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Fifty miles east of busy Fresno, California, Hume Lake awaits. One of the best-loved scenic lakes within the Sequoia National Forest, little Hume Lake has been welcoming visitors since it was created in 1908. The world's first multi-arched concrete dam was built across Tenmile Creek in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains to form a reservoir for storage of cut logs. Hume Lake also supplied water to what became the world's longest log transport flume for floating lumber from this inaccessible wilderness to Sanger, 73 miles away. The flume was sometimes utilized by adventurous tourists who braved the rapid downhill trip along the flume in specially-designed boats.
The timber being logged was the magnificent sequoia. Even though many thousands of board-feet of lumber were removed from the sequoia stands and the vast forests of old-growth sequoia decimated, the difficulty of transporting the lumber eventually made the entire process unprofitable. The Hume Lake venture was abandoned, the spillways closed and the flume fell to ruins. The dam, soundly built, continues to hold back the 87 acres of water to maintain Hume Lake. In 1935, the US Forest Service purchased the lake and the surrounding lands which were not already privately owned. The Hume Lake Recreation Area eventually became a part of the Sequoia National Forest, while the tiny settlement of Hume, which had grown up near the western end of the lake, still supports a very popular religious-based camp, small school and a few local businesses.
The shoreline, heavily forested with second-growth trees, proves an attractive location for a variety of water-based activities. The church camp wisely decided to open its facilities to the benefit of visitors, providing a cafe, store, snack shop, laundry, disk golf course, paint ball range, climbing wall and vacation rental cabins. The camp also rents canoes, kayaks and a few fishing boats, both for rowing or use with electric motors-no gasoline motors are allowed on the lake. The rentals are available to all visitors unless reserved by one of the church groups who come here for youth camps and retreats. Private cottages in the tiny village of Hume are also available for daily or weekly rental. Visitors can swim at both the church camp and at the Sandy Beach Day Use location along the south shore. The Day Use area provides rest rooms, picnic areas and several walking trails in the nearby woods. A two-and-a-half-mile Loop Trail that circles the lake is popular, both for walking and mountain biking. A fishing pier is provided to allow for shore fishing.
Hume Lake is primarily stocked with trout-a fact that makes the church camp's annual 'fishing retreat' extremely popular. A boat launch ramp is provided on Forest Service land at the east end of the lake, and another fishing pier on the north shore near the campground assures everyone has access to the water. Visitors must obtain the correct Recreation Pass from the Forest Service, and a fishing license is required of anglers.The southern Sandy Beach Day Use Area is extremely popular and often becomes crowded on hot summer weekends. Facilities on the north shore are usually quieter, although some say 'Youth Camp' weeks at the church camp can be rather noisy. Equestrian camping is not available here, but other National Forest campgrounds nearby provide horse camping and horseback riding trails.
The Hume Lake Campground holds 74 campsites, with a few available to RV campers. Water and restrooms are available, but no electricity or showers are provided. There are picnic areas within the campground, and walking trails lead to the lake and to the west end for access to the store or cafe. The campground is popular enough that reservations are recommended. Marked trails throughout the area provide plenty of access to the surrounding forest and an opportunity to view native wildlife and birds. Although the campground is closed in winter, the area itself is open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Trails lead to nearby areas where a few old-growth sequoias and numerous second-growth trees grow. The entrance to the Hume Lake Recreation Area is near the Kings Canyon National Park entrance and a popular stop for all visitors to both Giant Sequoia National Monument and the national park.
No visit to Sequoia National Forest is complete without a visit to some of the basins still holding the largest ancient trees. Forest visitor maps can be obtained from the Ranger Headquarters, as can more detailed maps for hiking and back-country, dispersed camping. The Converse Basin Grove is close to Hume Lake and contains the largest tree on national forest land. The Boole tree is among the largest in the world and was deliberately spared by early loggers due to its impressive size. The oldest stump, verified to be about 3200 years old, is also in the Converse Basin Grove. Interpretive trails through the area lead walkers along a tour of some of the most amazing old trees. The entire area is filled with hiking and biking trails, impressive vistas and an abundance of wildlife.
Hume Lake's proximity to the cities along the Highway 99 corridor means the lake and its environs get many local visitors. Plenty of hotel lodgings exist along Highway 99 for non-campers. And the area surrounding Hume Lake and Sequoia National Forest has plenty of privately-owned guest cottages, resort-style lodgings and amenities geared for tourists, including unusual local artisan crafts, eclectic food choices and a variety of privately-operated attractions to provide for every need. So, plan now for your first visit to Hume Lake.
*The depth of Hume Lake is not available.
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