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Hume Lake in Sequoia National Park: Original Purpose and Usage Today

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Hume Lake looking pretty in the sun!

Hume Lake looking pretty in the sun!

A Serendipitous Discovery!

Were it not for the fact that my rental car's gas tank was starting to get a bit low, my traveling companion and I might never have discovered Hume Lake, which is in Sequoia National Park.

Inside Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which adjoin one another, there are not many places to refuel one's vehicle. Of course, one can drive out of the parks to surrounding communities, but this takes time away from sightseeing and doing other things. Thus it was with delight that we not only found a source of gasoline at Hume Lake, but also got to see this dammed-up lake and discover its many uses.

This 87-acre lake had an entirely different purpose at first. The creation of a dam took place in 1908 from Tenmile Creek, which flowed in that area of magnificent and thick sequoia forests. It became a place to store the cut-down sequoia and other harvested trees until they could be transported via lumber flume (utilizing the lake water) to facilitate that passage.

Do behold the king sequoia. Behold! Behold! Seems all I can say.

— John Muir

Logging Operations and Lumber Flume History

Harvesting of lumber was being done by large commercial concerns back in the late 1800s in this location. After cutting down the massive sequoia trees in this area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the logging operators had to have an economical way to move the trees to market.

Since wood floats, getting the tree trunks to a water source is one means of moving massive lumbar logs. The logs move guided by water currents from a harvested site to one in which they can be retrieved and processed into usable lumber boards or even ground up as pulp made into other products like paper.

A lumber flume is a trough-like structure generally built up and elevated above the ground. Water flows through the trough, and with the aid of gravity, moves the floating lumber along. Moving the lumber any other way down the mountainside would have been a much harder job to accomplish.

In this particular case, a flume built by the Kings River Lumber Company in 1890 was in full operation, moving the cut timber down the mountainside to Sanger, California, to be retrieved and utilized. The one built and located amidst these magnificent trees comprising what is now known as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was the longest lumber flume in all of the United States!

Sadly, all of the centuries-old sequoias, which used to be in this part of the park, did not even make good usable wood. Such massive trees, when they came crashing to the ground, often shattered. While not the tallest trees in existence, the girth and massive bulk of the giant sequoias make them the overall largest trees. Can you even imagine the sound that one of them must make when impacting the ground and how the land must shake?

According to information from the Sanger Depot Museum and History of the Flume, along with the Depression of 1892, the combination of things might have played a part in saving more of these sequoias from ultimate destruction since the lumber company went bankrupt.

Old photo of a lumber flume

Old photo of a lumber flume

Lumber Flume From Sequoia National Park to Sanger

Hume Lake Today—An Outdoor Paradise

Fortunately, Hume Lake now offers a great recreational site located in the Sequoia National Forest, operated by the U.S. Forest Service. It has many different campsites that can accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs. For reservations and to find out more park information, you can call 559-335-2232.

Catch a Fish

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For people who like to fish, they might be lucky and catch rainbow, brown, and smallmouth trout as well as green sunfish.

Take a Hike or Ride Your Bike

Hikers and mountain bikers will find much to their satisfaction in enjoyment of this spectacular scenery. There is a trail that surrounds the entire lake.

Swim or Row on the Lake

Swimming and non-motorized boating is allowed on Hume Lake. It is nice to enjoy the beauty of this blue water, surrounded by forested areas and mountains, without the droning sounds of boat engines spoiling the pristine setting.

Camp (But Beware the Bears!)

When camping, be aware that black bears also call this territory home. One must be careful about food storage. Food stored improperly can attract bears.

Hume Lake Christian Camps

Since the mid-1940s, kid's camps, as well as couple's, women's, and men's retreats, have been held at this non-profit several hundred acre privately owned location. This large scale facility operates on a year-round basis.

Naturally, the emphasis is on leading a good life via the Christian faith, and attendees must dress moderately and act accordingly, but that is not to say that they cannot have fun.

Judging from all the YouTube videos, the kids attending the camps have plenty of fun! They can enjoy paddle-boating, canoeing, and swimming in the summer, and ice skating in the winter. Rock climbing to paint-balling, and from zip-lining to every game imaginable, kids will find themselves with no lack of things to keep themselves occupied in this gorgeous and safe setting.

In reading about this camp, if all of the cabins or the hotel rooms are not full, tourists can rent rooms even if not being a participant of a program. In addition to their service station on the grounds, one can also access a post office and even a market to pick up some needed supplies.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our delightful discovery of finding Hume Lake in Sequoia National Park. It has a fascinating history and is a great destination within the park to have some fun and enjoy some recreational activities.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

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