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Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

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Area Management

The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness is part of the 111 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

General Wilderness Prohibitions

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

In a few areas some exceptions allowing the use of motorized equipment or mechanical transport are described in the special regulations in effect for a specific area. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information.

These general prohibitions have been implemented for all national forest wildernesses in order to implement the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant.

Wilderness-Specific Regulations

Wilderness managers often need to take action to limit the impacts caused by visitor activities in order to protect the natural conditions of wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Managers typically implement 'indirect' types of actions such as information and education measures before selecting more restrictive measures. When regulations are necessary, they are implemented with the specific intent of balancing the need to preserve the character of the wilderness while providing for the use and enjoyment of wilderness.

The following wilderness regulations are in effect for this area. Not all regulations are in effect for every wilderness. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information about the regulations listed.


-- Party size is limited to no more than 8 people.

-- All campfires (other than propane or gas camp-stoves) are prohibited within 300 feet of Lower Geiger Lake and Leigh Lake.

-- From March 1 to December 1, all wildlife carcasses, birds, fish or other animal parts that are within 0.5 mile of any camp must be stored in an approved bear resistant manner during the nighttime hours or when otherwise unattended.


-- Overnight visitors cannot occupy a single location for a period longer than 16 consecutive days. The term "location" means the occupied undeveloped campsite and lands within a five mile radius of the campsite. After leaving, a minimum of seven days is required before any group or person(s) from that group may reoccupy their original location.

-- Camping overnight within 300 feet of Leigh Lake is prohibited.


-- Traveling or engaging in activities with more than 1.5 head of stock per person or more than a total of 8 head of stock is prohibited unless authorized by permit. A person traveling alone is permitted 2 head of stock.

-- All pack or saddle stock feed must be certified weed seed free. Weed seed free products must be certified as being noxious weed seed free by an authorized State of Department of Agriculture official or designated county official; each individual bale or container must be tagged or marked as weed free and reference the written certification.

-- Pack and saddle stock are prohibited on Trail 132 to Leigh Lake, Trail 924 from Upper Wanless Lake Trail 4 to main Wanless Lake, Trail 646 within the St. Paul Lake basin, and the Big Bear Lake basin.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

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