Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest
Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest and Tulare County's Balch Park are currently closed because of significant road damage caused by winter storms.
Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest operates 5 campgrounds with 96 individual campsites and 1 group campsite. There is another Group Campground under construction. All campsites except the group campsite and the ADA compliant site at Frasier Mill are available on a first-come first-served basis. Reservations for the group and ADA compliant campsites can be made by calling the forest at (559) 539-2855. Please see the Mountain Home Base Map for the location of each campground.
Campsites are open from May through October, depending upon snow conditions. There are 5 public campgrounds with campfire rings, tables and bear-resistant food lockers provided. Campgrounds have potable water and pit toilets. Camping at MHDSF requires a camping permit and payment of a fee. Permits and payment information are available at the entrance to each campground. Pets are welcome but must be controlled by the owner at all times. Horses and pack animals are not allowed in campgrounds but may be kept in the public corrals near Shake Camp. Four campsites were recently constructed near the public corrals and are available for equestrian users only. Equestrian campers are required to register and pay for their site at the Shake Camp Campground. Hunting is permitted under applicable State game laws and regulations.
Hedrick Pond Campground
Hedrick Pond Campground has 14 campsites and one additional site (with RV water hookup) for a camp host. The camp host site is not available for public use. The campground is situated around Hedrick Pond, which is stocked with trout in the summer by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The pond is a popular attraction for anglers often resulting in the campground being full nearly every weekend; as well as, a high number of day-users fishing the pond. Few of the campsites are suitable for trailers or RVs.
Frasier Mill Campground
Frasier Mill Campground has 49 campsites and one additional site (with RV water hookup) for a camp host (not available for public use). The campsites are organized into five loops, each with vault toilets and water spigots. One of the campsites is ADA compliant and is available by reservation only. The campground is situated among several small creeks and is well shaded by a grove of large second-growth giant sequoia. Although this is the largest of the five campgrounds, it is not uncommon for it to be full on the weekends in the summer months. Some of the campsites are well suited for RVs and trailers.
Shake Camp Campground
Shake Camp Campground has 15 campsites and one additional site (with RV water hookup) for a camp host (not available for public use). Four of the campsites are located adjacent to public corrals near the main campground and are intended to be used exclusively for equestrian campers. There are three vault toilets in the main campground and two additional vault toilets near the corrals. The campground is immediately adjacent to a major trailhead into the Golden Trout Wilderness, and surrounded by trails on the State Forest. This campground is quite popular with hikers in the summer and hunters in the fall. Few of the campsites are suitable for RVs or trailers.
Hidden Falls Campground
Hidden Falls Campground has eight campsites. Currently, there is no campsite specifically for a camp host. There are two vault toilets and two potable water spigots. Each campsite is hike-in only; no trailers or RVs are allowed. A parking area is available and will accommodate 8 to 16 vehicles. The campground is situated on the banks of the Wishon Fork of the Tule River and provides more of a wilderness-style camping experience. This campground area is very popular with day-users as it provides excellent river access and water play opportunities.
Moses Gulch Campground
Moses Gulch Campground has 10 campsites and one additional site (with RV water hookup) for a camp host (not available for public use). Due to the narrow and winding road to reach the campground, RVs and trailers are prohibited (an exception is made for a camp host). The campground is organized into two loops of five campsites each. Each loop has two vault toilets and at least two potable water spigots. The campground is situated near the Wishon Fork of the Tule River, and several of the campsites in the upper loop have excellent river access. This campground area is becoming increasingly popular for day-users as it provides close access to the Tule River.
Methuselah Group Campground
Methuselah Group Campground can accommodate up to 100 campers (or more with a special use permit). There is no electricity or water at this campground, although plans to provide running water are ongoing (see below). The campground has two vault toilets, three fire rings, an amphitheater, and a barbecue pit. A large parking area can accommodate 50 or more vehicles. The group camp is situated adjacent to a meadow with many hiking trails in and around the camp. The campground is available by reservation only.
Hunting is permitted under applicable State game laws and regulations. There is a permanent closure where hunting, shooting, and trapping is prohibited. The closed area is clearly outlined on the State Forest brochure map that is available at the State Forest Headquarters off Bear Creek Road. It is the visitor’s responsibility to know the boundary of the closure.
The area within the bounds of Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest (MHDSF) is rich in local history dating back to the 1880’s. In 1860, Frank Knowles was known to be trapping in the Upper Tule River country before homesteading in 1864. His homestead included a small cabin and orchard in the Bear Creek drainage where he was raising and selling apples. Knowles’ homestead was located in the southwest corner of the MHDSF which unfortunately was destroyed during the Castle Fire in 2020.
In the 1880’s the Mountain Home area became popular as a destination to beat the summer heat of the San Joaquin Valley. A couple of small “resorts” and camps were constructed at both Mountain Home and Balch Park (then known as Summer Home). Grazing and timbering flourished sporadically during this time. A number of sawmills were built at Mountain Home to process the pine and redwood logs that were harvested from the forest. These mills included the Enterprise, Coburn, Frasier, Elster and Hedrick.
In 1945, fearing that the giant trees would soon vanish from the Mountain Home tract, local organizations pressured the legislature to protect the remaining old-growth redwood trees. The State of California purchased the Mountain Home tract from the Michigan Trust Company for a bargain price. In 1946 the State acquired the land and so began the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest.
Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest is owned and operated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, now commonly referred to as CALFIRE. The Department is charged with maintaining a forest that provides for true multiple-use. Primarily, the forest is to provide public recreation, sustainable timber harvesting, research, protection of wildlife and watershed values, as well as protecting the forest from insects, disease and fire.
The Castle Fire burned through Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest during a high wind event on September 13, 2020. Much of the damage was done within the first 24 hours but fire continued to move through the forest until the first snow in late November. Approximately 2,000 acres (40%) were subjected to intense, stand replacing fire including the recent 282-acre donation from the Kemp Family. It is estimated that 20 million board feet of merchantable timber died from the initial impacts of the fire and another 10 million board feet are expected to die from fire and insect damage within a couple of years. This would be enough wood to build over 1,800 single family homes.
Many old growth giant sequoia (OGGS) stumps and logs, particularly at the historic Enterprise sawmill site, were destroyed. Other notable OGGS losses include the Bonsai Tree, a drastic height reduction of the Genesis Tree, and a significant alteration of the Hob Goblin. Over a dozen collapsed OGGS have been observed and it is assumed there are more that have yet to be discovered. It is estimated that hundreds of the 4,750 OGGS on Mountain Home have been severely damaged and are possibly dead.
Recreational resource damage includes the loss of the “House that Jack Built”, five bathrooms, numerous water systems, and other campground infrastructure. Many popular trails and day use areas have hundreds of fire damaged trees that will need to be removed for visitor safety before being re-opened to recreation. Mountain Home will look much different to the recreating public when it is safe to return.
Despite the significant damage, there were also many successes. CAL FIRE has aggressively managed Mountain Home to be a resilient, healthy forest through removing drought and beetle killed trees, controlling forest density, strategically reducing fuel loads, and introducing prescribed fire. These actions limited fire damage to many campgrounds and saved thousands of OGGS within the heart of Mountain Home.
CAL FIRE resource management staff acted quickly to mitigate hazard trees, prepare for reforestation, protect the road system and limit erosion from winter storms. Straw bale dikes have been installed on watercourses above road crossings. Trees have been felled along roadsides to provide safe access and over approximately 800 acres to reduce soil erosion. In 2021, Approximately 600 acres were prepared for planting. In 2022, 200,000 seedlings, including giant sequoia will be planted.
Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest
P.O. Box 517
Springville, CA 93265