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John Muir Wilderness

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General Information

Description - The John Muir Wilderness encompasses approximately 584,000 acres in the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. It extends along the crest of the Sierra Nevada from Mammoth Lakes southeastward for 30 miles, then forks around the boundary of Kings Canyon National Park to Crown Valley and Mt. Whitney. This wilderness area is by far the largest in California.

Elevations range from 4,000 feet to 14,496 feet at Mt. Whitney with many peaks above 12,000 feet. The Wilderness is characterized by deep canyons as well as beautiful meadows among the many lakes and streams. The South and Middle Forks of the San Joaquin River, the North Fork of the Kings river and many creeks which drain into Owens Valley originate in the John Muir.

Stands of Jeffery and Lodgepole pine, incense cedar, and red and white fir can be found on the lower western slopes of the John Muir. Higher up are lodgepole, white bark and western pine, red fir and mountain hemlock. The highest elevations are barren granite.

Attractions - Visitors may choose hiking or horseback as there mode of travel in the wilderness area. A visitors permit is required for all overnight stays and a quota system is in effect from the last Friday in June through mid September as this is a heavily traveled wilderness area. There is a $3.00 reservation fee for each person for the following trail heads: Mono Creek (36), Florence (72), Bear Creek (30), Maxson (75), Devil's/Graveyard (24)

Recreation - Horseback riding, hiking, and backpacking are enjoyed on this wilderness area.

Climate - Weather conditions in the Sierra National Forest vary locally with elevation and exposure. Weather changes more rapidly and severely in the Forest's higher elevations. In general, temperatures in the Sierras drop three degrees with each 1000' of elevation gain.

Precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, much of it comes in the form of snow. Snowpack above 8000' can be 25 fee in the winter. Winter temperatures well below freezing and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season when venturing into the high country, with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.

Location - It extends along the crest of the Sierra Nevada from Mammoth Lakes southeastward for 30 miles, then forks around the boundary of Kings Canyon National Park to Crown Valley and Mt. Whitney. The wilderness area is flanked on the west by the Wishon and Courtright Reservoirs.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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More Information

Additional Information:
King's River Ranger District - The John Muir Wilderness Area is located here as well as parts of the Monarch and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Area.
Pineridge Ranger District - This ranger district, located in the central portion of the forest features three wilderness areas and numerous lakes that offer excellent boating, water skiing, and fishing. There are numerous hiking and OHV trails to provide land recreation.


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