During the late summer, the fall and early winter months before the rains come again, Lake Kaweah offers some pleasant walking options in the dry lake bed. Part of the original highway route is still intact and you can walk along dirt road trails. Park at the Slick Rock Recreation Area for a $4 a day use fee ($2 for seniors, $15-30 for an annual pass), and walk across the lake bed toward the dam and boat marina for 1-5 miles. Because Lake Kaweah is a flood control lake, the Kaweah River swells with the Sierra snow melt and fills up to become the lake.
Looking back toward Slick Rock, Sequoia National Park and Moro Rock in the background
Photos © Elsah Cort
About Lake Kaweah (via wikipedia.org)
Lake Kaweah is a reservoir near Lemon Cove in Tulare County, California. The lake is formed by Terminus Dam on the Kaweah River. The river originates in the Sierra Nevada mountains and drains about 560 sq mi (1,500 km2) into Lake Kaweah. From Lake Kaweah, the river flows toward the city of Visalia, splitting into the Kaweah River and St. Johns River as it flows west into the Tulare Lakebed. The lake has a capacity of 185,000 acre·ft (228,000,000 m3). A project to raise the lake 21 ft (6.4 m) was completed in 2004. The lake now impounds an additional 42,000 acre·ft (52,000,000 m3) and downstream flood protection to downstream communities and agricultural land has been increased. Because its primary purpose is flood control, Lake Kaweah is maintained at a very low level or empty for most of the year, and generally only fills between May and June. Due to the limited capacity of the reservoir, large spills of floodwater often occur after large rain storms. Water is sometimes released as quickly as possible to maintain flood-storage space in the reservoir. During floods in 1997, the reservoir filled and emptied twice because of this operation regime. Past Lake Kaweah is the small town of Three Rivers, which sits at the main entrance to Sequoia National Park.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
34443 Sierra Drive
Lemon Cove, CA 93244-4270
Phone: (559) 597-2301
contributor: Elsah Cort from Cort Cottage Bed and Breakfast