fresno, CA

Classification/Mileage:
Wild — 65.5 miles
Recreational — 15.5 miles
Total — 81.0 miles

Parks & Forests along Kings River:

Kings Canyon National Park
Sequoia National Forest
Sierra National Forest

The 272-mile long Kings River drops sharply in elevation from its headwaters high in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on its way to the Central Valley, flowing just south-east of Fresno. The dramatic descent generates electric power for dams and the river also helps irrigate cropland and provides fresh water to Central Valley communities.

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Sierra Nevada / Central California

Kings is the mighty river of the whole Sierra Nevada mountain range. Deep granite gorge, wild and dangerous, longest running river with abundant waterfalls, tributaries and runs along side a giant cavern too. The giant, rocky canyon for this big river is so impressive, that the created a National Park around it. Hence the name, Kings Canyon!

The snowmelt starts way up in the high elevation backcountry near the tiny alpine lakes at Kearsarge Pass and the tallest peaks of Mount Whitney. The Kings River passes thru Kings Canyon National Park and spills out into the large Pine Flat Reservoir, on the westen edge of the wilderness. The river continues down to the great California Central Valley to sloughs & irrigation canals for the big agriculture crops, which feed the world.

Views of High Sierra Lakes

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Kings River Recreation

  • backpacking

  • beaches

  • boating

  • canyons

  • car camping

  • creeks

  • forests

  • fishing

  • hiking

  • kayaking

  • rafting

  • reservoirs

  • RV camping

  • swimming

  • tubing

  • waterfalls

  • wildflowers

camp

Kings River Camping & Campgrounds

  • National Park Campgrounds
  • National Forest Campgrounds 
  • Dispersed Camping along Kings River
  • Pine Flat Lake Campgrounds
  • RV Parks near Kings River

Developed Campsite @ Kings River Recreation Area

Creeks & Lakes near Kings River:

Big Pine Creek / Sierra Road #9
Blackrock Reservoir
Black Rock Road #11S12
Courtright Lake
Gardiner Lakes (highcountry)
Pine Flat Reservoir (aka Sanger, CA and Trimmer Springs)
Wishon Lake

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see all Central Valley Reservoirs

Still Pond

Additional resources for Kings River:

Kings River Watershed

USDA Kings Wild and Scenic River

NPSplaque

Kings Canyon National Park:

Kings Canyon Visitor Center
(Grant Grove, on Highway 180)
559-565-4307

Cedar Grove Visitor Center
(summers only, end of Hwy 180)
559-565-3793

NFS Sequoia National Forest 
(south side of river)
Hume Lake Ranger District
559-338-2251

NFS Sierra National Forest
(north side of river)
High Sierra Ranger District
559-855-5355

ranger

towns along Kings River:

canoe

rivers.govKings River Online Topo Map

KINGS CANYON AREA MAPS:

 

Sequoia Kings Trail Map

Kings Canyon High Country Trail Map

Sequoia National Forest Map

Sierra National Forest Map

Pine Flat Reservoir

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Headwaters to the Kings:
features along the river, listed by fork

South Fork Kings River

South Fork is the most accessible part of the river inside the National Park. Well known and deepest part of the granite Kings Canyon, where Highway 180 dead ends

Although the South Fork waters begin as snow melt on top of the Inyo peaks of the High Sierra. About 20 miles NE of Cedar Grove (as the crow flies) and 33 miles by foot / trail

Mount Prater
Split Mountain
PCT @ John Muir Wilderness
Cardinal Lake
Bench Lake
Vennacher Needle
Mount Ruskin
Mannon Peak
State Peak
Arrow Peak
Dougherty Peak
Kid Creek
Arrow Creek
Kid Peak
Gardiner Creek
Glacier Creek
Glacier Monument
Bubbs Creek
Avalanche Creek
Mist Falls
Buck Peak
Bailey Bridge (footbridge)
Kanawyers
Zumwalt Meadows Trailhead
Granite Creek
Paved Loop Parking Lot
Highway 180
Roaring River Falls
Cedar Grove  (NPS campgrounds)
Cedar Grove Overlook
Avalanch Peak
Hotel Creek
Lewis Creek
Deer Cove Creek
Grizzly Creek
Boulder Creek
Windy Gulch Cascade
Boyden Cavern
Lockwood Creek

>> JCT w/ MID FORK <<<<

Middle Fork Kings River

Middle Fork begins at the alpine levels near
Helen Lake the Pacific Crest Trail
Langille Peak
Meadows near Dusy Basin Trail junction
The Citadel
Palisade Creek
Rambaud Creek
Cartridge Creek
Great Cliffs
Goddard Creek
Horseshoe Creek
Simpson Meadow
Ranger Station (backcountry)
Dougherty Creek
Slide Creek
Dog Creek
Alpine Creek
Blue Canyon (4600′ elev)
Crystal Creek
Painted Rock
Gorge of Despiar
Tehipite Switchbacks
Silver Creek
Monacrch Wilderness
Wren Creek
Tombstone Creek
Brush Canyon
Deer Canyon

>> JCT w/ South Fork <<<<

kings canyon 1992
Kings Canyon 1992

Highway 180 has a paved viewpoint overlook for this impressive, deep granite gorge with rivers intersecting. At this confluence of the Middle & South fork, we pick up with notable spots heading west.

Tenmile Creek
Rough Creek
Garlic Meadow Creek
Kings River NRT
Spring Creek
Converse Creek
Fox Canyon 1500′ elev
Verplank Creek
Garnet Dike
Mill Flat Creek
Trimmer Springs Road
Mill Flat Campground

>> JCT w/ North Fork <<<<

Bailey Bridge (steel road bridge)
Black Road Road #11S12 (Fresno Vomac Rd)
Pine Flat Reservoir
Big Creek / Sierra NF. Road #9

North Fork Kings River

Helms Creek connects Courtright Reservoir to Wishon. However, the official North Fork of Kings River begins below Wishon Reservoir and its gigantic granite gorge.
Rancheria Creek
Teakettle Creek
Mule Creek
Black Rock Reservoir
Patterson Creek
Basin Creek
Dinkey Creek

boatramp

Mountain Home Sequoia

Mountain Home State Forest
Mountain Home Sequoias

2022 – THIS FOREST may be CLOSED,
due to the Castle Fire 2020

mtnhome

North of the Giant Sequoia , above the Western Divide Highway (CA 190) sits a little known Sequoia Park called Mountain Home. This lush forested area separates the Sequoia National Park (to the north) from the Giant Sequoia National Monument  (to the south).

Mountain Home is just up the mountain from the West Sierra river town of Springville, CA

horseback

Western Sierra Nevada

In part of the vast Sequoia National Forest, lies a hidden gem of State Forest land worth visiting. Waterfalls, the Tule River, fishing ponds, campgrounds and easy access to Golden Trout Wilderness trails.

MHDSF

The official name of this forest: Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest is quite a mouth full, so most just call it “Mountain Home”. In short MHDSF is managed by Cal-Fire and the California State Park system.

the Largest old growth Sequoias in the state!

Numerous awesome Campgrounds can be found near the Sequoia groves, the Tule River, hiking trailheads, fishing, waterfalls. Balch Park is the County Park, listed below.

    • Sequoia Backpacking
    • Sequoia Backroads
    • Sequoia Campgrounds
    • Sequoia Groves
    • Fishing Pond
    • Hiking Trails
    • Horseback Trails
    • Mountain Biking
    • Tule River
    • Waterfalls
    • Wilderness
    • Wildflowers

Balch Park Sequoia
located within the Mountain Home State Forest is a popular destination for the locals and families. Balch Park Campground is paved and RV accessible. 71 campsites, on first come basis.

fishin
Small pond fishing near Balch Park

Meadows, mountain peaks, streams, waterfalls, huge granite rocks & cliffs are all over. Plus some secluded groves of Giant Sequoia trees. Mosquitos can be annoying in these parts, so bring the chemical warfare and the screen room tent.snow

Roads Open: May – October
Forest mountain roads close annually, due to winter snow

meadows

SEQUOIA_map
SEQUOIA NF MAP

Area activities include:

Backpacking
Back Road Exploration
Campground Camping
Fishing
Hiking
Horseback Riding
Meadows
Mountain Biking
Picnic
Sequoia Groves
Swimming Holes
Tule River (North Fork)
Golden Trout Wilderness

USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised for this area. There are many dirt roads & numerous trails. Minimal cell phone signal inside these dense forests and large granite river canyons. GPS even has trouble getting connected, due to the immense canopy of trees.

Mountain Home Backpacking

hikerShake Camp – Best hiking trail access to Golden Trout Wilderness

In the backcountry, tent camping is allowed any place on soil 100 feet from trail or water. No camping on meadows. Ground fires are very allowed with fire permit. Use existing camp site when available. Check with the correct ranger district for all back country camping rules. Wilderness permits are needed for backpackers and horse packers staying overnight in the wilderness area.

Local Ranger Stations:

TH_GoldenTroutSQ
Golden Trout Trail Maps

Sequoia USFS Headquarters
Porterville, CA
559-784-1500

Tule River Ranger District
Springville, CA
559-539-2607

Mountain Home Backroads

Dirt back roads are so narrow they cannot accommodate the large motorhome or RV traveler.  Trucks pulling horse trailers are common, with very few options for a pull-out to pass.

This forested area is filled with old logging roads that lead to lush Sequoia groves & meadows.  The whole network of forest roads back here either –  loop back to each other, or deal end, often at a trailhead parking area. No roads connect through to any other portion of the Sierra range. Golden Trout Wilderness is a road-less area of the Southern Sierra Nevada.

Signs Not Reflective

The old skool, painted, wooden road signs do not READ well at night, so avoid arriving in the dark.

When it’s dark outside, it is best to STOP: Shut off the vehicle, get out and take a stretch break,  find the north star; Get your bearing straight, look at the real map with a flashlight – before driving miles to an unknown destination, just to turn around.

Be very aware of the Forest Service signage, use your trip meter for clocking mileage. Have a good map on hand. See MAP ABOVE.  It is very easy to get lost in this forest and you may end up driving for hours, maybe in circles. I swear this intersection looks familiar.

Road Signs

Mountain Home Campgrounds 

camp

Balch and Frazier are the two larger, developed campgrounds; all others are smaller camps w/ primitive facilities.

NOTE: all the Campgrounds in this forest now charge an overnight fee for camping. (Decades ago they were free, but not anymore.)

Balch Park Campground
Frazier Mill Campground
Hedrick Pond Camp

Hidden Falls Campground
Moses Gulch Campground
Shake Camp

campground elev. spots toilet water nearby comments
Moses Gulch 5500′ 10 pit river Tule River no trailers
Hidden Falls 6150′ 8 pit river Tule River no trailers
Shake Camp 6490′ 11 pit piped Golden Trout
Wilderness
backpack & horse trailhead
Hedrick Pond 6200′ 14 vault piped fishing pond RV ok; no hookups
Frazier Mill 6150′ 46 pit piped Sequoia Grove RV ok; no hookups
Balch Park 6000′ 71 flush piped fishing pond Tulare County Park

Frasier Mill Campground is spelled w/ a Z (like Frazier)on many printed maps and inside some camping books, but the proper spelling (on a sign at the campground) is actually Frasier w/ an S. This camp is located at the site of an old lumber mill. Meadows, trailheads, picnic areas, parking.

Decent signage leads to smaller, secluded campgrounds and hiking trail heads. Dirt road driving will be required. See BACKROADS (above heading) for tips on back road driving and night time arrivals.

Plenty of trails for horses back in these parts, most of them lead to Golden Trout Wilderness. Watch out for oncoming vehicles with horse trailers!

No primitive camping outside of developed campgrounds. Due to fire dangers around these majestic Sequoia trees. You must camp within the designated campground, or HOOF IT into the the wilderness for backpacking.

Mountain Home Hiking

hikerNumerous trails around each campground area will lead to the waters edge @ Tule River; into the Golden Trout Wilderness (for longer day hikes), along creeks w/ wildflowers, near lush meadows or through Giant Sequoia Groves.

Deer Ridge & Bogus Meadow Hike

Mountain Home Biking

Bikes are limited to existing paved and dirt roads; NO SINGLE TRACK trails for mountain bikers – due to the fragile, shallow roots of Sequoia groves, and the direct access to Wilderness.  NO bikes in the Golden Trout Wild!

coldriver
Cold Swimming Hole

mtnhomesign

Nearby towns:

Camp Nelson, CA
Ponderosa, CA
Porterville, CA
Springville, CA