Of course, traditionally Memorial Day weekend has been one of the busiest times for the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument.
The forest service stated forest staff are working to bring first come, firs serve campgrounds back online, and most are projected to be available by this weekend. Services may be limited in some areas, the forest service stated.
“On Memorial Day, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Please join Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Teresa Benson in honoring all the heroes who gave their lives in military service to this nation,” the forest service stated.
With the COVID-19 pandemic likely a factor in people wanting to get out, there were 168 million visitors to national forests in the past year, an increase of 20 million.
The schedule for openings is closely in line with typical recreation site openings in past years, the forest service stated.
Recreation crews are currently assessing sites and completing work such as removing hazardous trees, brushing, and sweeping the roads, cleaning areas, fire rings and restrooms, and turning on and testing water systems before opening sites. “Protecting our visitors and employees remains our highest priority,” the forest service stated.
Forest staff is working with concessionaire, California Land Management, and state and local partners to open developed sites. Reserved campsites are nearing capacity; call 877-444-6777 for campsite availability or visit www.recreation.gov to reserve a site.
Most trails, trailheads, and day-use sites remain open except the area burned in last summer’s Castle Fire on the Western Divide Ranger District. View the Castle Fire Forest Closure Order at www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd886774.pdf.
The forest service announced last week no campfires will be allowed below 5,000 feet on forest land.
To view the campfire restrictions, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sequoia/notices/.
Persons with a valid California Campfire Permit can use portable stoves and lanterns with shut-off valves using pressurized gas, liquid fuel, or propane. Free California Campfire Permits are available online at www.preventwildfire.ca.
WESTERN DIVIDE RANGER DISTRICT
The Trail of 100 Giants is open, accessible from Springville or California Hot Springs. There's a $10 day-use fee collected by California Land Management at the parking area. Parking will be limited this weekend. Parking on the side of the road is prohibited.
Lands managed by the Sequoia National Forest between Camp Nelson and Ponderosa communities remain closed under a Forest Closure Order. All travelers along Highway 190 or Redwood Drive through the fire area should use extreme caution when driving. Be aware of potential safety hazards such as fire weakened trees, falling rocks, mud, and debris on and near the roadway.
Wilderness access is limited to Black Rock Trailhead until roads and trails can be cleared of hazards. The Lloyd Meadow Road is closed to vehicle traffic from the junction with Forest Road 22S53. Lower Peppermint Campground is closed for the summer and is being used as a staging area for Castle Fire recovery efforts.
For current information regarding holiday travel, contact the Western Divide Ranger District visitor information line (559) 920-0460. Effective June 7, the District will resume in-person services in Springville Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., (559) 539-2607. COVID-19 precautions will be in place for visitors and employees.
HUME LAKE RANGER DISTRICT
Overnight lodging may be available at Montecito Lake Resort (800) 227-9900 and Stony Creek Lodge (877) 828-1440 in addition to lodging in the neighboring Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
• Wilderness trailheads for the Jennie Lakes area are open for hikers. The Deer Cove Trailhead is open to access the Monarch Wilderness; the trail past the ridge remains closed due to hazards. The Kanawyer Trail is closed until further notice due to trail conditions. Wilderness permits are not required for the Jennie Lakes or Monarch Wilderness areas managed by the Forest Service.
• The following roads will remain closed due to hazards: Boulder Creek (FR-13S23) Road, Tornado Meadow (FR-13S26), Camp 7 (FR-13S05, FR-13S50), and Chimney Rock Road (FR-14S29). Visitors are expected to “pack it in, pack it out” when visiting public lands, and overnight stays are limited to 14 nights.
• For current information regarding holiday travel, contact the Hume Lake Ranger District visitor information line (559) 791-5758. Effective June 7, the District will resume in-person services in Dunlap Monday’s and Friday’s 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., (559) 338-2251. Covid-19 precautions will be in place for visitors and employees.
Sequoia National Forest officials continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation. The forest service stated those visiting the forest should review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state guidelines.
For information on projected recreation site opening dates and locations, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/sequoia/, email SM.FS.SequoiaNF@usda.gov, or follow the Sequoia National Forest on Facebook @SequoiaNF.