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South Sierra Wilderness
IUCN Category Ib (Wilderness Area)
Location Tulare County / Inyo County, California
Nearest city Ridgecrest, California USA
Coordinates 36°11′01″N 118°06′03″W / 36.18361°N 118.10083°W / 36.18361; -118.10083Coordinates: 36°11′01″N 118°06′03″W / 36.18361°N 118.10083°W / 36.18361; -118.10083
Area 62,700 acres
Established 1984
Governing body US Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture

The South Sierra Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness protected area located 65 miles northeast of Bakersfield, California.

Created in 1984 with the passage of the California Wilderness Act by the U.S. Congress, it is 62,700 acres[1] in size, is within both the Sequoia and Inyo national forests and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The South Sierra Wilderness is the most southern Forest Service managed section of a continuous chain of wilderness areas protecting the Sierra Nevada crest from Walker Pass to Lake Tahoe. Elevations range from about 6,100 feet (1,900 m) near Kennedy Meadows, up to 12,132 feet (3,698 m) at Olancha Peak.[2] The Wild and Scenic South Fork Kern River bisects the wilderness in a north - south direction on the east side.



Two very different landscapes are within the boundaries; the Kern Plateau occupies the southern portion with low, forested ridges, narrow meadows, and woodlands of Jeffrey pine, red fir and lodgepole pine. The northern portion is more mountainous with Olancha Peak and Round Mountain.

Wildlife includes the large Monache deer herd, the sensitive Sierra Nevada Red Fox, pine martens, cougars, and black bears. Native rare plants observed in the area are Kern ceanothus (Ceanothus pinetorum), an edemic shrub found on slopes in pine and red fir forests at elevations between 5000 and 9000 feet. The Kern ceanothus is not rare enough to be state or federally listed under the Endangered Species Act, but is considered by the California Native Plant Society "uncommon enough that their status should be monitored regularly". [3] Rare wildflowers include Kern Canyon clarkia (Clarkia xantiana ssp. parviflora) and goosefoot yellow violet (Viola pinetorum ssp. grisea), both endemic to California.

Recreational activities

Recreational activities include backpacking, day hiking, fishing, rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing and snowshoeing.


Hiking trails

There are six trailheads leading into the wilderness, and one campground, Kennedy Meadows, providing access to the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Wildrose Trail is nine miles in length and travels through Pinyon pine forests.
The Olancha Pass Trail starts at the Sage Flat Trailhead on the eastside and is six miles in length. The majority of trail users are hunters in autumn and the grazing allotment permittees.


  1. ^ acreage data
  2. ^ "Olancha". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2009-07-02.  
  3. ^ "List 4: A Watch List". The CNPS Ranking System. California Native Plant Society (CNPS). Retrieved 2009-07-09.  


Adkinson, Ron Wild Northern California, The Globe Pequot Press, 2001

External links


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