Sequoia National Forest (near Kings Canyon National Park)


Three rides in the Sequoia National Forest:

  1. Cherry Gap/Hume Lake Loop: A fast and technical 1800 foot ridge descent with terrific views of Kings Canyon on the climb out.
  2. A forested ride through Converse Basin, and a visit to the world's third largest tree. (Can be combined with the Cherry Gap/Hume Lake Loop.)
  3. A flat ride along the southern edge of Kings Canyon starting at Hume Lake Dam. This includes an option with lots of erosion burms perfect for grabbing air.
These directions are from memory, your mileage may vary. A map, a compass, and a sense of adventure will be necessary for the first two rides. The last ride is easy out and back.

Directions to the start (for Cherry Gap)

Take Highway 180 East out of Fresno, drive 60 miles along 180 to the trailhead.

The trailhead is 3.0 miles beyond the Grant Grove Visitor's Center in Kings Canyon National Park, and it is just outside the Park boundaries. The trailhead area is known as Cherry Gap (probably because of the wild cherries that grow there in late summer) and there is space to park cars just off the road. You can recognize Cherry Gap by its open vista unobscured by redwoods. If you've begun heading down a long hill, you've gone too far.

The Cherry Gap/Hume Lake Loop begins on the east side Highway 180; the Converse Basin ride begins on the west.

Ride 1: Cherry Gap/Hume Lake Loop

This ride starts as an easy climb along Forest Service road 13S77 at the Cherry Gap Nordic Ski Trail Loop. This dirt road climbs for about a mile, then reaches the ridge. You'll recognize the ridge when the road continues with a switchback to the right followed by an immediate increase in the difficulty of the grade. You might continue along the road, but the fun descent follows the ridge to the east, so at the large clearing before the switchback head east for a little climb, then get ready for a fast roller coaster descent. (If you follow the forest service road, it will climb a little, then go through a wild but quick descent, then turn into a well maintained dirt road. It's pretty, but tame. This dirt road might be useful for avoiding Highway 180 on the climb out. It's a path yet to be explored.) If you think you're lost, just remember to keep heading east towards Hume lake, often visible while on the ridge.

For the next few miles, you will descend along the ridge heading east among the manzanita bushes and pine trees. It's easy to build up speed as you go through some roller coaster fast 30 or 40 (vertical) foot descents followed by 20 feet climbs. There are also alot of earthen erosion "burms" perpendicular to the trail that make for perfect jump ramps. It's pretty easy to catch air here, but also tricky because most of the burms are on steep grades.

The ground is soft dirt, sometimes powder. There is one steep section, reminiscent of "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride", with deep powder that you will have to put your butt back and do skid control to stay on your bike. Most of this trail is double track, towards the end it becomes narrow.

Near the middle of the descent, the fire road will loop back to the left, and a narrower path will head off to the right. Take the path to the right. This path leaves the ridge and heads towards Hume Lake.

At the bottom of the trail, you will intersect a paved road. This is the road that connects Hume Lake to Highway 180. If you need supplies or want a dip in the lake that you've been headed towards for the last 5 miles, turn right. Otherwise, begin the climb back to the trailhead, 5 miles up the road. The view of Kings Canyon is really outstanding along this road, you can also see part of the ride 3 trail on an opposing ridge. After two miles on this road, turn left on Highway 180, then three miles to the trailhead.

The total elevation change is 1800 feet, from 7000 at Cherry Gap to 5200 at Hume Lake. The altitude makes the climb out relatively challenging. But the road is well maintained, and the views of Kings Canyon are spectacular. See if you can spot Tehipite Dome on the opposite side of the canyon.


If you don't want to climb the whole way on the road, there are several options. This might be advisable during the busy season in the National Park, because the shoulder is narrow and the road steep.

If you want to lengthen the distance, Ride 2 intersects with Highway 180 after a mile or so. Pay attention for a dirt road heading to the right, with a distance sign labeled for the Boole Tree, and Converse Basin.

You might be able to shorten the ride by staying on the Nordic Track Ski Trail loop. This would make a 100% dirt ride, completely avoiding the highway. The map say this will bring you out at Forest Service road 13S76 (or 13S78 - I need to check this). To do this, look for a left turn about half way through the ridge descent. Caveat: I haven't done this entire loop, but since it is one of the routes visible on forest service maps, it should be okay.

Ride 2: Converse Basin

The general route of this ride takes you in a clockwise loop through Converse Basin first passing a landmark known as Chicago Stump then towards the Boole Tree. In fact, you can take this route in either direction, starting at Cherry Gap, or a mile down Highway 180 at the fire road entrance for the Boole Tree. This is only suggested because it's my preference to descend on the dirt and climb on the road.

The Boole Tree is a spur off of the loop and is some nice flat singletrack. Follow the signs. (Update: The "Boole Tree Trail" is now closed to bikes :-(

Follow the directions to Cherry Gap, but start on the west side of the highway. This loop is perhaps 5 miles (a guess).

Ride 3: Hume Lake Dam

Take Highway 180 to the Hume Lake turnoff, past Hume Lake Camps, past Hume Lake beach, then finally to the dam at northeastern side of the lake. The trail is an obvious dirt road that starts right by the dam.

This trail is flat, but the views of Kings Canyon are great. You can ride along here for several miles until the road turns into an animal path and gets too narrow. To complete the ride, turn around and return to the trailhead.

There is one intersection (easily recognizable) along this trail. The flat path goes to the left. To the right are logging or fire access double track dirt roads. If you go exploring here, remember that these roads tend to fan out or go nowhere. Getting lost is pretty difficult, just return in the downhill direction. The interesting thing about these roads is that they are constructed with plenty of erosion burms. With the gentle grade and erosion burms every 100 yards, it is easy to practice getting air without getting tired.

For the really adventurous, at the end of this trail there is a dirt trail that heads down at a steep angle and I believe winds up at Kings Canyon Lodge. Of course, if you take this, be prepared for several thousand feet of climbing on Highway 180.


It's unlikely that you will see any other human on the
Cherry Gap/Hume Lake Loop. The chances of seeing humans are much greater on the other rides. I have encountered deer, bobcats, and bears in the area. You will see mountain bike tracks, if that gives you any comfort.

Most of the trails in the area are old logging roads. This means there are lots of old trails forking off. Most of these go nowhere fast, and are pretty easy to distinguish. The Cherry Gap/Hume Lake Loop doesn't have a large number of forks, but if you get off the main route, try to stick to trails that go in the general direction that you were travelling.

The distances are approximate, someday I might put one of them newfangled tachometers on my bike.

This page was last updated on June 14, 1995, based on infomation gathered in the summer and fall of 1994.

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Brian Warkentine (brianw(at)