Many California parks, trails closed Memorial Day due to storm damage

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You won’t be able to see the world’s largest tree this Memorial Day weekend — one of a number of California tourist draws, roads, campgrounds and trails that remain off-limits because of heavy winter storm damage.

Recovery efforts are still underway months after the worst of the weather departed, with access to park facilities in the hardest-hit areas limited potentially through the summer.

“Memorial Day weekend is our typical kickoff for summer, when we see our visitation spike for the holiday,” said Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, spokeswoman for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which will be partially closed through June. “It is sad that we don’t have all areas accessible to the public, but there are things to do in the parks. It’s just going to be a smaller area for people to enjoy this holiday.”

Sequoia National Park, a popular getaway for Angelenos, is mostly closed except for the foothills area between the entrance and Hospital Rock, which provides access to lower-elevation campgrounds, trails and waterfalls. Officials warn visitors that continuing snowmelt has caused rivers and streams to rise to levels “not seen in years.”

The park has closed all access to General Sherman, a giant sequoia known as the world’s largest tree. To view some sequoias and snow, park officials recommend visiting Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park, which is home to the world’s second-largest tree, General Grant, though the park’s Cedar Grove is closed to the public for the summer.

Portions of Highway 180 between Grant Grove and Cedar Grove, and through Sequoia National Park, are closed due to severe road damage caused by the storms, according to the National Park Service. Access to the park and giant sequoias, including General Sherman, is estimated to reopen in early June. Access via Highway 198 is expected to open by July 1.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are recovering from a “historic winter season,” with crews continuing to make repairs and clear snow.

“Some of our campgrounds are still under feet of snow,” Kawasaki-Yee said. “Campgrounds that were typically ready by Memorial Day weekend are having to remain closed for a couple more weeks.”

Southern California parks that remain partially closed due to storm damage include Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, as well as Emma Wood and San Buenaventura state beaches in Ventura County.

There are no full park closures in Los Angeles, according to California State Parks spokesperson Douglas Johnson. The campground area and day-use parking lot at Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu are closed, but the beach and surrounding trails are open, he added.

The north entrance to Franklin Canyon Park at Mulholland Drive and Coldwater Canyon Avenue is also closed due to hazardous conditions caused by the storms, according to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. The park can instead be accessed via Beverly Drive.

In the Los Padres National Forest north of Ventura, Highway 33 will remain closed from Matilija Hot Springs Road to Lockwood Valley Road through the summer because of “extensive” winter storm damage, according to the California Department of Transportation.

That will block access to hiking and camping areas in the national forest. Visitors from the Los Angeles area hoping to get to Cuyama Valley, where a spring superbloom was in full effect, will have to drive north on Interstate 5 and west through Maricopa, instead of driving north on Highway 33 past Ojai.

In the Angeles National Forest, Highway 2 from Mt. Wilson Road to the Grassy Hollow Campground will also remain closed due to damage, Caltrans tweeted. Popular sites along the closed route include Mt. Waterman, Cooper Canyon and several mountain campgrounds.

No other roads in Los Angeles are scheduled for closure during Memorial Day weekend, according to a city spokesperson. And the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is “fully open,” spokesperson Ana Cholo said.

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