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South Sierra Wilderness

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Photograph taken in  the South Sierra Wilderness
Chris Howard


The United States Congress designated the South Sierra Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 60,280 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Forest Service. The South Sierra Wilderness is bordered by the Golden Trout Wilderness to the north.


With Golden Trout Wilderness on its northern boundary and Domeland Wilderness on its southern (except for the road to Kennedy Meadows), South Sierra Wilderness straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada at the southern end of the range. Here you'll find fragile meadowland with a great diversity of flora and fauna situated between forested ridges, rolling hills, and craggy peaks. On the western side (in Sequoia National Forest), the terrain is relatively gentle and easy to travel, forested in fir and pine. The crest and eastern portion (in Inyo National Forest) is far more steep and dissected, making for rugged and strenuous travel; it's an arid landscape, spotted by pinion and juniper. Elevations range from 6,100 feet near Kennedy Meadows to 12,123 feet on Olancha Peak. The Wild and Scenic South Fork of the Kern River and a few perennial streams drain the area, all of which lies in the watershed of the Kern. Much of the Wilderness is dry part of the year. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses about 11 miles of the Wilderness in a north-south direction. About 30 miles of trails suitable for both hiker and horse receive light human use.

Planning to Visit the South Sierra 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 South Sierra 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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