Cedar Grove Pack Station tramples through challenges

After years of drought, wildfires and a worldwide pandemic, the Cedar Grove Pack station will close their horseback riding and guided pack trails for the season.

TULARE COUNTY – After 37 years of guiding visitors through the trails of King Canyon National Park, road closures have left the family business uncertain as to when they will reopen their doors.

The Loverin family has run the Cedar Grove Pack Station in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for the past 37 years. The past few years of extreme weather and the pandemic have forced them to shorten their open seasons due to the national park’s closures. Currently, the closure of highway 180 has left the reopening of the pack station unknown.

The Cedar Grove Pack Station opened its doors in 1986 in Kings Canyon National Park. The family passed down the packer lifestyle for years before the founder, Tim Loverin, started the Cedar Grove Pack Station. Every generation since has spent their time packing through the national parks off the Kings River.

Unfortunately, the business has struggled with shorter seasons the last few years with the rise of the pandemic, forest fires and extreme weather. With the road leading up to the pack station closed, this year it is unclear if they will open this summer at all.

“At this point, we’re not sure when because of the Caltrans closure of 180. It sounds like they’re probably going to keep Cedar Grove closed for the whole entire season. And I’m not hearing anything good about anything happening sooner. So it’s not looking great as far as any opening which is devastating.” Lee Loverin said.

Even after the roads open up again, it takes a number of weeks to move livestock and set up the office in the park.

“We need to get the horses and get our facilities up and running. You know, turning water back on and all of the things that we require to live there.” Loverin said.

The family is exploring options to operate out of other local pack stations in the area for the season. This will allow them to continue making money while also keeping their horses in shape this year. Other pack stations in the area have also been postponed by extreme weather. Most pack stations nearby are still waiting for the snowmelt to pass before they open their doors.

“We’re trying to figure out if there’s a way that we can operate out of Horse Corral Pack Station, which is in Sequoia National Forest. Kind of not terribly far as a crow flies from Cedar Grove,” Lee Loverin said. “But that’s going to be a later opening because I talked to a lady earlier, and she thinks there’s probably still more than four feet of snow headed into that location.”

The Loverin family is hopeful that they will continue to pass on the family business to the next generation one day. Lee Loverin spoke about involving her own son in the business one day.

“Yeah, we talk often about professions and you know what he wants to be when he gets older and he acts like there’s no option? No question.” Loverin said.

For more information about the Cedar Grove Pack Station call 559-565-3464 or visit cedargrovepackstation.com

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