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Ishi Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Ishi Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 42,079 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.


The Yahi Yana Indians lived in this region for over 3,000 years before white settlers arrived around 1850 and promptly exterminated all but the handful who escaped into the harsh and remote canyons of what today is known as Ishi Wilderness. Ishi, whose name is the Yahi word for "man," was the last survivor of the tribe. You may find evidence of the Yahi Yana who lived here, historic pieces of all that remains of these people, and you should leave what you find alone.

Carved by wind and water into basaltic outcroppings, caves, and bizarre pillars of lava, Ishi Wilderness is an up-and-down land of east-west ridges within rugged river canyons. Sun-washed south slopes support chaparral (a mixture of brushes). Pines and oaks grow on the north slopes, where more moisture collects. A lush riparian forest lines the rivers. The two creeks, Deer and Mill, represent the few remaining tributaries of the Sacramento River that still support runs of salmon and steelhead trout. The Tehama deer herd, the largest migratory herd in California, winters in this area, sharing the landscape with wild hogs, black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, and rabbits. Several species of raptors nest on the rocky cliffs, and rattlesnakes are commonly seen in the warmer months.

Although many trails rated easy to difficult provide access to this Wilderness--some of which originated as Indian paths--human use is light. Mill Creek Trail follows the creek for 6.5 easy miles, offering magnificent views and many fishing and swimming holes. A small piece of the this wilderness is managed by the BLM Redding Field Office.

Planning to Visit the Ishi Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Ishi Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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