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The Inyo National Forest and the Sequoia National Forest share the Golden Trout Wilderness. The area was named for the native trout of this area and its subspecies, the Little Kern Golden Trout the California state fish. The wilderness contains varied wildlife and vegetation. It is characterized by extensive forest and meadows. The best time to travel in the wilderness is June through October. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the area. Water is limited in dry periods. Firewood is scarce above 10,000 feet. Stock forage is plentiful but pack in feed before July 1.

The Golden Trout Wilderness is a good area for novice backpackers and stock users. The heaviest use of the wilderness is near Burnt Corral crossing of Little Kern, Little Kern Bridge, and Forks of the Kern, Coyote Lakes, Maggie Lakes, Rattlesnake Trail and Kern Flat Trail. Special DFG fishing rules east of Kern River apply. Visitor permits are required. A quota system for travel in Cottonwood Lakes area is in effect for the last Friday in June through Sept. 15 and for travel over Cottonwood Pass to Sequoia National Park from the last Friday in June through Sept. 15.

TRAILHEAD ELEVATION -4,800 feet at the Forks of the Kern, to 12,432 at Mt. Florence bordering the Mineral King area.
HIGHEST ELEVATION - Cirque Peak, bordering the John Muir Wilderness is 12,900 feet.
TRAIL DIFFICULT - moderate to strenuous. The altitude is high make sure you get acclimated.
SEASON - Summer thunderstorms are common. Check with the Ranger District for current conditions before leaving.

Many mountain streams feed the two main rivers within the Wilderness, the Kern and the South Fork. Wildlife species are deer, bear, numerous varieties of furbearers such as coyotes, raccoon, bobcat, marten, fox, skunk and weasel; rodents and other small mammals; and reptiles that are common in the Central and Southern Sierra. Fish species include the Rainbow, German Brown, Little Kern Golden and Golden Trout, the western sucker and squawfish. There are a wide variety of birds that are also common to the Sierra, including some of the birds of prey that are on the endangered list. The California condor is occasionally sighted in the area.

Hunting and fishing is permitted in accordance with California Fish and Game regulations. Vegetation ranges from digger pine, pinyon pine, oak and chaparral (at lower elevations), to eastside pine, mixed conifer, and true fir (at higher elevations). Portions of the Wilderness are above timberline and support foxtail pine, Lodgepole pine, western white pine or juniper. Geological studies indicate that most of the Wilderness is of granite origin; however, there are several large areas of metamorphic, intrusive and volcanic origin. In the northern portions of the Wilderness, there is evidence of glacial action.

Travel in the Golden Trout Wilderness requires a Wilderness Permit for overnight camping. Hikers and equestrians both enjoy the area. Campfires are prohibited at Rocky Basin Lakes and Chicken Spring Lake. Other areas within the Golden Trout Wilderness permit campfires with a proper campfire permit where no resource damage will be done unless fire danger restrictions are in effect. Use of backpacker stoves instead of campfires is encouraged.

Many streams tend to dry up during the hot summer. Water should be filtered or boiled before use. Be sure you are carrying enough water to get to the next known available water. Afternoon thundershowers are frequent in the summer months and snow may arrive as early as September. Bug repellent and sunscreen are necessary items for the summer hiker. Please help keep the wilderness wild by practicing no trace camping and hiking techniques.

The Inyo National Forest is charged with managing the Golden Trout Wilderness Area for livestock grazing as well as for hiking and other 'multiple uses'. Therefore hikers and domestic livestock may share some of the hiking trails and campsites. Stockmen originally established most present day trails many years ago before the area was designated as the Golden Trout Wilderness. The "old west" culture that developed with livestock grazing represents a major formative element of the American Character. This culture survives today, not as a museum exhibit, but as a vital, active and unique component of the area. It is perpetuated by present day cattlemen as they drive their cattle over historic trails, use pack stock to supply cow camps built of native materials and cook over wood stoves by lantern light. They generally conduct livestock operations as their ancestors did in the 1800's, with some important exceptions. Livestock operations are now controlled by a permit system based on guidelines established in Grazing Allotment Management Plans and Forestland and Resource Management Plans. The rancher pays a fee and cooperates closely with Forest Service Range Managers to insure that grazing meets appropriate multiple use objectives. Cattle are moved often and at any one time will be found in a relatively small part of the Golden Trout Wilderness Area.

Some visitors enjoy the 'old west" flavor provided by the livestock grazing and some are seeking a solitude that makes interaction with domestic livestock undesirable. Visitors who wish to locate areas receiving little or no livestock use may contact their local Forest Service office for assistance.

Mt. Whitney Ranger District (East Side Entry)
P.O. Box 8,
Lone Pine, CA 93545

Sequoia National Forest (West Side Entry)
Tule River Ranger District
32588 Highway 190
Springville, CA 93265


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