Sequoia National Forest
Freeman Creek Grove - President George H.W. Bush Tree
Handouts: Freeman Creek Grove - President George H.W. Bush Tree (PDF - 228k)
Freeman Creek Grove (4,192 acres), also known as Lloyd Meadow Grove, is the largest unlogged grove outside of a National Park. This grove is the easternmost grove of giant sequoias and is considered to be among the most recently established. The sequoias are mainly south of Freeman Creek with approximately 800 large trees (10 feet in diameter or more). There are several large sequoias to see in this grove. Foremost among these is the President George H.W. Bush Tree. President Bush delivered his presidential proclamation in 1992, setting aside giant sequoia groves on National Forest System lands for protection, preservation and restoration while standing beside a large giant sequoia at the bottom of the grove. You can visit the President George H.W. Bush Tree by taking Forest Road 20S78 east to the trailhead.
Nearby Campgrounds: Quaking Aspen (GPS NAD 83: 36.12083, -118.54722), Lower Peppermint
This is the eastern-most grove of Sequoias. There are a couple of trees with 20-foot diameters, more than 100 trees with 15-foot diameters, and over 800 with 10-foot diameters. Note that the trees are almost all very young - perhaps less than 1,000 years old - and there are no fallen giants. Also there are many immature trees around -they are the ones with the feathery, pointy tops which look like inverted icicles. These are the signs of young giant sequoias - unlike the groves in the north.
The Freeman Creek Trail parallels the creek for a while and then veers to the north to cross a ridge where it commences to switch back down a ravine which is forested with sugar pine and black oaks. When the trail levels out you are again creek-side in the grove and there are several campsites about. Proceeding further down the trail reveals even more campsites.
Unless you have had the time and foresight to position a shuttle on the paved, yellow lined road at Lloyd Meadows (a 35 mile, one way, return trip by road), you should retrace from here. Beyond the campsites the trail is almost level on in to Pyles Camp at Lloyd Meadows.
Mountain bikes are still allowed on all the designated trails in the monument so while this is a short trail (around four miles one direction) it is worth it to go riding amongst these truly unique giants.
How to Get There: It is fairly easy to get to by car throughout the summer by dirt or paved road. You can reach Freeman Creek Grove only by round about routes. To reach the grove by paved road, you must travel from the south end. From the San Joaquin Valley Highway 99 take County Route SM56 east about 20 miles to California Hot Springs. At California Hot Springs, turn north on to SM50 (Parker Pass Road) continuing about 7.5 miles to Johnsondale. From the Kern Valley, take County Route SM99 (Mountain 99) northwest about 20 miles to Johnsondale. At Johnsondale is the junction with Forest Road 22S82 (Lloyd Meadow Road). Take FR22S82 right about 16 miles to the eastern end of Freeman Creek Grove. You'll have passed signs for Pyles Camp about 1 mile before the grove.
Another route from the San Joaquin Valley Highway 99 is on State Highway 190. Take Highway 190 east about 15 miles until the junction with Western Divide Highway (County Route SM107). Quaking Aspen Campground (GPS NAD 83: 36.12083, -118.54722), and the trailhead for FT 33E20 are also at this junction.
Last Modified: July 21, 2010