Sierra National Forest
The Sierra National Forest is located on the western slope of the central Sierra Nevada mountains about 50 miles east of Fresno, California. Its 1.3 million acres extend from the Merced River south to the Kings River and border Yosemite National Park. Forest terrain ranges from gently rolling, oak-covered foothills along the San Joaquin Valley to the rugged, majestic snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada crest.
The Sierra has 11 man-made reservoirs, 528,000 acres of designated wilderness, over 60 family campgrounds, two National Wild and Scenic Riversthe Kings River and the Merced Riverand 1,100 miles of hiking trails.
The Sierra Vista Scenic Drive is a spectacular four-hour trip. It starts near the Clover Meadow Ranger Station, winding 100 miles mostly through dense forest. Along the way are several overlooks with panoramic views of the central Sierra Nevada, including three wilderness areas. Designated about a decade ago, the drive is cobbled together from parts of Clover Meadow, Minarets Highway, Skyridge Road, and the Beasore Road.
One of Sierra's National Forest's best kept secrets is its big trees, which are every bit as grand as Yosemite next door, but much less heavily visited. Nelder Grove, with its 110 mature giant sequoias, is the best place to see the big trees.
Mammoth Pool is perhaps the most popular water destination. It's a narrow, five-mile-long reservoir fairly high up in the mountains, with 2,000 foot peaks rising above it. Mammoth Pool offers superior lake fishing and boating, and even some swimming beaches if you don't mind cold mountain water. Boaters who just have to have it in the winter when the road to Mammoth is closed might want to consider heading over to Redinger Lake. Redinger is lower in altitude, too hot to be enjoyable in the summer, but an okay spring or fall destination.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication