The American Legacy of Wilderness
Honoring 50 Years of Preservation, use and Enjoyment
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What is Wilderness?
In 2014, we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Congress defined Wilderness as a resource to be set aside for the American people of present and future populations. Wilderness, in contrast to those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is an area where the earth and its community of life are controlled by natural processes and where man is a visitor who does not remain. There are no permanent roads or structures, motorized and mechanical equipment are not allowed. Access must be on foot or horseback.
Wilderness is primeval nature, a landscape of human restraint, where natural conditions and self-sufficiency prevail. Wilderness is an opportunity for solitude and introspection. It is a place to leave the sights and smells and the electronic distractions of civilization behind, a place to contemplate where one has been, where one is going and to set priorities for one's life.
Golden Trout Wilderness
The Golden Trout Wilderness includes the best of the Kern Plateau just south of Sequoia National Park and north of the Kern River Valley. In contrast to the rugged glaciated terrain of the High Sierra to the north the Kern Plateau is a more gentle wilderness. This Wilderness is the home of the Golden Trout
found in numerous small streams. The streams wend through green grassy meadows strung out like pearls on a necklace. The trout hang out under overhanging stream banks just waiting for a lucky fisherman to tempt them with a juicy fish tidbit.
Trips to visit this wilderness can be anything from an easy half day stroll to a full day hike. A hike like that will whet your appetite to take a backpack of several days to visit the more remote areas, far from any road. Among the many trails that provide access to the Wilderness are the trail in the east starting at Horseshoe Meadow above Lone Pine in the Owens Valley or from the west at the road head north of the old logging town of Johnsondale.
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Photo of Golden Trout Wilderness, courtesy Research Indicates
The Domeland Wilderness is located at the southern end of the Kern Plateau. This land was first protected by the Wilderness Act of 1964 as a 62,695 acre wilderness and was later expanded to 130,081 acres in 1984 to include the delicate transition ecosystems that meet to the east, south, and north of the original wilderness. Though it is considered within the Sierra range, the Domeland Wilderness includes the overlap of several ecosystems to form unique plant and animal communities. The banks of the South
Fork of the Kern River offer important riparian habitats of cottonwoods and meadows which stand in sharp contrast against the characteristic smooth domes and bold granite outcroppings. Domes that range from the size of a cottage to football fields across and spear-like jagged spires can be found in the Domeland.
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Sequoia National Park Wilderness
Spanning over 700,000 acres, the wilderness of Sequoia National Park is second in size among California wilderness areas only to Death Valley, and includes over 800 miles of trail. Many of the Sierra Nevada peaks over 13,000 feet are here. The park is famous for its ancient and towering Sequoia trees. Beyond those magnificent trees, trails stretch across the forested western slopes to the rocky scenic high country above tree line, up to the slopes of Mt Whitney. All of this is in the back yard of Kern County and easily accessible from Bakersfield.
Wilderness areas can be reached from the west side by Hwy 198 and 180. In addition, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through wilderness areas from either the north or the south. From the east there are no entry roads. Access is by trails such as Whitney Portal or Kearsarge Pass.
Photo of Bighorn Sheep in Sequoia National Park Wilderness by Eva Nipp.
Blending the ecosystems of the Mojave Desert and the Sierra, this 88,290 acre wilderness provides visitors both solitude and unique scenery. The area includes the hills, canyons and bajadas of the Scodie Mountains in the southern Sierra. Located in Kern County, the wilderness stretches from Walker Pass to Bird Spring Pass and is approximately 15 miles east of Lake Isabella and 15 miles west of Ridgecrest. Habitat for a variety of migratory birds such as the rough-legged hawk, yellow-headed blackbird, gray-crowned finch and the sage sparrow, the wilderness contrasts desert plants such as Joshua Tree, creosote and cactus within 100 yards of pinyon pine, juniper and canyon oak. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) traverses the length of the wilderness for 17 miles. The other major trail of the Kiavah Wilderness is the Cholla Canyon Trail. Further information on use, maps, nearby peaks and trails and contact agencies can be found at the KiavahWilderness web site.
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Explore a Wilderness Near You
The Kern-Kaweah Chapter of Sierra Club invites you, your friends, and your families to come play an active part in the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by investigating, then exploring a wilderness area near you. Celebrate by taking a trip (for a day or even an overnight) into an area to enjoy the outdoors in its natural state. If you relish such experiences in nature, consider joining the Sierra Club and receiving our national as well as regional publications, which feature diverse outings led by certified, experienced outings leaders who regard safety as a primary concern. Check up on our frequently updated Meetup site for the Kern-Kaweah Chapter-Mineral Group outings at:www.meetup.com/sierracluboutings. Local groups also offer regular conditioning hikes close to home to prepare you for more strenuous activities in the outdoors. They also encourage the development of friendships among people with similar interests and values.
Photo of Ansel Adams Wilderness by Eva Nipp
Other valuable sites:
For local outings:
Forest service wilderness areas:
BLM wilderness areas:
Wilderness in the Sierras: www.sierrawild.gov
For questions about this website, contact Kern-Kaweah Chapter Webmaster, Harold Wood at: email@example.com