4 of the 20 largest trees (giant sequoias) in the world; 8,000-year-old archaeological site
HIGHLIGHTS: Located in Tulare County, this 4,807-acre state forest supports includes part of Mountain Home Grove, which is home to four of the 20 largest trees in the world. Some of these giant sequoias reach heights of 240 feet and diameters of 27 feet. So impressive are the trees at Mountain Home that John Muir purchased the tract from a logging company, deeming it “the finest in the Sierra.” More than 5,000 ancient giant sequoias are protected here through judicious management of the surrounding mixed conifer forest.
Local Native Americans used Mountain Home as a summer camp, and the property contains archaeological sites that date back 8,000 years.
ACTIVITIES: Hiking and camping are the preeminent activities at Mountain Home. The forest supports several miles of trails, and provides access to the Sierra high country. Mountain biking and horseback riding are allowed on all trails and roads, and the forest supports a pack station for stock-supported forays into the High Sierra. Fishing is also a popular pursuit. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks trout in Hedrick Pond, and angling also is good on the Wishon Fork of the Tule River.
VISITOR CENTER: Tulare County maintains a visitor center at adjacent Balch Park. Phone: 559-539-2227.
CAMPGROUNDS: Mountain Home has five campgrounds, generally open from May through October. Camping also is provided at Balch Park. Camping at Mountain Home requires a permit and fee. No showers. Not recommended for RVs or trailers over 30 feet.
TRAILS: Mountain Home has more than 14 miles of trails. A particularly good route for viewing mature giant sequoias is the first quarter-mile of the Memorial Trail. The Loop Trail (1 mile) and Nature Trail (2 miles) are easy hikes that skirt stands of magnificent giant sequoias.
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: The Mountain Home region was a favored hunting and foraging ground for Native Americans; the state maintains an interpretive exhibit at Sunset Point, where visitors can explore an archaeological site that dates back 8,000 years. Mountain Home also has spectacular displays of blossoming dogwood during the spring.
HIDDEN GEM: Multiple deep basins dubbed the “Indian Bathtubs” are located on several granite outcrops. Resembling giant mortar holes, their origin is unclear. Given their arrangement and symmetry, however, it generally is assumed they were created by members of the Yokut, Paiute and Mono tribes that frequented the area.
FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Some restrooms are accessible, as is one campsite at Frasier Mill.
DOGS: Allowed throughout the forest on leash or under voice control.
ENTRANCE FEES: No entrance fees are required.
SPECIAL EVENTS: No events are regularly scheduled at Mountain Home. Civic or private groups may arrange special activities. Check with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) for updates.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit the Mountain Home website or call 559-539-2321 (summer) or 559-539-2855 (winter).
PLACES TO EAT AND STAY: The nearby cities of Porterville and Visalia have numerous options for both dining and lodging. Springville has some bed-and-breakfast inns.
EAT: Shawn Marchand, former League Land Project Manager, recommends grabbing an affordable and delicious bite to eat at Pierpoint Springs Diner (external link).
STOP: As you drive to Pierpoint Springs, Shawn suggests taking a hike on one of the many Forest Service trails along the way or stopping at Lake Success.
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Acres Protected by the League: 53
Getting There: Driving Directions
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