Recreation use on the Sierra National Forest spans all seasons. People visit the forest for camping, horseback riding, swimming, picnicking, biking and hiking opportunities. Visitors also enjoy fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, fall-colors, skiing, snowshoeing, and off-highway-vehicle, motorcycle and snowmobile riding.The Sierra National Forest represents experiences through five wilderness areas; two nationally designated wild and scenic rivers; three nationally designated trails, and two national scenic byways.
The Sierra’s proximity to Yosemite, Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks; and the Inyo National Forest with their many trails, high peaks, rivers, deep canyons, wilderness and big trees defines the forest as “United in Breathtaking Tranquility.”
We pride ourselves of the wide variety of natural beauty and recreational opportunities offered to the American public. Begin your adventure today.
The vast majority of the forest’s trails are part of designated wilderness areas where cycling is prohibited. Nonetheless, there are many opportunities for two-wheel enthusiasts on, or near, the Sierra National Forest.
Paved roads that head into the forest are usually very steep but offer scenic-if challenging- hill climbing. Most of the forest serves primarily as a scenic backdrop for cycling and mountain biking in the valleys below.
Summers are hot and dry, so always carry extra water. Winters bring cool temperatures and big snowfalls in the high country.
Camping is one of the most popular recreation activities in the Sierra National Forest. Situated in the Central Sierra Nevada, the Forest has several campgrounds located in a variety of settings. Pick your own spot, (dispersed area camping) is an option available throughout most of the Forest. All fees quoted are per site, per night and are subject to change.
The Sierra National Forest provides a wide variety of fishing opportunities. Angling is available on large rivers, nearly 400 lakes, 11 large reservoirs, and countless streams across the Forest. Forest waters are home to five species of trout, kokanne salmon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and green sunfish among popular angling species.
There a several trailheads and a large number of trails to be found in the Sierra National Forest. Several of these criss-cross the wilderness areas offering the hiker an opportunity to view wildlife and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
Below is a table listing each of trailheads on the Forest. Each link will take you to information about that trailhead and the trails that are associated with it.
The Sierra National Forest provides excellent opportunities for the equestrian trail rider. There are numerous opportunities for people who own their own stock or for those who want to rent horses for a day ride (or longer) backcountry trips. In forest areas, trails are shared with a variety of users such as off-highway vehicles, hikers and mountain bikes. All users need to practice trail courtesy on these multi-user trails.
Hunting and Target Shooting is a popular activity on the Sierra National Forest and in adjacent areas. Before hunting of any type on the Forest, you will need to have the proper state hunting license.
Hunting is a seasonal activity, and the rules are simple: Follow the state laws and regulations pertaining to hunting, including seasons, dates and licensing. Forests and grasslands may place some areas as off limits to hunting. So check in with your local Forest Service ranger to be sure you are following all the rules.
Many people with different interests may be enjoying an area at the same time. Trail and camping courtesy are essential for everyone to have an enjoyable experience. Be a good neighbor and extend the same courtesy and consideration to those around you as you expect from them. If you are using a Off-Highway Vehicle please follow the rules below when using trails:
•Motorcycles Yield to All
•Bicycles Yield to Equestrians and Hikers
•Hikers Yield to Equestrians
The start of the California Gold Rush in 1848 and the sudden influx of miners in search of their fortune spread out across the Sierra Nevada. With so much gold being found in the streams, miners expected that somewhere in the mountains was the “Mother Lode”, the veins of gold in hard rock. This search in the streams and rocks extended all the way south into what is now the Sierra National Forest.
The Sierra National Forest has two Scenic Byways on the Forest, the Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway and the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. The Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway starts in the San Joaquin Valley and follows Highway 168 from the city of Clovis up the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to Kaiser Pass Meadow at approximately 9,000 feet. The 70-mile long byway takes about 4 hours to drive and provides a memorable journey offering access to several resort towns, recreation areas, popular lakes, and impressive views.
Whatever your boating choice, the Sierra National Forest provides numerous opportunities for canoeing, water skiing, sailing, fishing, windsurfing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and house boating. For information on boating regulations make sure to check out the State of California Boating Safety website or for information on reservoir water levels, please visit our Forest Conditions page.
Be aware of the hazards of winter travel. Harsh conditions of wind, cold, snow or whiteout can turn an outing into a tragedy. Knowledge of the area, weather, route and limitations of your body and equipment, plus a little common sense can insure a safe and enjoyable trip.