A Turkey Day Escape at the Oak Flat Fire Lookout in the Sequoias

In Los Angeles, millions of people vacate the city in a yearly migration, creating compelling imagery, representing the trouble with car culture. While we prefer to move about the city by bicycle, we too can’t help but flee its confines by automobile. Yet, in doing so, our attempts are always to get as far away from modern civilization as possible, or at least that’s what I tell myself everytime we load the Land Cruiser up and head out of town.

Sure, I’d rather embark on a bicycle tour during a holiday but when our friend Aimee invited us to the Oak Flat Fire Lookout in the Sequoia National Forest for a Turkey Day celebratory dinner, we couldn’t resist. So, there we were the day before Thanksgiving, escaping LA for the solitude found in its neighboring National Parks and National Forests. Luckily, we were long gone by the time the freeways turned into light shows…

Oak Flat has been featured here on the site before, albeit in passing. You might have missed that post. Last year, Cari and I had at this magical place all to ourselves. At the time, we didn’t bring bikes, yet as soon as I saw the Oak Flat Trail, I was regretting that decision. This round, however, I made sure to pack in my hardtail and riding apparel. While the entire trail, including the climb back up to the lookout tower, is just over 10 miles, it provides ample moments for awe and plenty of jibby lines to keep you engaged.

Densely wooded areas open up to golden hillsides of grass, all while that dancing brown line of dirt boogies along its way. Chasing down a free-spirited trail is one of the best sensations and it’s one that I’m always grateful to encounter, especially knowing at the end of the ride, some of my favorite people were already perched atop of this amazing fire lookout, enjoying the sunset.

We cooked dinner over the fire, impressing ourselves with the outcome, and listened to nature settle in for the night, before packing it up and packing it out in the morning. Cari and I chose the meandering route home, looking for the back-country, Californian, rugged bucolic aesthetic we admire so much. I hope you spent your Thanksgiving surrounded by good people, enjoying good food. Feel free to share your stories in the comments.

  • hans

    speant the night up there by myself about a year ago and it was so damn freezing! and those steep stairs when covered in ice are not the safest after having a couple nips of grandpas cough syrup. can’t wait to go back when i do though. also, “hi” ya’ll

    • Yo dude! See ya soon hopefully!

      • hans

        yeah man! we gotta ride! hmu

  • Gus

    Woah, stunning!

  • This is the best spot

  • Just lovely

  • Do y’all play The Cow Game?

  • Oh man. This looks (& reads) so good. I really like these ‘about cycling but not about the bicycle’ photo pieces. Super nice.

    • Alex Steadman

      Sometimes cycling involves not cycling.

  • Nico

    Such a fun place to spend a night or two. Perfect time of year to enjoy the area. We stayed in the lookout tower and rode bikes for a couple days a few Novembers back. Been looking to get back there sometime… Thanks for the reminder!

  • Hell of the South


  • mp

    Lovely light for the fire tower portraits.