SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST – As winter approaches, Sequoia National Forest officials have issued seasonal road closures that affect most Forest Service-administered roads within the Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest.
These closures are in anticipation of an approaching winter storm system, which were put into place on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Anyone planning to explore the Monument or Forest during the winter months should do so with advanced preparation, at the recommendation of the U.S. Forest Service. Numerous high-elevation roads under the county’s jurisdiction will be closing for the season, including the closure of Mountain Road 50 over Parker Pass. Additionally, State Highway 190 remains inaccessible to the public.
Seasonal road closures are a routine occurrence in the Sequoia National Forest, serving various purposes such as ensuring safety and protecting roadbeds from snow, snow drifts, ice and extreme weather conditions. While vehicle access is restricted, these areas remain open for foot traffic unless it is indicated otherwise.
Travelers in the forest should be prepared for a variety of conditions, with chain requirements possible at any elevation. Please be wary of black ice on roadways; it is also recommended to carry chains in your vehicle. Adequate readiness for wet and cold weather includes extra winter clothing, warm sleeping bags or blankets, a flashlight with fresh batteries, as well as provisions of food and water.
Any updates on road closure and chain control can be found on the Caltrans website at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi.
The Hume Lake Ranger District offers popular winter snow play areas, including Quail Flat and Big Meadows winter trailheads, accessible via the General’s Highway. Visitors can reach these sites by making a right turn past the Big Stump Entrance Station off Highway 180.
Both of these trailheads offer safe parking and restroom facilities. Weather permitting, when there is more than 12 inches of snow, these locations provide access to sixteen miles of groomed snowmobile routes and several miles of opportunities for snowshoeing or backcountry skiing. It is essential to practice Leave No Trace principles by carrying out all garbage.
If you decide to stop at a turnout along the highway for snow play, ensure your vehicle is parked entirely off the roadway. Supervise children closely to prevent them from playing on roads or sledging into traffic. Please be aware that there are no garbage or restroom services at highway turnouts; responsible disposal of garbage in your home trash bin is required.
Additionally, be considerate of other visitors, especially during weekends, to avoid blocking vehicles attempting to leave congested areas.
Snowmobiling is limited to designated roads within the Giant Sequoia National Monument, and many of these roads are specifically posted for this purpose. It’s essential to adhere to all state vehicle code regulations.
For the most current information and updates, you can contact the Hume Lake Ranger District at 559-338-2251, the Western Divide Ranger District at 559-539-2607, or the Kern River Ranger District at 760-376-3781, during their operational hours on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a brief closure for lunch from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Please note that Sequoia National Forest Ranger Stations and offices will be closed for the holidays on Nov. 23, Dec. 25, 2023, and Jan. 1, 2024.