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Matilija Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Matilija Wilderness (map) in 1992 and it now has a total of 29,207 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Forest Service.


Steep and brushy, overgrown with alder and maple in the canyons with a few stands of conifers in the higher country, the Matilija Wilderness includes the scenic canyons of Matilija Creek, as well as its North Fork. Sixteen miles of the creek have been nominated for Wild and Scenic designation. The creek flows year-round and drains southward, and the elevation climbs steadily and steeply as you hike north. Look for the majestic Matilija poppy, which grows in clumps up to two feet high. You may see black bears, deer, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, hawks, eagles, and California condors. Only one trail exists. It follows about nine miles of the North Fork, gaining about 3,400 feet in elevation as it makes its north-south journey, and leaving the Wilderness at a parking area on Cherry Creek Road. This road is open seasonally, Aug. 1 to Dec. 15. Off-trail, you will probably have an arduous time and see few other humans.

Planning to Visit the Matilija 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 Matilija 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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