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Granite Chief Wilderness




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General Information

Description - Scenic and varied area with forests, meadows and exposed rock, Granite Chief Wilderness Area is located at the headwaters of the American River. The terrain varies from granite cliffs to glaciated valleys and dissected slopes and there are several major streams. The southern part is forested with mixed conifer, red fir and lodgepole pine at higher elevations, and deciduous and evergreen woodlands further down. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Granite Chief Wilderness Area. Most of the Wilderness Area is lightly used, except for the Five Lakes Basin, which receives heavy use.

Attractions - Granite Chief Wilderness offers opportunities for hiking, backpacking and horseback riding. As in all Wilderness Areas, motorized and mechanized vehicles are prohibited.

Leave No Trace: Use "NO TRACE" camping techniques. "NO TRACE" camping is an attitude that leads to enjoyment of the wilderness without changing or damaging it. Remember, "in the wilderness, you are the visitor."

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

Climate - The Tahoe generally experiences warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snow pack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear. The Tahoe generally experiences warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snow pack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season 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 - Granite Chief Wilderness lies within the Tahoe National Forest, four miles west of Lake Tahoe and just south of Squaw Valley Ski Area. The wilderness encompasses the headwaters of the American River.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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More Information

Additional Information:
American River Ranger District - The Foresthill Ranger District encompasses the southwest portion of the Tahoe National Forest. The North and Middle Fork of the American River lead through the District.
Lake Tahoe Region - Lake Tahoe lies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, straddling the California-Nevada state line. It is one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas in the United States, offering almost endless recreation opportunities.
Truckee Ranger District - The Truckee Ranger District is located in the central eastern region of the Tahoe National Forest. This region offers, hiking, biking, horseback, riding, camping, boating, fishing and OHV riding.

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