THREE RIVERS, CALIFORNIA
May 26, 2018 11:00AM
By Kerri Regan
By Kerri Regan and Ronda Alvey
• This small, creative village east of Visalia on Highway 198 is known as “The Gateway to Sequoia National Park.”
• It probably should have been called Five Rivers, as it follows the five forks of the Kaweah River – but because two of the forks are smaller than the others, Three Rivers won out.
• Walt Disney had plans to develop a ski resort at nearby Mineral King, but these plans were dashed when the space was annexed into Sequoia National Park.
• Three Rivers was founded as an intentional community in 1886 by a group of utopian socialists, and today is home to about 2,600 people.
Riverside Respite: What a treasure we discovered in Anne Lang’s Emporium. Relaxing on the back deck, watching the Kaweah River roll by and eating the best Reuben we’ve had in years was a heavenly way to spend an hour. Hummingbird feeders entice the tiny visitors by the dozens. There’s always a fresh pot of soup on the stove and a delicious baked good in the oven. Their fine art corner showcases the work of local artists, including musicians on occasion.
Hey There, Sweets: There’s no shortage of sweet treats in Three Rivers. Antoinette’s Coffee and Goodies offers fresh-baked goodies (you won’t regret a single calorie of Helen’s Morning Glory Muffins) and fresh-brewed coffee - they’re supplied by Visalia’s own Maverick’s Roasting Company. Reimer’s Candy and Gifts has been making delightful confections in a little red gingerbread house for 60 years - their fudge will melt in your mouth.
What a jerky: The Jerky This! gourmet jerky stand offers just about every kind of exotic meaty treat that your mind could conjure up - alligator, antelope, buffalo, ostrich, venison, wild boar, yak - you name it. Munching on some elk jerky while you’re hanging out under the bright blue sky at Kaweah Oaks Campground is living at its finest. The campground is unique, too - it caters to bicyclists, so it’s an ideal spot to pitch your tent while you’re trekking through the Sierras on two wheels.
Veggies, Beer and Art - Oh My: Sage Roots offers a beautiful selection of local, organic food - so easy to grab a basket full of fresh-from-the-earth snacks for your day’s adventure. Three Rivers Brewing Co. next door is a sustainable brewery (spent grains are given to local farmers) and you’ll find a delicious beer along with great company behind the bar. Main Fork Art Station offers lovely handmade gifts by some of the area’s most creative artisans. They’ve been known to team up for “Paints and Pints” events, where guests enjoy an outdoor painting class at Three Rivers Brewing Co.
Things to do in THREE RIVERS:
Take a hike: Naturally, the Three Rivers area has more than its share of hiking opportunities, from the easy Bobcat Point Loop to the challenging High Sierra Trail. High Sierra leads you to Hamilton Lakes, where you’ll find a breathtaking view. As always, make sure to obtain appropriate wilderness permits and know exactly where you’re going before you venture out into the woods - even if you’re a seasoned hiker.
Celebrate Art: Three Rivers is home to numerous creative artists, and their work is celebrated year-round. The South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour and the Redbud Arts and Crafts Festival are annual events that showcase local art. The first Saturday of every month, artists, musicians and dancers offer special activities at venues around town. An annual Dixieland jazz festival is held every April, and the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute hosts music concerts all year.
Howdy Partner: What started as a food truck on the Kaweah River, Ol’ Buckaroo is now a brick and mortar restaurant in the original town saloon and tavern of the 1940s and ‘50s. The building was restored one year ago and is now a full fledged restaurant serving farm to table Americana food with live music once a month.
Ready to Relax?: If all that hiking and whitewater rafting has your muscles screaming “uncle,” you might want to give The Common Element a call. They offer an array of massage and spa treatments, including hot stone massage, and the space couldn’t be more relaxing.
That’s Pretty Slick: The Slick Rock Recreation Area features warm water, plenty of beach space and a wonderful spot to absorb the area’s natural beauty. Grab a sandwich or some salads from A1 Totem Market and Gifts on your way - the hospitable staff will be happy to help you fill your picnic basket.
On the map: THREE RIVERS:
1. Kaweah Whitewater Adventures: Who needs Disneyland? Get your adrenaline rush on the Kaweah River. The snowmelt will carry you right through Three Rivers and into Lake Kaweah, and this adventure company will show you how to maximize your safety and fun.
2: Wild Cave Tours: Spelunking is an exhilarating, unforgettable experience, and descending into the depths of the marble Crystal Cave doesn’t disappoint.
3. Three Rivers Historical Museum: Take a look at some of Three Rivers’ rich history, then step outside and check out the 30-foot-tall, 13-ton statue of Paul Bunyan, which was carved from a single Sequoia tree believed to be more than 2,000 years old. Local artist Carroll Barnes carved it in 1941 and 1942 using a hammer and chisel.
4: Tokopah Falls: This moderate, four-mile round trip trail starts at the campground near Lodgepole, and you’ll be greeted by deer, butterflies and wildflowers along the way. The trail follows the river and gets rockier near the falls, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear.