The Sierra National Forest seems like one vast campsite. Options range from primitive wilderness camps to developed and often crowded campgrounds with snack bars, flush toilets, bathhouses, and RV hookups. For information and reservations, call the National Recreation Reservation Service toll-free at tel. 877/444-6777, or visit its website at www.reserveusa.com.
The major campgrounds are the Shaver Lake area; the Huntington Lake area (which has seven family campgrounds open from the end of June to Labor Day that must be reserved in advance); the Florence and Edison Lake area (first-come, first-served); the Dinkey Creek area (family and group camping); the Wishon and Courtright area (four campgrounds; first-come, first-served); the Pine Flat Reservoir (in the Sierra foothills, with two first-come, first-served campgrounds); and Upper Kings River, east of Pine Flat Reservoir (family campgrounds; first-come, first-served).
The many streams of the Sierra are home to rainbow, golden, brown, and brook trout. The best freshwater angling is in the Pineridge and Kings River Rangers District. At the lower elevations, Shaver Lake, Bass Lake, and Pine Flat reservoirs are known for their black-bass fishing. Questions about fishing in the national forest can be directed to the California Department of Fish and Game, 1234 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA 93710 (tel. 559/243-4005; www.dfg.ca.gov).
Sixty-five miles northeast of Fresno on Highway 168 in the Sierra National Forest, the Sierra Summit Ski Area offers mildly challenging alpine skiing and marked trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The resort has two triple and three double chairlifts, four surface lifts, and 30 runs (the longest is 2 1/4 miles). The vertical drop is 1,600 feet. Grounds include a lodge, cafeteria, restaurant, and bar, open daily from mid-November until mid-April. For resort information or a ski report, call tel. 559/893-3311 or see www.sierrasummit.com. The Pineridge Ranger Station (tel. 559/855-5360) maintains several marked cross-country trails along Highway 168, from a 1-mile tour for beginners to a 6-mile trail for advanced skiers.
The Upper Kings River, east of Pine Flat Reservoir, offers a 10-mile rafting run through Garnet Dike to Kirch Flat Campground. Rafting season is from late April to mid-July, with the highest waters in late May and early June. To get there, take Belmont Avenue in Fresno east (toward Pine Flat Reservoir) for about 63 miles. For more information about guided rafting trips on the Kings River, call Kings River Expeditions (tel. 800/846-3674 or 559/233-4881; www.kingsriver.com).