About Golden Trout Wilderness.org

Golden Trout Wilderness.org was formed on November 7th, 2011. The site is not associated with the federal, state, or local government agencies. The site was created to provide free information for planning a trip into a beautiful wilderness spanning over 475 square miles. Whether it is a simple day hike to an expedition, there is a trip ready for you!

About the Golden Trout Wilderness

The Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW) encompasses 475 square miles of pristine lakes, jagged peaks, and lush green meadows.  The Golden Trout Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada, in Tulare County, California. It is located 40 miles (64 km) east of Visalia, California within Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Forest. The Sequoia National Forest manages 173 square miles and the Inyo National Forest manages 302 square miles of the Golden Trout Wilderness. Visitor permits are obtained from ranger stations near wilderness entry points. Fees vary depending on entry point access.

The wilderness was created by the US Congress in 1978 as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The wilderness is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is named for and protects the habitat of California’s state fish, the golden trout. Elevations range from about 3,920 feet to 12,900 feet. Within the wilderness are portions of the Kern Plateau, the Great Western Divide’s southern extension, and the main stem of the Kern River, the South Fork of the Kern and the Little Kern River. The wilderness area is bordered on the northeast and northwest by the high peaks of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Cirque Peak is the high point at 12,900 feet.

On the Sequoia National Forest portion of the GTW, elevations range from 4,700 feet at the Forks of the Kern River to 12,432 feet on Mt. Florence, the highest peak on the Forest.  Vegetation ranges from grey and pinyon pine woodlands at lower elevations; extensive Jeffrey pine forests at mid-elevations; and red fir, lodgepole and foxtail pine at higher elevations.  Portions of the GTW occur above timberline such as Coyote Ridge, Silver Lake, and Bull Frog Lakes areas.  Most of the Little Kern River drainage lies within the Wilderness.  The North and South Forks of the Kern Wild and Scenic rivers bisect this Wilderness.

On the Inyo National Forest portion of the GTW, elevations range from 3,920 feet along the feet of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains near Owens Valley to 12,900 feet on Cirque Peak, the highest point in the GTW. Small portions of the Wilderness are above tree line, which is located near Rocky Basin Lakes and Chicken Spring Lake. Remnant volcanoes are still visible such as Groundhog Cinder Cone or Red Hill. The purest strands of Golden Trout is located on Golden Trout Creek. The larger meadows, such as Big Whitney Meadow or Templeton Meadow, exist on this side of the Wilderness.

Official Documents:

Golden Trout Wilderness 1978 Legal Description

Golden Trout Wilderness is Designated – 1978 PL-95-237

Golden Trout Wilderness Management Plan – Signed in 1982