Living Here

Snow Play (right outside our backdoor)

One of the great things about living in the Valley is the easy accessibility to the mountains. In many other parts of the state, a visit to the mountains involves hours of driving and the necessity of having to stay overnight. Just a little over an hour – up either Highway 198 or Highway180 – will bring you into the beauty of the Sierra snowpack. You can go downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding or just build a memorable snowman. Almost always you get above the fog into the winter sunshine.

Close to Visalia are the snowplay and the 70 miles of cross-country ski trails of Kings and Sequoia National Parks. Up Highway 180 try Grant Grove Village where you can rent skis, snowshoes or saucers. Pick up a map of the local trails and just take off. The trees are marked and there are lots of loops so you don't have to come back the same way. For a special treat, stay overnight and enjoy two days of adventures. The John Muir Lodge has beautiful architectural features, including a beautiful cozy fireplace and sitting room where you can stoke up the heat as much as you like and relax, play games or just enjoy the warmth of the fire. After Dec. 1, the winter rates kick in with weekdays being less expensive. There is a restaurant, gift store and market, as well as a visitor center with interesting displays and information about Kings Canyon. For reservations and rentals, call (559) 335-5500.

Near Grant Grove is Montecito Sequoia Lodge (559-565-3388) located in the national forest. At the elevation of 7,500 ft. (higher than Grant Grove), there is almost always great snow for cross-country skiing here. You can rent your gear here or get a day pass if you have your own equipment. The lodge grooms miles of trails and offers instruction as well. You can take a break in the lodge and get a hot drink, lunch or stay overnight.

If you don't want to pay for a trail pass, try the Big Meadow area just past the Montecito Sequoia turnoff. The lodge grooms these trails as well but it is free.

From the south through the town of Three Rivers, take Highway 198 to Sequoia National Park where there are also miles of cross country trails as well as the Wolverton Bowl for sledding all for the price of the entrance to the park. Ski rentals and lodging are available at the Wuksachi Lodge (559) 565-4070.

**Article borrowed with permission from Discover Magazine/Valley Voice Newspaper.

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