We have our own sign of Spring here in Three Rivers, but it's no relation to Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog. In our neighborhood, it's the annual arrival of the new foals at our vast local nature preserve locals call Skyline, the road that leads to it. We love to ramble here through miles of foot paths with our dogs. This was the scene today. Here's new foal No. 6 that we've counted so far, the earliest we've ever seen the mares give birth — and a sure sign spring is coming early this year.
Officially this sweet spot is the Case Mountain Recreation Area, a gateway to 20,000 acres of federal recreational land maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. Mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, photography and fishing are favorite activities here. Wildflowers are beautiful in spring. A local rancher's private herd of horses pastures here, roaming free so they may pop up by delightful surprise around any turn of your ramble here. As of today, the herd probably numbers about 20 — and counting.
The recreation area includes dozens of miles of mountain bike, foot, and horse trails, picnic tables, and endless opportunities for wildlife observation, photography, and exploration in the foothills of the Sierras. The area is also a preserve for the Case Mountain giant sequoia groves. It's not just walk in the park to reach them, though. It's 10 miles and 6,500 feet of elevation gain to the Case Mountain grove from the Skyline Drive trailhead.
Directions to Skyline:
Heading east on CA-198 towards Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers, turn right (south) onto Skyline Drive. Follow Skyline Drive approximately 1 mile to its end at a small dirt parking lot. Respect private property-- do not block driveways or speed on Skyline drive. Dogs are welcome here, in case you're traveling with your furry friend. And that's not the case up in Sequoia National Park, where dogs are only allowed in the parking lot areas, not on trails.