I'm not sure I would advocate spending an hour or more driving 21 miles on a hair-raising winding mountain road if the only outstanding thing about this place were the fresh homemade pies (berry, pecan, and other flavors), but when you add to that spectacular scenery, superb back-country hiking, wildlife viewing and relaxation and quiet, this is a great way to enjoy the splendors of Sequoia National Park away from the crowds and tour busses. We spent three nights in the spacious Paradise Ridge chalet with our daughters, ages 9 and 13. Our first evening, we were treated to close up viewing of a black bear munching on gooseberries nearby our cabins. He didn't mind us at all, and just went about his business while we got some awesome photographs from a safe distance. This is a family friendly place, with a playground and large hammocks to relax and read a book in, or to accommodate five kids playing a wild game of survival (tip the hammock and see who doesn't fall out). Our daughters made quick friends with children their age from all over the world.
Our comfortable cabin had all the elements needed for a great high Sierra experience, campfire pit, wood pile and axe, outdoor grill and picnic tables. (Note: there is a $45 charge for sheets and towels or you may bring your own.) The hiking in this area is out of this world. We spend one day gawking at Sequoias and following a stream bed, jumping from giant log to log, on the forested Hockett Canyon-Atwill Mills trail, and another in sub-alpine country, on a strenuous 7 mile round trip climb to Eagle Lake. We saw just enough folks on the trails to not feel isolated, but not so many as to miss our chances of seeing deer, grouse, marmots, and even a black bear, who was more afraid of us than we of him.
After a long day's hiking, what could be better than a slice of homemade pie? The only problem: our kids are gluten-free. So (by prior arrangement when we made our reservation), the staff agreed to make a whole gluten free pie for us, if we supplied the crust. We purchased a gluten-free double crust at the Whole Foods in Fresno, and Brianna, one of the staff, worked late into the evening making us a mixed berry pie and making sure it came out as beautiful and delicious as the regular pies. She delivered it to our cabin, warm, just in time for dessert.
Our only negative experience was when the carbon monoxide detector went off in our cabin the last evening. The resort turns off the electricity at night, but there are propane lamps in the cabins. We must have left the lamps on a bit too long with the windows closed. When the carbon monoxide alarm went off, it was a bit disconcerting, and it took some reassuring to get our kids back to sleep with the windows open and the propane lamps turned off. It would have helped to have been given better information on propane safety at check-in, and what to do if the alarm goes off. (But I'm sure glad the detector was there.)
After our stay at Silver City, we drove down the winding road and spend another couple days in the main part of the park. But to be honest, seeing the General Sherman and main park attractions, impressive as they are, were a bit anti-climatic after wandering upon giant Sequoias ourselves on a mountain trail. Up here, off the beaten track, there are no fences, and you can touch the trees all you want to, and climb inside the fire holes.
This is a great way to experience the high Sierras: hike heard and relax in comfort afterwards.
An added bonus or detraction, depending on your perspective, is the fact that internet coverage is available only between noon-10 PM, via wi fi when the electricity is turned on. It meant our kids had to take a break form their Youtube videos and fan fiction groups and actually read books!