North Central Rocky Mountain Forests, Park J: Purcell, Selkirk and Monashee Mountains

World’s greatest alpine rock climbing area, largest sockeye salmon run in North America, and old growth forests

The three mountain ranges to the west of the Continental Divide in British Columbia contain little-known wilderness areas and spectacular scenery. The westernmost range, the Monashee Mountains, transitions into the drier Okanagan region.

Purcell Mountains

Bugaboo Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°47’ W116°48’) is 13,600 ha and considered one of the world’s great alpine rock climbing areas. The glacier-sculpted granite spires are over 3,000 m in elevation. The park also includes the Bugaboo, Vowell, and Malloy glaciers. It is 50 km west of Brisco via gravel road.

James Chabot Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°31’ W116°1’) is a 14-ha small beach park in Invermere providing lakeside recreation on Windermere Lake.

Doctor Creek Trail, Recreation Sites and Trails BC (N50⁰2’ W116⁰10’) begins at a trailhead on the Bull River and continues west to the Lizard Range. The trailhead is east of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and west of Canal Flats.

Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park and Protected Area, British Columbia, is 202,700 ha of pristine mountain terrain between Fairmont Hot Springs and Kootenay Lake. Forests are old growth cedar and hemlock. Access is by trails on the perimeter.  The northernmost point is north of Dutch Creek (N50°21’ W116°13’), the easternmost point is on Skookumchuck Creek (N49°57’ W116°4’), the southernmost point is at Sawtooth Peak (N49°50’ W116°12’), and the westernmost point is on Hamill Creek east of Route 31 (N50°12’ W116°56’). The northern access is from Invermere to Toby Creek (N50°20’ W116°25’), eastern accesses are from Canal Flats to Dutch Creek (N50°15’ W116°11’) or Findlay Creek (N50°10’ W116°11’), southern access is from Kimberley to Dewar Creek (N49°54’ W116°28’), and western accesses are on the east side of Kootenay Lake, accessed from Route 31 at Meadow Creek. These are at Hamill Creek (N50°12’ W116°56’) and Johnson’s Landing-Fry Creek (N50°4’ W116°52’). The latter trail extends 12 km up Fry Creek Canyon to Carney Creek. The Earl Gray Pass Trail is 60 km between Hamill Creek and Toby Creek.  From the southern entrance at Dewars Creek, a trail leads to the Dewars Hot Springs, used by elk, goat, deer, and moose for minerals and nutrients. Rare plants and a rare damselfly are also found in the area.

Thunder Hill Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚10’ W115˚51’) is a small 44-ha preserve on Routes 93/95 west of Canal Flats. The site includes forest and grassland typical of the East Kootenay Trench. This park is at the upper (southern end) of Columbia Lake and is approximately the source of the Columbia River.

Windermere Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°25’ W115°58’) is 200 ha of native grassland on the shoreline used by large populations of ungulates.  It is on Westside Road south of Invermere.

Selkirk Mountains

Arrow Lakes Reservoir, BC Hydro, extends 230 km from Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar (N49°20’ W117°46’) north to Revelstoke (N51°0’ W118°12’). Lakeside recreation areas include Syringa Creek Provincial Park (N49°21’ W117°54’), Fauquier Park (N49°53’ W118°5’), Burton Historic Park (N50°0’ W117°53’), McDonald Creek Provincial Park (N50°8’ W117°49’), Nakusp Park (N50°15’ W117°49’), Eagle Bay Recreation Site (N50°34’ W117°57’), Arrow Lakes Provincial Park-Shelter Bay site (N50°38’ W117°55’), Akolkolex Falls Recreation Site (N50°50’ W118°2’), Blanket Creek Provincial Park (N50°50’ W118°5’), and Begbie Falls Recreation Site (N50°56’ W118°12’).

Canyon Hot Springs, British Columbia (N51˚8’ W117˚51’) is in Albert Canyon between Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Goat Range Provincial Park, British Columbia, is 78,947 ha of old growth forest and alpine meadows in the Selkirk Mountains. The north end is at Gerrard along the Lardeau River on Route 31 (N50°31’ W117°16’) and the south end is at Wilson Creek (N50°8’ W117°21’). The Gerrard area offers the opportunity to see spawning Gerrard rainbow trout, while the Wilson Creek trail leads to a large waterfall. Other scenic areas are Poplar Lake (N50°17’ W117°18’) and Spyglass Valley. To the west of the park is Hamling Lakes Wildlife Management Area.

Goosegrass Creek Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N52°0’ W118°15’), is a 2,500-ha undisturbed watershed with old growth forest. It is located on the south side of Kinbasket Lake, Columbia River arm.

Hamling Lakes Wildlife Management Area (N50°16’ W117°31’) is 30,572 ha in the Selkirk Mountains east of Upper Arrow Lake with old growth forest and alpine meadow habitats. It was established to protect the woodland caribou, grizzly, wolverine, bald eagles and other rare wildlife.

Kinbasket (Mica) Lake, BC Hydro, is formed by Mica Dam (N52°4’ W118°34’) on the Columbia River. It includes a long northwestward arm in the Rocky Mountain Trench in the former valley of the Canoe River.

Lew Creek Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50°32’ W117°27’) is 815 ha, encompassing the entire watershed of a glacier-fed creek and three ecosystems. Lew Creek originates in a cirque below a glacier on Mount Hadow, and flows through western hemlock-redcedar-yew forests before emptying into Trout Lake.

Martha Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51°9’ W118°12’), is 71 ha on Lake Revelstoke. The location is 20 km north of Revelstoke on Route 23. It provides reservoir recreation opportunities.

McDonald Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°8’ W117°49’) is 468 ha on Route 6 adjacent to Arrow Lake on the Columbia River, providing reservoir recreation opportunities.

Lake Revelstoke, BC Hydro, is on the Columbia River north of the town of Revelstoke and extends for 130 km upstream to Mica Dam (N52°4’ W118°34’). Martha Creek Provincial Park (N51°9’ W118°12’) provides lakeside recreation. There is a visitor center at the Revelstoke Dam (N51°3’ W118°12’).

Rosebery Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°2’ W117°24’) is 32 ha with a campground on Wilson Creek near its confluence with Slocan Lake, just off Route 6. It is between Goat Range and Valhalla Provincial Parks and also is in a valley of hot springs.

Summit Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°9’ W117°39’) is 6 ha on Summit Lake on Route 6 southeast of Nakusp. The park is important for western toad migration and breeding. Mountain goats may be seen on the 500-m-high slopes of the nearby Nakusp Range.

Monashee Mountains

Adams Lake Provincial Park is north of the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) at Squilax. The Bush Creek site (N50°59’ W119°44’) is 100 ha on the southwest side of Adams Lake on the Holdings/Adams Lake West Road and provides lakeside recreation opportunities. The Spillman Beaches site (N51°8’ W119°36’) is 170 ha accessed by boat only.  The Poplar Point site (N51°12’ W119°32’) is 32 ha to the north of Spillman Beaches, also accessible only by water on the east side of Adams Lake.

Upper Adams River Provincial Park extends for 65 km from Adams Lake to north of TumTum Lake, protecting old growth floodplain forests and salmon spawning habitat. North of TumTum Lake, the park is known for its abundant lichen flora. The area of the park is 5,730 ha; the south end is at Adams Lake (N51˚24’ W119˚27’) and the north end is north of TumTum Lake (N51˚56’ W119˚6’). Access is by logging roads east from Route 5.

Anstey-Hunakwa Provincial Park (N51°8’ W118°55’), is 6,850 ha on the Anstey Arm of Shuswap Lake, accessible only by boat. The large park includes old growth cedar forests and a trail to Hunakwa Lake. Lakeside recreation opportunities are available at Rendezvous Picnic site (N51°5’ W118°56’), Anstey Arm West (N51°5’ W118°55’), Anstey Beach (N51°8’ W118°54’), Four Mile Creek (N51°5’ W118°54’), and Wright Creek (N51°8’ W119°0’), former Shuswap Lake Provincial Park sites now included in this park.

Arrow Lakes Provincial Park (N50°38’ W117°55’), is 21 ha of beaches and rocky headlands at the Shelter Bay Ferry terminal on Upper Arrow Lake. Route 23 crosses the lake at this point.

Blanket Creek Provincial Park (N50°50’ W118°5’) is 318 ha on Route 23 on Upper Arrow Lake. Near the campground is Sutherland Falls, a 12-m drop on Blanket Creek.

Cinnemousun Narrows Provincial Park (N51˚0’ W119˚0’), is 740 ha at the junction of the four arms of Shushwap Lake. The park is accessible by water only and has walk-in campsites and a hiking trail.

Dunn Peak Protected Area is 19,350 ha between the North Thompson River near Little Fort (N51˚30’ W120˚10’) in the Okanagan dry forests ecoregion and Harper Creek (N51˚29’ W119˚51’) in the North-Central Rockies forest ecoregion. In between is Dunn Peak, a 2,634-m-high matterhorn and the highest peak in the vicinity. Notable features are old growth forests, lakes, tarns, and swamps. Most of the park is wilderness without trails, but the park also includes large islands in the North Thompson River along Route 5.

Eagle River Provincial Park is a riparian corridor along the Trans-Canada Highway between Sicamous and Revelstoke. It is along the Eagle River from near Taft (N50˚56’ W118˚45’) downstream to Malakwa (N50˚58’ W118˚32’).

English Lake Provincial Park (N50˚55’ W118˚20’) is 337 ha south of the Trans-Canada Highway and west of Revelstoke.

Foster Arm Protected Area, British Columbia (N52°17’ W118°35’) is a 1,000-ha area on Kinbasket Lake with interior cedar hemlock forests.

Greenbush Lake Protected Area, British Columbia (N50˚47’ W118˚18’) is 2,800 ha of old growth cedar, hemlock and subalpine fir and protects grizzly bear and mountain caribou habitat. It is reached via the Sugar Lake Road north of Cherryville on Route 6.

Mount Griffin Provincial Park and Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50˚54’ W118˚34’) is 3,000 ha south of the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley.  Access is via the Yard Creek Forest Service Road.  The park protects Caribou and Wap Lakes, while the ecological reserve provides a transect from valley bottom to alpine meadow. Douglas-fir and western hemlock forests predominate at lower elevations, and subalpine fir is at higher elevations.

Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°55’ W119°38’) is 1,000 ha located 5 km north of Squilax on the Squilax-Anglemont Road. The park is known for the largest sockeye salmon run in North America, with millions of fish in the Adams River. The salmon run is in early October.  Peak salmon runs are on a four-year cycle, with 2018 and 2022 being dominant years with the most fish. There are 26 miles of trails, which follow the Adams River and pass rapids and waterfalls.

Harbour-Dudgeon Lakes Provincial Park, British Columbia, (N51°34’ W119°10’), is 375 ha in area, which surrounds a series of lakes on Harbour Creek, a tributary to the Adams River. It is reached by logging roads from Adams Lake. The park includes old growth spruce and cedar-hemlock around Harbour Lake, along with moose and caribou.

Herald Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚47’ W119˚12’), is 80 ha on the Salmon Arm of Shushwap Lake. There are three campgrounds, and a trail leads to Margaret Falls and a canyon upstream. The park is 14 km from Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway).

Kingfisher Creek Provincial Park and Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50˚48’ W118˚47’), is 1,900 ha of subalpine parkland at the transition between the drier Okanagan region and wetter North-Central Rockies forests. It is accessible by foot and is 14 km east of Sicamous.

Momich Lakes Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51˚20’ W119˚22’), is 1,850 ha to the east of the north end of Adams Lake, accessible by gravel logging roads. The park includes the most northerly occurrence of western larch in British Columbia.

Monashee Provincial Park, British Columbia, is 22,722 ha of a wilderness hiking park with old growth subalpine fir, Douglas-fir, cedar, and hemlock forests; alpine meadows, and glacial cirques. A herd of mountain caribou roams the area. The western portion is along the Shuswap River (N50˚31’ W118˚26’), the southern portion is along Bill Fraser Creek (N50˚26’ W118˚14’), and the northeastern portion is along Vigue Creek (N50˚38’ W118˚11’) The highest point is Mount Fosthall (N50˚29’ W118˚16’), and there are other peaks reaching 3,000 m in height. Access is from Cherryville on Route 6, via Sugar Creek Road and Spectrum Creek Road. A noncontiguous portion of the park is at Rainbow Falls on Spectrum Creek (N50˚29’ W118˚27’). From Spectrum Creek trailhead, a trail provides the main access into the park. Sol Mountain Lodge (N50˚27’ W118˚11’) provides lodging near the park on the southeast.

Moonraker Recreation Area, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, British Columbia (N51°15’ W116°59’), includes a trailhead at Cedar Lake Recreation Site and 50 km of trails west of Golden.

Mud Lake Delta Provincial Park, British Columbia (N52˚7’ W119˚9’) is 500 ha of floodplain wetlands east of Blue River off of State Route 5. The site is accessible by canoe via the North Thompson and Mud Rivers.

North Fork Wild Park, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, British Columbia (N51°0’ W118°42’) is on Avoca Road off of the Trans-Canada Highway north of Craigellachie and west of Revelstoke. The 51-acre preserve features a network of trails through old growth cedar and hemlock in the North Fork Perry River canyon, which is fed by glacial meltwaters.

Pukeashun Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51˚12’ W119˚15’), is 1,800 ha of alpine and subalpine areas, wetlands, tundra, and a high elevation pass, located 42 km north of Scotch Creek and Sushwap Lake.

Scotch Creek Hlina Trail, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, BC (N50°57’ W119°25’), features a trail to views of Shushwap Lake to the south. It is reached from the town of Scotch Creek on the north shore of Shuswap Lake.

Upper Seymour River Provincial Park, British Columbia, includes the headwaters of the Seymour River (N51°42’ W118°58’) and extends downstream to 40 km north of the town of Seymour Arm (N51°25’ W118°54’). The park includes glaciers, tundra, old growth interior western cedar and hemlock forests, and subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce forests. The park is reached by gravel road from Seymour Arm.  The access road passes a short trail to 40-foot Seymour River Falls (N51°17’ W118°54’).

Silver Beach Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51°14’ W118°58’), is on the Seymour Arm of Shuswap Lake. The 130-ha park includes camping areas and the remains of a historic gold rush town. It is reached by an 80-km drive by turning off the Trans-Canada Highway at Squilax.

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°54’ W119°26’), is 150 ha and consists of a campground and beach providing lakeside recreation. Copper Island (N50°55’ W119°24’) is also included in the park. The park is accessible by road from Squilax on Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway).

An additional 900 ha of park areas are along the four arms of Shuswap Lake. On the east-west trending main arm are the St. Ives (N50˚59’ W119˚6’) and Horseshoe Bay (N50˚59’ W119˚7’) sites, both on the north shore. On the southwest-trending Salmon Arm are the Herald Provincial Park, described separately, and the Aline Hill (N50°57’ W119°2’), Tillis Beach (N50°55’ W119°5’), Hermit Bay (N50°54’ W119°5’), Paradise Point (N50°48’ W119°10’), Hungry Cove (N50°52’ W119°3’), Marble Point (N50°55’ W119°2’), and Swall  (N50°58’ W118°59’) sites. Marble Point features marble outcrops and a trail.

On the northeast-trending Anstey Arm are the Twin Bays (N51°3’ W118°58’), Anstey View (N51°1’ W119°0’), and Roberts Bay (N51°2’ W118°57’) sites. On the north trending Seymour Arm are the Silver Beach Provincial Park, described separately, and the Albas (N51°12’ W119°0’), Two Mile Creek (N51°10’ W119°2’),  Encounter Point (N51°8’ W119°2’), Woods Landing (N51°4’ W119°3’), Woods Landing South (N51°3’ W119°4’), Nielsen Beach (N51°1’ W119°2’), Cottonwood Beach (N51°5’ W119°1’), Beach Bay (N51°10’ W119°0’), Bughouse Bay (N51°14’ W118°55’), and Fowler Point (N51°14’ W118°59’) sites. The Albas site has trails to waterfalls along Celesta Creek. On nearby Mara Lake is the Mara Point site (N50˚48’ W118˚59’).

Upper Shuswap Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50˚40’ W118˚21’) is 70 ha of old growth western red cedar along the Shuswap River about 50 km north of Cherryville, via Sugar Lake Road.

Victor Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚57’ W118˚24’) is 15 ha on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Revelstoke; however, no public access or facilities are constructed.

Wap Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚44’ W118˚35’), is at the upper end of Mabel Lake in the transition between the Okanagan and North-Central Rockies ecoregions.

White Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚54’ W119˚14’), is 266 ha on the shoreline of White Lake, reached from Balmoral on the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1). The lake is known as a rainbow trout fishing area. The park provides habitat for the western painted turtle. Rare plants are found in calcareous clay wetlands at the upper end of the lake.

Wild Rose Bay Park, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, BC (N50°58’ W119°6’), is on the south shore of Shuswap Lake and features a trail to a scenic shoreline view of the lake.

Yard Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚54’ W118˚49’) is a 175-ha camping and hiking park on the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) east of Sicamous. The Eagle River Nature Trail Network is on the north side of the highway, and the campground is on the south. The cedar and hemlock forests are noted for the presence of American dipper along the Eagle River. The park also provides spawning for the most westerly natural population of the westslope cutthroat trout, and spawning for salmon.

 

North Central Rockies Forests, Part I: Continental Divide Ranges

Mount Assiniboine, Hamber, and Mount Robson Provincial Parks are described under World Heritage Sites. Parks are grouped according to the mountain range where they are located. The easternmost areas along the Alberta-British Columbia boundary are in the Continental Divide ranges. Sites in the Rocky Mountain Trench area also included in this area. Between the Columbia headwaters and Kootenay Lake-Duncan River trench are the Purcell Mountains. Between Kootenay Lake and Columbia River are the Selkirk Mountains, and west of the Columbia are the Monashee Mountains. Parks between the North Thompson River and the Fraser River are in the Cariboo Mountains

1. Sites of the Rocky Mountain Front (Alberta) south of Banff

Beehive Natural Area, Alberta (south end N50°0′ W114°38′, north end N50°7′ W114°43′), is 16,640 acres of alpine tundra, cliffs, and old growth spruce. The Oldman River is the north and eastern boundary.

Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park is 12,720 ha in the transition zone between the North Central Rockies forests and Alberta-British Columbia Foothills forests. The park surrounds the Sheep River Provincial Park, which maintains the trailheads of the Sheep River trails system and Sandy McNab trails system. The easternmost point is on the Sheep River at Long Prairie Creek (N50°38′ W114°28′), the southernmost point is near Junction Mountain (N50°33′ W114°41′), the westernmost point is at Bluerock Mountain (N50°41′ W114°50′), and the northernmost point is on Death Valley Creek (N50°42′ W114°33′). Major park trails are the Bluerock Creek Trail, Gorge Creek Trail, Mount McNabb Trail, Price Camp trail, and Death Valley Trail.

Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park extends from the Oldman River in the south (N49°51′ W114°21′) to Chaffen Ridge in the north (N50°5′ W114°19′). Whaleback Ridge is the eastern boundary. The montane and subalpine ranges provide elk range. There are OHV trails crossing the area.

Bow Valley Provincial Park includes campgrounds, picnic areas and hiking trails along the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1), Route 1A, and Route 40, all east of Canmore. Areas along Route 1 include, from west to east, Bow River Campground (N51°4′ W115°19′), Three Sisters, Lac Des Arcs, Whitefish, Middle Lake, and Willow Rock Campground (N51°5′ W115°4′). Along Route 1A, areas from west to east are Old Camp (N51°4′ W115°17′), Gap Lake (N51°3′ W115°14′), and Grotto Mountain (N51°4′ W115°12′). Areas along Route 40 include, from south to north, Mount Lorette Ponds (N50°58′ W115°7′), Barrier Lake and Dam (N51° 2′ W115°3′), and Canoe Meadows (N51°3′ W115°1′). The Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre is also along Route 40.

Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park includes four separate areas with a total area of 37,370 ha, three to the north of the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1), and one to the south. The park includes lands in the Alberta Mountain forests and North-Central Rockies forests ecoregions. The south unit includes Mount Butler (N50°55′ W115°15′) in the south, Mount Rundle (N51°8′ W115°27′) in the northwest, and Jewell Pass (N51°3′ W115°6′) in the northeast. It is bordered by Banff National Park and Spray Valley Provincial Park on the west, Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area, Valley Provincial Park, and Bow Valley Provincial Park on the east, and Bow Valley Provincial Park and Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park on the north. Trails include Prairie View, Jewell Pass, Heart Mountain, Skogan Pass, and Mount Allen. Other notable features in the North-Central Rockies forests portion include Heart Creek Trailhead (N51°3′ W115°9′), Wind Valley trailhead and Spray Falls (N51°2′ W115°15′), and Quaite Valley (N51°3′ W115°7′). The northeastern unit consists of the former Yamnuska Natural Area (N51°6′ W115°7′) including Mount Laurie, and is on Route 1A. The north-central unit is the Bow Valley area along Route 1 (N51°3′ W115°17′), and the northwestern unit (N51°8′ W115°20′) is to the north of Canmore centered on Mount Lady McDonald. It borders Banff National Park and Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park.

Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park is 480 ha in the town of Canmore on the Bow River at the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The main ski trails and summer mountain biking trails are at the visitor center site (N51°5′ W115°23′). An additional park site with hiking trails is at Grassi Lake (N51°5′ W115°24′). There are five small tracts along the Bow River extending from Canmore downstream to Route 1 (N51°4′ W115°20′) which are also included in the park.

Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park is 79,998 ha of diverse Rocky Mountain landscapes south of Kananaskis along the Kananaskis River and in the Highwood Valley. The peaks of the Fisher and Opal Ranges dominate the northern portion of the park, which is mostly trail-less. The Elk, Highwood and Misty Ranges are in the southern portions of the park. The southernmost point is at the Lineham Provincial Recreation Area (N50°27′ W114°46′) on Route 40 and the northernmost point is at Barrier Lake (N51°1′ W115°4′), also on Route 40. The park adjoins Bow Valley Provincial Park, Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area, Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park, Spray Valley Provincial Park, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park, Lantern Creek Provincial Recreation Area, and Lineham Provincial Recreation Area. Lantern Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°29′ W114°48′) on Route 40 provides a trailhead for Picklejar Lakes in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park. Mist Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°31′ W114°50′) on Route 40 is the trailhead for access to the Sheep River watershed and trails network. Other trailheads are at Junction Creek on the Sheep River in Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park (N50°36′ W114°44′) on Route 546, Elbow Pass (N50°38′ W115°1′) on Route 40 in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, which provides access to Tombstone backcountry campground, and Little Elbow Provincial Recreation Area (N50°48′ W114°51′) on Route 66, which provides access to Mount Romulus and Tombstone backcountry campgrounds. In the northern portion of the park, the Baldy Pass Trail (N50°59′ W115°1′) climbs from the Kananaskis Valley at Wasootch Creek.

Elbow Valley Provincial Park includes 10 sites along Route 66 west of Calgary in the Rocky Mountain front. Five sites are in the North-Central Rockies forests and five are in Alberta-British Columbia Foothills forests. The visitor center for the park is at Gooseberry.

  • Cobble Flats Provincial Recreation Area (N50°49′ W114°50′) is 91 ha on Route 66 adjoining the Elbow River and Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park.
  • Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area (N50°52′ W114°47′) is 96 ha on Route 66 and the Elbow River. It is a trailhead for the Powderface Creek and Prairie Creek trails in the Elbow Valley trail system.
  • Little Elbow Provincial Recreation Area (N50°48′ W114°51′) is 215 ha at the terminus of Route 66 and at the confluence of the Elbow and Little Elbow Rivers. It serves as a campground and trailhead for Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park, Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park (Forget-Me-Not Mountain) and other trails in the Elbow Valley trail system.
  • Ings’ Mine Provincial Recreation Area (N50°54′ W114°48′) is 27 ha on Canyon Creek near Prairie Mountain and provides access to the Elbow Valley trail system.
  • Moose Mountain Trailhead Provincial Recreation Area (N50°54′ W114°47′) is 15 ha providing a trailhead for the 7-km Moose Mountain trail within the Elbow Valley trail system.

Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area (N50°56′ W115°8′) is a 2,570-ha developed park in the Kananaskis River Valley along Route 40. Included in the park are Mount Kidd and Mount Allan. The park is bordered on the west and north by Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park and on the south and southwest by Spray Valley Provincial Park. There are hotels, campgrounds, a ski area, and golf course, along with 60 km of bicycle and hiking trails.

Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park is 62,775 ha in 12 units along the Rocky Mountain front, nine of which are in the North Central Rockies forests ecoregion. The remaining three units are in the Alberta Mountain forests ecoregion. The park is known for blockfields, large, sheet-like expanses of weathered blocks covering bedrock on mountain plateaus and ridges.

  • The westernmost unit stretches along the High Rock and Elk Range at the British Columbia border, between the Oldman River (N50°7′ W114°43′) and Mount Odlum (N50°29′ W114°55′). It includes the trail over Fording River Pass into British Columbia and a trail to Carnarvan Lake accessible from Cat Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°25′ W114°43′) on Route 40.
  • Unit south of Mount Livingstone Provincial Park (N50°7′ W114°23′)
  • Unit north of Mount Livingstone Provincial Park surrounding Windy Peak (N50°10′ W114°23′)
  • The unit (N50°19′ W114°34′) surrounding Cataract Creek between Route 940 and the confluence with the Highwood River. A trail leads to Cataract Falls.
  • East of Route 40 and north of Route 541 at Eyrie Gap, a unit includes the southern Highwood Range, Patterson’s Peak, Pyriform Mountain, Mount Head, and Holy Cross Mountain (N50°28′ W114°40′). It adjoins the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park on the north.
  • The unit including Junction Mountain (N50°33′ W114°39′) is east of Elbow-Sheep Provincial Park and adjoins Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park on its north edge.
  • Unit east of Big Elbow River (N50°46′ W114°48′) adjoins Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park and Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park on its south edge. A trail leads to Forget-Me-Not Ridge, with the deepest known caves in Alberta. Access is from the east at the end of Route 66. The Big Elbow Provincial Recreation Area (N50°43′ W114°52′) is in the southern portion of this section of the park and the Big Elbow Trail continues to Tombstone campground in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park.
  • Unit south of Little Elbow River (N50°45′ W114°54′), including Mount Glasgow and surrounded by Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial park on three sides to west.
  • Unit in east Fisher Range and Canyon Creek area (N50°53′ W114°57′); adjoins Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park on its west side.

Ghost/Waiparous Provincial Recreation Area group includes eight sites north of Ghost Lake along Route 40. The sites are in the North Central Rockies forest and Alberta-British Columbia Foothills forest ecoregions. There are two sites in the North Central Rockies forest ecoregion.

  • Ghost Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area (N51°13′ W114°43′) is 24 ha on Route 1A at the Ghost River crossing. It provides lakeside camping and day-use reservoir activities.
  • South Ghost Provincial Recreation Area (N51°19′ W114°57′) is a 7-ha day-use site providing access to off-road vehicle and snowmobile trails.

Highwood Provincial Recreation Area Group consists of 13 sites along Routes 40, 541, and 940 between Cataract Creek and Mist Creek. Most sites offer camping, picnicking, and hiking, with equestrian uses also at selected sites. One site (Greenford) is described in the Canadian Aspen Forests and Parklands ecoregion.

  • Cat Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°25′ W114°43′) is on Route 40 north of Highwood Junction and offers a trail to a waterfall to the east or Carnarvan Lake in the Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park to the west.
  • Cataract Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°17′ W114°35′) is 53 ha offering a trailhead for Cataract Falls in the Tom Getty Wildland Provincial Park and for Mount Burke south of the park. It is off Route 941 at the Cataract Creek crossing.
  • Etherington Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°20′ W114°38′) includes a trailhead for travel to points west. It is on Route 94 south of Highwood Junction.
  • Fitzsimmons Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°23′ W114°41′) is 2 ha on Route 40 north of Highwood Junction along the Highwood River.
  • Highwood Provincial Recreation Area (N50°24′ W114°32′) is 30 ha on Route 541 east of Highwood Junction, on the Highwood River.
  • Highwood Junction Provincial Recreation Area (N50°23′ W114°39′) is 6 ha at the junction of Routes 40, 940, and 541 on the Highwood River.
  • Lantern Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°29′ W114°48′) is on Route 40 and the Highwood River and provides a trailhead for Picklejar Lakes in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park.
  • Lineham Provincial Recreation Area (N50°27′ W114°46′) is on Route 40 and the Highwood River at the southernmost extension of Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park.
  • Mist Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°31′ W114°50′) is on Route 40 and the Highwood River adjacent to Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park. A trail along Mist Creek provides access to the Sheep River watershed and trails network.
  • Picklejar Provincial Recreation Area (N50°31′ W114°49′) is 8 ha on Route 40 and Picklejar Creek north of Highwood Junction.
  • Sentinel Provincial Recreation Area (N50°23′ W114°35′) is 15 ha and the trailhead for Grass Pass trail, an area with extensive bunchgrass meadows north of Route 541.
  • Strawberry Provincial Recreation Area (N50°24′ W114°42′) is 46 ha on Route 40 north of Highwood Junction on the Highwood River.
  • Trout Pond Provincial Recreation Area (N50°30′ W114°49′) is 2 ha adjacent to Route 40 and the Highwood River north of Highwood Junction.

Honeymoon Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N50°2′ W114°33′) is an 18-acre equestrian campground on the Oldman River.

Indian Graves Provincial Recreation Area (N50°14′ W114°22′) is on Willow Creek at Route 532 west of Route 22 at Chain Lakes Reservoir.

Jumpingpound Provincial Recreation Area group is a collection of nine sites along Route 68 east of the Kananaskis Valley. There are four sites in the North-Central Rockies forest ecoregion.

  • Old Baldy Pass Trail Provincial Recreation Area consists of a 28-ha right-of-way for Old Baldy Pass Trail, which begins east of Barrier Dam in Bow Valley Provincial Park (N51°2′ W115°1′) and ends at Old Baldy Pass (N50°59′ W115°2′). The trail continues west from Old Baldy Pass to Route 40 at Porcupine Recreation Area (N50°59′ W115°4′), crossing the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park and providing a 20-km circuit.
  • Lusk Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N51°2′ W115°1′) is a 14-ha recreation site and trailhead. The Kananaskis Integrated Forest Interpretive Trail and Lusk Pass trail begin here.
  • Sibbald Meadows Pond Provincial Recreation Area (N51°3′ W114°57′) is a 10-ha day-use area on Route 68.
  • Stoney Creek Provincial Recreation Area (N51°2′ W115°1′) is a 13-ha campground and trailhead on Route 68 just east of Route 40.

Livingstone Falls Provincial Recreation Area (N50°6′ W114°26′) is a scenic area on the Livingstone River in southern Alberta.

Mount Livingstone Natural Area (N50°8′ W114°24′) is an unusual 535-ha high elevation grassland located south of Calgary and west of Route 22.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is 50,142 ha along Routes 40 and 742 south of Banff National Park. The park is located in both the Alberta Mountain forests and North-Central Rockies forests ecoregions. There are 23 glaciers and numerous U-shaped valleys. Upper Kananaskis Lake (N50°37′ W115°7′) and Lower Kananaskis Lake (N50°41′ W115°8′), used for hydroelectric purposes, are prominent features. The park is bordered by Elk Lake Provincial Park and Height of the Rockies Provincial Parks of British Columbia on the south, Banff National Park on the west, Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park on the east, and Spray Valley Provincial Park on the north. Features of the park in the North Central Rockies forests are a visitor centre on the Kananaskis Lakes Road (N50°40′ W115°7′), Highwood Pass and Ptarmigan Cirque (N50°36,W114°59′), Elbow Lake (N50°38′ W115°0′), Kananaskis Canyon (N50°42′ W115°7′), and Black Prince Cirque (N50°42′ W115°13′). Above Ptarmigan Cirque, Mount Rae is noted for its abundance of horn coral fossils of Mississippian age.

Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve (N50°13′ W114°32′) is 2,325 ha in the Livingstone Range south of Calgary, featuring a flat plateau with unique ice cave crystals and other phenomena. The reserve is known for blockfields, large, sheet-like expanses of weathered blocks covering bedrock on mountain plateaus and ridges.

Sheep River Provincial Park consists of 6,192 ha along the Sheep River in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Access is from Route 546 west from Turner Valley. The main section of the park provides bighorn sheep habitat along the river gorge. Several outlying sections provide recreational campgrounds and trailheads for the Sheep Valley Trail system. The park is surrounded on all sides by the Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park. Major sites in the North-Central Rockies forest portion are the Junction Creek Trailhead (N50°36′ W114°44′), Sheep River Falls (N50°37′ W114°42′), and Threepoint Backcountry campsite (N50°42′ W114°47′).

Spray Valley Provincial Park is 27,472 ha on Route 742 south of Canmore and Route 40 south of Kananaskis Village. The park is located in both the Alberta Mountain forests and North-Central Rockies forests ecoregions. The Spray Lakes Reservoir, a hydroelectric development, is included in the park. It is bordered by the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park on the south, Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park on the east, Evan Thomas Provincial Recreation Area and Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park on the north, and Banff National Park on the west. Features in the Alberta Mountain forests ecoregion include Goat Creek on Route 742 (N51°4′ W115°25′), Spray Lakes Reservoir (N51°0′ W115°22′), and Ribbon Lake (N50°53′ W115°15′).

Wildcat Island Natural Area (N51°13′ W114°38′) is an 8-ha island in the Bow River downstream from Ghost Reservoir. It is known as a bird-watching site for cliff swallows and fish-eating birds.

2. Sites of the Continental Divide Ranges in British Columbia (outside of the Rocky Mountain parks world heritage site).

Cummins Lakes Provincial Park is 21,700 ha and includes the Cummins River from the Clemenceau Icefields of Jasper National Park (N52°10′ W117°59′) downstream to Kinbasket Lake (N52°3′ W118°13′). Wildlife includes grizzly bear and caribou. It is a park for wilderness mountaineering, with two glacial lakes and three waterfalls.

East Side Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area (N50°14′ W115°49′) is 6,900 ha, providing winter range for ungulates and habitat for grizzly bear and waterfowl. The area stretches from Canal Flats (the source of the Columbia River) in the south to Fairmont Hot Springs in the north.

Columbia Lake Ecological Reserve (N50°12′ W115°49′) is a 32-ha tract designated to protect limestone-loving plants found in wet seeps and springs. These habitats are unique ones for the Columbia Valley. It also has interior Douglas-fir forests. The site is surrounded by the East Side Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Mount Sabine Ecological Reserve (N50°11′ W115°48′) is an 8-ha site protecting a representative montane spruce forest north of Canal Flats. It is surrounded by the East Side Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Columbia Lake Provincial Park (N50°18′ W115°51′), is 257 ha and bordered by the East Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area on the east and west. It provides lakeside recreation across from the Riverside Gold Resort and south of Fairmont Hot Springs.

Cranberry Marsh/Starrett Wildlife Management Area (N52°49′ W119°15′) is 319 ha west of Route 5, south of Valemount in the Rocky Mountain trench. The site is noted as a staging area for swans and geese and is also used by the American bittern.

Dry Gulch Provincial Park (N50°35′ W116°2′), is a 29-ha campground park adjacent to Kootenay National Park south of Radium Hot Springs on Routes 93-95.

Elk Lakes Provincial Park is 17,240 ha reached by driving 100 km north from Sparwood (Route 3) on the Elk River Road. The north extent of the park is Elk Pass (N50°35′ W115°4′) and the south end is near Wolverine Lake (N50°22′ W115°4′). Features in the north end accessed by trail are Upper Elk Lake (N50°33′ W115°7′) and in the south end Abruzzi Lake (N50°27′ W115°5′). The Alpine Club of Canada operates a lodge in the park. Vegetation is alpine vegetation as well as alpine fir, Engelmann spruce, and lodgepole pine at lower elevations. The park is bordered by Peter Lougheed Provincial Park of Alberta on the north and Height of the Rockies Provincial Park on the west.

Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park (N52°56′ W119°16′) is 1,930 ha and a memorial to a bone cancer victim who publicized the need to fund cancer research. A trailhead to reach the mountain is on Route 5 north of Valemont.

Burges James Gadsden Provincial Park is described under the Columbia Wetlands Ramsar site.

Height of the Rockies Provincial Park is 54,170 ha of wilderness used for hiking and maintained for grizzly habitat. It adjoins Banff National Park on the north and Elk Lakes Provincial Park on the east. Access is from the Elk River on the east and Palliser River and White Rivers on the east. Trailheads for the park are located along the roads along these rivers. The north end is at Mount Sir Douglas (N50°43′ W115°20′), the west end is at Ralph Lake (N50°39′ W115°29′), the south end is south of Forsyth Creek (N50°14′ W115°5′), and the east end is at Mount Bleasdell (N50°21′ W114°57′).

Holliday Creek Arch Protected Area (N53°13′ W119°52′), is 395 ha surrounding an 80-m-wide and 18-m-high natural stone arch. Mountain goats are often seen. The site is accessible via an 8-km trail from Route 16 between Dunster and McBride.

Kakwa Provincial Park is 170,890 ha in size, at the junction of three ecoregions (Alberta Mountain forests, Central British Columbia Mountain forests, and North Central Rockies forests) 70 km north of McBride. Access is by foot from the end of Walker Creek Forest Service Road, 85 km from Route 16. A continuous chain of national and provincial parks begins at Kakwa and extends southward to Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park in Alberta. The park is also the northern terminus of the Great Divide Trail, which extends 1,200 km south to Waterton Lakes National Park and continues in the United States as the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail to Mexico. The park includes two peaks over 10,000 feet, Narraway waterfall, caves, Triassic fish fossils, and dinosaur track sites. Forests are sub-boreal. The headquarters is at Kakwa Lake (N54°0′ W120°11′). The northern extent is along the Narraway River (N54°16′ W120°15′), the western extent is at McGregor River at Jarvis Creek (N53°59′ W120°42′), and the southeastern extent is at Intersection Mountain (N53°49′ W120°0′).

Marl Creek Provincial Park (N51°31′ W117°12′) is 169 ha on the Columbia River about 25 north of Golden. The park includes the last remaining natural reaches of the Columbia River, as well as old growth forest. It is not accessible to the public.

Ram Creek Ecological Reserve (N50°2′ W115°36′) is 122 ha protecting natural hot springs. The rare vivid dancer damselfly (Argia vivida) is found at the hot springs, along with a rare plant, Crawe’s sedge. The reserve is in the Kootenay Range east of Routes 93-95.

Rearguard Falls Provincial Park (N52°58′ W119°22′) is 48 ha on Route 16 just west of Mount Robson Provincial Park. It is noted as an observation point to observe salmon on the Fraser River.

Skookumchuck Prairie (N49°51′ W115°44′) is an Important Bird Area for a breeding population of long-billed curlew. The area is along Routes 93-95 in the Upper Kootenay River area.

Small River Caves Provincial Park (N53°10′ W119°30′), is 1,800 ha and protects a series of caves partially overlain by a glacier. It is accessible by logging road from Route 16 north of Valemount.

Sunbeam Creek Ecological Reserve (N53°21′ W120°7′), is 510 ha on the northeastern side of the Rocky Mountain trench, off Route 16 at McBride. The area includes the glaciated McBride Peak and protects alpine communities on the peak.

Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°7′ W115°33′) is 1,900 ha in a Douglas-fir forest with two natural lakes and the Lussier Hot Springs along the park entrance road. A hiking trail is on the north shore of Whiteswan Lake. The site is east of Routes 93-95 on the Whiteswan Forest Service Road, which is south of Canal Flats.

 

North Central Rockies Forest, Part H, World Heritage Site

Arctomys Cave, Burgess Shale, and Spiral Tunnels

The southern parts of this ecoregion in Montana and along the US-Canadian border were included in an earlier post. This focus is north of the 50th parallel. The western slopes of the Rocky Mountains from the Fraser River headwaters to the Cariboo, Monashee, Selkirk, and Purcell Mountains are included in this ecoregion. The Columbia River begins south of Kootenay National Park and flows north, then completes a U-turn and heads south, all in this ecoregion. Major features are Glacier, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks of Canada. The ecoregion continues south into Montana including the U.S.’s Glacier National Park, which was the subject of an earlier post. Sites are classified according to the mountain range in which they are found.

·         Continental Divide ranges extend along the Alberta-British Columbia border and include the High Rock, Kootney, Mitchell, Opell, and Livingstone Ranges, bordered on the west by the Rocky Mountain Trench. This includes the upper Columbia and Fraser Rivers.

·         Purcell Ranges are between the Rocky Mountain Trench and the Kootenay Lake trench, including the Duncan River. Bugaboo Provincial Park and Purcell Wilderness Conservancy are in this area.

·         Selkirk Ranges are between Kootenay Lake and the south-flowing Columbia River, including the Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes. Major features are Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks, Goat Range Provincial Park.

·         Monashee Ranges are west of the Columbia River and extend to the North Thompson River.

·         Cariboo Ranges are north of the North Thompson River and west of the Fraser River. Major features are the Wells-Gray, Cariboo Mountains, and Bowron Lakes Provincial Parks.

Coniferous forest is the dominant vegetation, and it benefits from Pacific moisture. Hemlock, yew, larch, and western red cedar, lodgepole pine, and Douglas-fir are common. There are many remnant old growth forests as noted in the site descriptions. In addition to coniferous forest, mountain meadows and low elevation foothill grasslands are found. Glaciers are noted in site descriptions in this northern area. Large carnivores such as the wolf and grizzly, as well as caribou, mountain goat and waterfowl use the intact forests, which are interrupted by only a few road corridors.

World Heritage Site

The World Heritage Site in this section of the North-Central Rockies forests is the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. It consists of seven parks chosen for classic illustrations of glacial geologic processes—icefields, remnant valley glaciers, canyons, alpine meadows, lakes, and waterfalls. Six of the seven parks in this designation are all or partially in the North-Central Rockies forests ecoregion: Mount Assiniboine, Banff, Hamber, Kootenay, Mount Robson, and Yoho. In addition, there are six national historic sites within these parks and therefore within the boundaries of the world heritage site.

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia, is known as the Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies. The park is accessible only on foot from the end of a gravel road from Banff to Sunshine Valley or from the Spray River south of Canmore in British Columbia. Included in the park are Mount Assiniboine Lodge (1928) and the Magog Lake Fossil Beds (N50˚54’ W115˚38’), Mount Assiniboine (N50˚52’ W115˚39’), and Sunshine Meadows (N51˚4’ W115˚47’), the largest alpine meadow in the Canadian Rockies.

Athabasca Pass National Historic Site, Alberta-British Columbia (N52˚23’ W118˚11’), commemorates the major fur transportation route traversed by early adventurers in the early 1800s. The first white man to cross the Rockies, David Thompson, used the pass in 1811, and it was a fur trade route to the Oregon territory for the next 50 years afterward.  The site is accessed from Jasper National Park via the 7-km-long road to Moab Lake south of Route 93A, then by trail for 49 km along the Whirlpool River, a three-day hike.

Banff National Park, Alberta, is primarily in the Alberta Mountain forests ecoregion; however, the Bow River Valley from Banff downstream to the park boundary is within the North Central Rockies forests ecoregion. The Rocky Mountain Legacy Bike Trail extends from west of Banff (N51˚10’ W115˚40’) downstream to Canmore (N51˚5’ W115˚21’), outside of the park. There are two National Historic Sites in the North Central Rockies forests ecoregion of Banff National Park. Banff Springs Hotel National Historic Site (N51˚10’ W115˚34’) was built between 1911 and 1928 by the Canadian Pacific Railroad and is still operated today. Banff Park Museum National Historic Site (N51˚11’ W115˚35’) is a natural history museum housed in a 1903 log building.

Hamber Provincial Park, British Columbia (N52˚22’ W117˚46’) is a 24,000-ha wilderness park accessed by a 22-km-long trail from Sunwapta Falls in Jasper National Park. At the end of the hike along the Athabasca River is Fortress Lake. Vegetation includes spruce, balsam, and rhododendron.

Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, extends from semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain trench to the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies, and is along Route 93 between Radium Hot Springs and Banff.  The northernmost point is in the Tokumm Creek headwaters (N51°19’ W116°17’) and the southernmost point is east of Invermere on Stoddart Creek (N50°35’ W115°57’). The visitor center is in Radium Hot Springs. At the west gate of the park is Sinclair Canyon and the Redwall Fault, a deep canyon just outside of Radium Hot Springs on Route 93. To the east, Radium Hot Springs (N50°38’ W116°2’) are the largest hot springs pool in Canada.  Restoration Area (N50°37’ W116°3’), located at the Redstreak Campground at Radium Hot Springs, is viewed from an interpretive loop trail which discusses the role of prescribed fire.

The Paint Pots (N51°10’ W116°9’) were a location used by the Ktunaxa people for the collection of ochre for ceremonies and trade.  A trail accesses the site from Route 93. The Rockwall (N51°6’ W116°12’) is a vertical limestone wall that stretches for 55 km along the northwestern boundary of the park. Across from the Marble Campground, Marble Canyon (N51°11’ W116°8’) is the deep gorge of Tokumm Creek upstream of its confluence with the Vermillion River. A trail provides numerous scenic overlooks. The hike to Stanley Glacier (N51°12’ W116°5’) is 10 km round trip and includes waterfalls as well as Burgess Shale fossils at the base of Mount Stanley.

Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, is 275,800 ha including Mount Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 m. The park protects the headwaters of the Fraser River, the deepest cave in North America north of Mexico, 530-m-deep Arctomys Cave (N53°4’ W118°54’), Precambrian fossils of the earliest life with hard shells, and 800-year-old whitebark pines. The westernmost point is in the Swiftcurrent Creek watershed (N53°3’ W119°26’), the northernmost point is Whiteshield Mountain (N53°18’ W119°21’), and the southeasternmost point is at Fraser Pass (N52°31’ W118°19’). The Ramparts formation is along the eastern border of the park, separating it from Jasper National Park.  Park facilities are along Route 16 which extends from Yellowhead Pass west across the park, following the Fraser River. From the Visitor Center (N53°2’ W119°14’), Berg Lake (N53°9’ W119°10’) is accessible by a 22-km hike through the Valley of a Thousand Falls. A short 1.5-km walk along the Fraser River from the Visitor Center leads to Overlander Falls. From Yellowhead Lake (N 52°52’ W118°32’), the Mount Fitzwilliam Trail leads to alpine lakes in a 14-km hike.

Yellowhead Pass National Historic Site, Alberta-British Columbia (N52˚53’ W118˚27’) is on Route 16 in Mount Robson Provincial Park. This major highway and rail crossing was also an early fur trade route across the Rockies from the 1820s to the 1850s.

Yoho National Park, British Columbia is 1,300 km2 and is known for its towering rock walls, waterfalls, and paleontology. Kootenay National Park is to the south and Banff National Park is to the east. The Burgess Shale Fossil Beds (N51°26’ W116°29’) are between Mount Field and Wapta Mountain north of Field and accessible only by a guided tour.  Between 520 and 530 million years ago, hard-bodied animals first entered the fossil record. We know that because of the fossils found in Yoho National Park at the Burgess Shale. This fossil deposit is the best record of the diversity of life that first appeared in the Cambrian explosion. Many of the fossils are believed to be arthropods, although there is a chordate and many other fossils are as yet unclassifiable into phyla, or represent phyla that no longer exist. Burgess shale fossils may also be seen on the Mount Stephens guided hike, which leaves from the visitor center in Field.

Emerald Lake (N51°27’ W116°32’) is a scenic alpine lake at the end of the Emerald Lake Road, which begins south of Field.  Kicking Horse River Canadian Heritage River consists of the 49 km within Yoho National Park from Wapta Lake (N51°26’ W116°21’) downstream to the park boundary (N51°14’ W116°39’) as well as 18.5 km of the tributary Yoho River from its headwaters near Twin Falls to confluence with the Kicking Horse River (N51°35’ W116°31’).

Lake O’Hara (N51°21’ W116°20’) is a hiking area accessible by bus leaving from the Wapta Lake parking lot 13 km east of Field.  The area is noted for its hanging valleys and extensive trail network, with 34 maintained trails. A lodge and campground are at the lake.

Natural Bridge (N51°23’ W116°32’) is across the Kicking Horse River southwest of Field. Wapta Falls (N51°11’ W116°35’) is on the Kicking Horse River south of Field and is 30 m high by 150 m wide, accessible by a 2.3-km trail. From the Yoho Valley Road, trails lead to Takkakaw Falls (N51°31’ W116°29’), 254 m in height, Laughing Falls on the Little Yoho River, and Twin Falls.

There are two national historic sites within Yoho National Park:

Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site (N51°27’ W116°17’) commemorates the completion of the first railroad across Canada in 1885, unifying the country. It is the highest point on the Canadian Pacific Railway, at 5,538 feet. The historic site also includes the Spiral Tunnels (N51°26’ W116°25’), visible from a viewpoint and hiking trails leaving Route 1 between Field and Kicking Horse Pass. These switchbacks were completed in 1909 to relieve the steep grade to Kicking Horse Pass. An eastbound train first spirals to the left in a tunnel for 891 m, exiting 15 m higher and then crossing the river. On the south side of the river, it spirals 991 m inside the mountain and exits 17 m higher.

Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site (N51°33’ W116°32’) overlooks the spectacular twin falls in Yoho National Park. Constructed between 1908 and 1928, it is an example of the Rustic Design Tradition utilized in early national park architecture and is also recognized for its role in recreation and tourism in Canada. The site is at the end of an 8.5-km one-way hike from the Takkakaw Falls trailhead on Yoho Valley Road. There are rooms available for rent.

Ramsar Site                                                                                                                                                              

The Ramsar Site (Wetlands of International Importance) in the North Central Rocky Mountain forests is in the Rocky Mountain trench. The Columbia Wetlands Ramsar site consists of the Columbia National Wildlife Area and Columbia Wildlife Management Area, British Columbia. These properties are within a 180-km-long area in the Rocky Mountain trench from Fairmont Hot Springs (N50°20’ W115°53’) north to Mica Reservoir (N51°30’ W117°9’). It is a key site on the Pacific Flyway. Wetlands along the Columbia River provide habitat for waterfowl such as ducks and swans. The Ramsar site includes the 17,000-ha Columbia Wildlife Management Area and Burges James Gadsden Provincial Park (N51°24’ W117°3’), a 400-ha area that includes the Moberly Marsh, is on Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) north of Golden. It also includes four Canadian Wildlife Service properties which constitute the national wildlife area. These are at Harrogate (N50°57’ W116°24’), Spillamacheen (N50°54’ W116°23’), Brisco (N50°49’ W116°17’), and Wilmer Marsh (N50°33’ W116°4’), all along Route 95 between Windermere and Golden.

Other National Sites

Nationally designated lands in the North-Central Rocky Mountain forests include Kootenay and Yoho National Parks, described above under World Heritage Sites.

Barkerville National Historic Site (53°4’ W121°31’), is a 457-ha property heritage property and park owned by the Province of British Columbia and managed by the Barkerville Heritage Trust in the Cariboo Mountains. In 1862, the town was the site of the largest creek-side placer gold deposit ever discovered. Today, it is the largest living history museum in western North America, with 125 heritage buildings. Even today, the site is remote, reached deep in the Cariboo Mountains at the end of Route 26 about 85 km east of Quesnel.

Glacier National Park, British Columbia, is 1,350 km2 on the Trans-Canada Highway between Mount Revelstoke and Yoho National Parks in the Selkirk Mountains. It includes Rogers Pass National Historic Site, described separately. The northwestern-most point is in the Mountain Creek watershed (N51˚28’ W117˚53’), the easternmost point is on Grizzly Creek (N51˚20’ W117˚12’), the southeastern-most point is at the Beaver River headwaters (N51˚4’ W117˚16’), and the southwestern-most point is on the Incomappleux River (N51˚6’ W117˚36’). The park features a hemlock-cedar rainforest at Hemlock Grove on the Illecillewaet River (N51˚15’ W117˚40’), Glacier House (N51˚17’ W117˚31’), a Victorian-era hotel site, and Rogers Pass visitor center. From Glacier House, trails lead to the foot of glacier and to alpine meadows. An old growth forest is along the Beaver River.

Kootenae House National Historic Site, British Columbia (N50°32’ W116°3’) is at the confluence of Toby Creek and the Columbia River between Invermere and Wilmer in the Rocky Mountain trench. The site of a fur trading post established by David Thompson in 1806 is interpreted. The post facilitated trade with the Ktunaxa people and served as a base of exploration of the northwestern Rocky Mountains.

Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia, is 260 km2 on the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) in the Selkirk Mountains. The approximate boundaries are Revelstoke in the southwest (N51˚0’ W118˚12’), Illecillewaet River in the east (N51˚7’ W117˚53’), and Maunder Creek in the north (N51˚11’ W117˚59’). The major features are the 2,000-m climb by road or trail to Mount Revelstoke (N51˚3’ W118˚9’) and an old growth cedar and hemlock rainforest along the Illecillewaet River in the eastern portions of the park (N51˚5’ W117˚55’). Large skunk cabbage plants are along the trails in the rainforest. The 26-km roadway to the 1,835-meter Mount Revelstoke is known as the Meadows in the Sky Parkway.

Rogers Pass National Historic Site, British Columbia (N51˚17’ W117˚31’) is on the Trans-Canada Highway in Glacier National Park of Canada and includes early railroad history sites, including the Glacier House Hotel site. The site commemorates the completion of the first trans-continental rail link across Canada. The pass was discovered in 1881 as part of an effort to survey alternative rail lines across Canada. When chosen as the preferred railroad route, Canadian Pacific needed to use new technologies to cope with a 12-m annual snowfall and avalanche danger. A system of sheds was built along the route. Completion of a railroad fulfilled the Canadian confederation’s promise to connect British Columbia with the rest of the provinces. In 1917, the railroad over the pass was replaced by a tunnel. A visitor center and trails interpret the historic sites.

to be continued

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is becoming known at the best record of Late Cretaceous terrestrial life. The remains of dinosaurs—hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, and tyrannosaurs—are impressive, with more than 50 genera of dinosaurs represented. There are more than 5,000 square km of fossil-rich Late Cretaceous rocks exposed. The realization of the fossil riches in the area did not come until the 1980s. More than 800 fossil locations are known (Stokstad 2001). In 2011, the sixth entirely new species of dinosaur was discovered in the monument. Fossil of plants and invertebrates are also preserved with the dinosaurs. The monument contains the Wolverine Petrified Forest, the second largest Late Triassic fossil forest known (Ash 2001). The park offers scenic drives, slot canyons, hoodoos, dinosaur tracks, and arches. The three major sections, from west to east, are the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Escalante River canyons. This is one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states and well deserving as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

Ash, Sidney. 2001. A Late Triassic Trove of Fossil Plants. Science 294:2093.

Stokstad, Erik. 2001. Utah’s Fossil Trove Beckons, and Tests, Researchers. Science 294:41-43

 

 

 

Trans-Baikal, Stanovoy, and Greater Hinggan

Dinosaurs with feathers, the world’s largest forest fire, and the Vitim comet explosion

Map coordinates: 50 to 60 degrees north, 112 to 126 degrees east

Countries: China (Inner  Mongolia, Heilongjiang); Mongolia (Eastern); Russia (Amur, Buryatia Republic, Irkutsk, Sakha Republic, Zabaykalsky).

This area includes the watersheds of the Vitim, Olekma, and Aldan Rivers (tributaries to the Lena), as well as the upper Amur River/Heilongjiang River watershed. These rivers drain a mountainous region of boreal forests and tundra, with the Stanovoy Range, Stanovoy Plateau, Vitim Tableland, Yablonovoy Range, Greater Hinggin Range, and Dzhagdy Range being prominent. Although boreal forest occupies most of the area, mixed deciduous forests are in the southeast and grasslands are in the south of the map area. The Daursky Biosphere Reserve (Torey Lakes Ramsar Site) is described under the Mongolian grasslands ecoregion (PA 813). This region has been the site of recent fossil discoveries that changed the way we think about evolution.  For example, based on findings at the Kulinda Fossil Site, it can be concluded that feathers were not unique to the ancestors of birds and may even have been quite widespread.

Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests

PA 426, Manchurian Mixed Forests, occupies portions of Amur, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia.The diverse mixed forest of pine and broadleaf deciduous trees supports species of birch, poplar, willow, oak, and ginseng. One Ramsar Site, the Heilongjiang Nanweng National Nature Reserve (N51˚19’ E125˚23’) is 229,523 ha located in the Songling District of Inner Mongolia, administered by the Da Hinggan Ling Prefecture of Heilongjiang province. Extensive marshes in the Nen River system on the south slope Yilehuli Mountains are forested with mixed conifer forests. Siberian crane and musk deer are present. It is an Important Bird Area for swan goose, lesser white-fronted goose, and scaly-sided merganser.

Huma River Nature Reserve, Heilongjiang (N52˚21’ E124˚48’ west end) is 60,000 ha and extends along the river from east of Tahe to the confluence with the Heilongjiang River. It is an Important Bird Area for swan goose, lesser white-fronted goose, Baer’s pochard, and scaly-sided merganser.

PA505, Da Hinggan-Dzhagdy Mountains conifer forests are found in Amur, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia,and Zabaykalsky. A unique flora (Daurian) of larch, oak, hazel, alder, birch, poplar, and elm is found in this mountain area. The forests were mostly uncut until the 20th century and constitute the largest single timber stand in the world. The mountains are the southern limit of wolverines, lynx, and elk.  The Greater Hinggan Mountains divide the Manchurian plain from the Mongolian plateau. The area is the site of one of the largest wildfires in recent history, known as the Black Dragon fire. It took place in 1987. It was started by a temporary employee operating a brush cutter, which caught fire and spread to grasslands and nearby woods on May 6, 1987. Other fires started burning about the same time in Russia and China. The fire eventually burned millions of acres in China and Russia (Pyne, 1989; Salisbury, 1989).

The Gen River and the Genhelengshuiyu Nature Reserve (N51˚0’ E122˚0’) is an Important Bird Area for Baikal teal, redlk-crowned crane, and Siberian crane.

Hanma Nature Reserve, Inner Mongolia (N51˚35’ E122˚42’), is 107,348 ha on the main ridge of the Greater Hinggan Mountains. It is an Important Bird Area for scaly-sided merganser and red-crowned crane.

Huma River Nature Reserve, Heilongjiang (N52˚21’ E124˚48’ west end)  is 60,000 ha and extends along the river from east of Tahe to the confluence with the Heilongjiang River. It is an Important Bird Area for swan goose, lesser white-fronted goose, Baer’s pochard, and scaly-sided merganser.

Huzhong Nature Reserve, Heilongjiang (N51˚37’ E123˚3’), is a conifer forest of 167,213 ha. It is an Important  Bird Area for swan goose, lesser white-fronted goose, Baer’s pochard, and scaly-sided merganser.

Mangui, Inner Mongolia (N52˚8’ E122˚12’) is an Important Bird Area for swan goose, scaly-sided merganser, red-crowned crane, and Siberian crane.

Boreal Forests/Taiga

PA601, East Siberian taiga, is the most extensive natural forest of larch in the world. The portions on the map are in Amur, Buryatia Republic, Irkutsk, Sakha Republic, Zabaykalsky and Inner Mongolia.

Baissa, Buryatia Republic  (N53˚18’ E112˚6’) is the most important locality for fossil insects from the early Cretaceous. More than 10,000 specimens of insects have been collected, many of which are aphids. Fossils of spiders, ostracods, snails, bryozoans, and fish also have been found (Homan, Zyla, and Wegierek, 2014).

Ivano-Arakhleisky State Natural Landscape Reserve (Zakaznik), Zabaykalski Krai (N52˚13’ E113˚54’) consists of six large lakes in a larch, aspen, and birch forest zone along the Khilok River, a tributary of Lake Baikal.

Oak Grove Natural Monument, Zabakalsky Krai (N52˚40’ E120˚0’) is a Mongolian oak forest among pines and larches overlooking the Argun River.

Olekminsky Nature Reserve, Sakha Republic (N59˚0’ E121˚45’) is 847,100 ha along the Olekma River. The virgin boreal forest is known for larch pine, and 40 taiga animals, including the Siberian sable. A rock formation, the Devil’s Finger, overlooks the Olekma River.

Along the Tungur and Nenyuga Rivers, Zabaykalsky Krai (N54˚49’ E121˚7’) are lowland swamps which are an Important Bird Area for Siberian crane.

Vitimsky Nature Reserve, Irkutsk (N57˚0’ E117˚0’), includes larch forest and tundra in the Kodar Mountain range.

Vitim Event, Irkutsk (N58˚16’ E113˚27’), an explosion that flattened trees over a wide area, took place in 2002 and is believed to be the site of a comet explosion, similar to what occurred in Tunguska.

PA 609, Trans-Baikal Conifer Forests, are forests of larch and pine adjacent to Lake Baikal.  The portion shown is in Zabaykalsky Krai and includes Chita. The southern slopes have steppe, and there is permafrost over a wide area.

Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands

PA 804, Daurian forest steppe, is a mostly grassland area supporting scattered forests of birch and willow.  Mongol Daguur (Mongolian Dauria) Strictly Protected Area, East Aimag, Mongolia (N50˚3’ E114˚50’) is across the border from the Russian Daursky Biosphere Reserve.  It is a low mountainous area with grasslands and numerous lakes, ponds, and wetlands supporting migratory birds.  It is an IBA for six species of crane, the swan goose, and waterbirds and is also habitat for the Daurian hedgehog.  Khukh Lake on the Teel River in the southern part of the area is an IBA for swan goose, white-naped crane, and hooded crane.  Forests of willow, birch, and aspen are also present.

Alkhanai National Park, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia (N50˚40’ E113˚25’) is 105,000 ha surrounding Mount Alkhanai, an ancient volcano. The park contains rock formations, springs, and waterfalls and is also a sacred center for northern Buddhists.

Aginskaya Steppe Zakaznik, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia (N50˚44’ E115˚0’) is part of the Aginskaya Lakes IBA for breeding swan goose, saker falcon, great bustard, and yellow-breasted bunting. This is a saline lake and marsh area. Within the reserve, Gorbunka Lake is an alkaline lake with cyanobacteria and meadow vegetation northwest of Kunkur.

Argun’ River, Zabaykalsky Krai (north end N50˚17’ E119˚19’; south end E117˚57’) is an IBA for Baer’s pochard, breeding swan goose, Baikal teal, and Siberian crane.

Bain-Tsagan Lake Natural Monument, Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚41’ E113˚37’) is a thawed permafrost lake on a tributary of the Taptanay River.

Borzhigantai Spring Funnel Natural Monument , Zabaykalsky Krai (N51˚17’ E114˚54’) is an area of five springs near Mogoytuy.

Dzeren Valley Zakaznik, Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚19’ E115˚17’), is a grassland steppe and IBA for swan goose, saker falcon, great bustard, white-naped crane, and yellow-breasted bunting.

Gornaya Steppe Zakaznik, Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚0’ E113˚22’) is along the Middle Onon River, which is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area for the swan goose, saker falcon, great bustard, and Siberian crane.

Kulinda Fossil Site, Zabaykalsky Krai (N52˚30’ E116˚30’, location approximate), is on the Olov River west of Chernyshevsk.  This is the location of the recent find of Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, a 1.5-meter-long bipedal herbivorous dinosaur. The animals had small scales around the distal hindlimb, larger imbricated scales around the tail, monofilaments around the head, and featherlike structures around the humerus, femur, and tibia. Feathers coexisted with scales and were potentially widespread among the entire dinosaur clade. Feathers were for insulation and signaling and only later co-opted for flight. The dinosaur is from Cherynyshevsky District, Olov Depression, in a deposit with abundant well-preserved fossils of plants, insect larvae, and freshwater crustaceans that suggest deposition in a low-energy, probably lacustrine, freshwater environment. There was local volcanic activity. The pedal scales of birds were derived from feathers; the development of scales requires inhibition of feather development. This inhibition is lost in breeds with feathered feet (Godefroit et al., 2014).

Tsasucheisky Bor State Natural Reserve (Zakaznik), Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚25’ E115˚10’) is a high terrace on the right bank of the Onon River. This 40-km-long river terrace contains Krylov pine forests, a subspecies of scotch pine.

Urul’guveem hollow, Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚25’ E117˚24’) is a grassland steppe area and IBA for the black stork and great bustard.

PA 813, Mongolian-Manchurian grasslands. Flat to rolling grasslands provide habitat for wild ungulates and are used for sheep and goat grazing. Torey Lakes Ramsar Site and Daursky Biosphere Preserve, Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚0’ E115˚32’), is an area of steppe, rivers, and islands which support 90 species of breeding birds and 42 mammals.  The lakes are an IBA for Baer’s pochard and Siberian crane. The area also supports patches of Pinus sylvestris forest.  The Torey Lakes are salty and dry up every 20 or so years. North of the lakes are granite hills. Evidence of human settlement dates back to 4,000 years.

Argun’ River, Zabaykalsky Krai (north end N50˚17’ E119˚19’; south end 49˚31’ E117˚57’) is an IBA for Baer’s pochard, breeding swan goose, Baikal teal, and Siberian crane.

Bab’e Lake Natural Monument, Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚15’ EW116˚16’), is a saline lake near Borzinsky with cyanobacteria. The ud is used for health reasons.

Barun-Shivertuy Lake Natural Monument, Zabaykalsky Krai (N50˚3’ E116˚44’) is a saline steppe lake with black therapeutic mud. Flies on the lake are attracted to algae and detritus.

Tundra

PA 1112, Trans-Baikal and Bald Mountain Tundra, is found on mountain peaks in Amur, Buryatia Republic, Irkutsk, Sakha Republic, and Zabaykalsky.

Dzerginsky Nature Reserve, Buryatia Republic (N55˚12’ E112˚0’) is 237,800 ha of steppe, taiga, and larch forests.

Vitimsky Nature Reserve, Irkutsk (N57˚0’ E117˚0’), includes 585,000 ha of larch forest and tundra in the Kodar Mountain range.

References

Center for Russian Nature Conservation. Wild Russia website. Olekminsky Zapovednik (http://www.wild-russia.org/bioregion8/8-olekma.htm)

Godefroit, Pascal et al. 2014. A Jurassic Ornithischian Dinosaur from Siberia with Both Feathers and Scales. Science 345:451-455 (25 July 2014).  Supplementary materials at DOI: 10.1126/science.1253351,

Homan, Agnieszka, Dagmara Zyla,and Piotr Wegierek. 2014. Bajsaphididae fam. nov. from the Lower Cretaceous of Baissa, Russia: A New Family of Aphids and its Evolutionary Significance. Cretaceous Research, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cretres.2014.03.017.

Magnificent Trans-Baikal. www.nature.chita.ru/Reserves

Pyne, Stephen J. 1989. Apocalytic Fire and Other Exaggerations. BioScience 39:732-733.

Russian Nature. http://www.rusnature.info/zap/index.htm.

Salisbury, Harrison E. 1989. The Great Black Dragon Fire: A Chinese Inferno. Little, Brown and Company, Boston.

Sierra Nevada Forests, Part 4B: Reservoirs, Trails, Wilderness

Reservoirs and Hydroelectric Power Projects
This section includes federally authorized hydroelectric projects, reservoirs located on federal lands, and reservoirs constructed by federal agencies. Because of the large number of hydroelectric developments in the Sierra Nevada, reservoirs are listed by river basin.
Kaweah River
Crystal Lake, Southern California Edison (N36º26’ W118º34’) is a storage dam for Kaweah Hydro Plant near Mineral King.
Eagle Lake, Southern California Edison, Sequoia National Park (N36º25’ W118º36’) is a storage dam for Kaweah Hydro Plant near Mineral King.
Franklin Lake, Southern California Edison, Sequoia National Park (N36º25’ W118º34’) is a storage dam for Kaweah Hydro Plant near Mineral King.
Marble Flat Diversion Dam, Southern California Edison, Sequoia National Park (36º31’ W118º48’).
Middle Fork Diversion Dam, Southern California Edison, Sequoia National Park (36º31’ W118º47’)
Upper Monarch Lake, Southern California Edison, Sequoia National Park (N36º27’ W118º34’) is a storage dam for the Kaweah Hydro Plant near Mineral King
National Trails System
Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail extends 2,600 miles from Canada to Mexico, passing through some of the most scenic areas in California. The Sierra Nevada section provides a tour of wilderness areas. Beginning at Walker Pass National Historic Landmark on State Route 178 (N35º40’ W118º2’), the trail passes through Owens Peak Wilderness (N35º44’ W118º0’), crosses Canebrake Road into Chimney Peak Wilderness (N35º50’ W118º3’), crosses Chimney Basin Road into Domeland Wilderness (N35º54’ W118º7’), and exits Domeland at Kennedy Meadows in the Inyo National Forest (N36º3’ W118º8’). North of Kennedy Meadows, the trail follows the Kern River in South Sierra Wilderness. The trail then crosses the Golden Trout Wilderness boundary (N36º16’ W118º8’) and passes Big Dry Meadow and Trail Pass in the wilderness before entering Sequoia National Park (N36º28’ W118º16’). The trail crosses the Bighorn Plateau in the park and then enters Kings Canyon National Park at Forester Pass (N36º42’ W118º22’). Within the park the trail follows portions of both the Middle Fork and South Fork Kings River Wild Rivers. The trail leaves Kings Canyon National Park on the South Fork San Joaquin River (N37º14’ W118º50’) and enters the John Muir Wilderness. The trail passes Selden Pass, Silver Pass, and Tully Hole in the wilderness before crossing into Ansel Adams Wilderness at Crater Meadow (N37º35’ W119º3’).

National Recreation Trails (NRTs)
Cannell Meadow NRT, Sequoia NF, is a mountain bike trail extending for 11.5 miles from the horse corrals two miles north of Kernville (N35º46’ W118º26’) to Pine Flat and ending at Cannell Meadow (N35º50’ W118º22’). The trail offers views of the Kern River valley.
Congress NRT, Sequoia NP, California (N36º34’ W118º45’) is a two-mile trail through the Giant Forest on Generals Highway, passing numerous giant sequoia trees, many of which are named after famous people or institutions.
Crystal Cave NRT, Sequoia NP, California (N36º35’ W118º50’) is a one-half mile trail, the entrance path for visitors touring the underground caverns.
Jackass Creek NRT, Sequoia NF (N36ᵒ5’ W118º14’), is a six-mile off-highway vehicle trail beginning north of Fish Lake Campground on Sherman Pass Road (Forest Road 21S01) west of South Sierra Wilderness. The trail ends near Jackass Peak.
Summit NRT, Giant Sequoia NM, California, extends 12 miles north from Windy Gap on Forest Road 21S94 (N36º3’ W118º35’), crossing Slate Mountain Botanical Area, then crossing State Route 190 at Quaking Aspen (N36º7’ W118º33’). The national recreation trail portion ends at Log Cabin Meadow and the Clicks Creek Trailhead (N36º10’ W118º34’). Summit Trail continues north into the Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.
Zumwalt Meadow NRT, Kings Canyon NP, California (N36º47’ W118º36’), leads 1.5 miles through the Kings River valley, with views of the Grand Sentinel, which consists of vertical granite cliffs. The trailhead is three miles east of Cedar Grove Village.

Wild and Scenic Rivers

The Kern River (designated as North Fork Kern River in the wild and scenic river system) within Sequoia National Park, Golden Trout Wilderness, and Sequoia National Forest is part of the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Harrison Pass (N36º42’ W118º24’) downstream to the Tulare-Kern County line (N35º48’ W118º27’). The North Fork is the longest, linear, glacially sculptured valley in the world. Virgin riparian woodlands are found here.

The South Fork Kern River, Dome Land Wilderness, Golden Trout Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, and South Sierra Wilderness, is a wild and scenic river for 73 miles from its headwaters in the Golden Trout Wilderness (N36º25’ W118º14’) downstream to the Sequoia National Forest boundary in the Dome Land Wilderness (N35º45’ W118º11’). It is a whitewater river through the Dome Land Wilderness.

National Wilderness Preservation System

The 23 areas that make up the National Wilderness Preservation System include some of the oldest and largest areas in the wilderness system. The John Krebs Wilderness and Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness areas are described under Man and the Biosphere Reserves.
Chimney Peak Wilderness, National System of Public Lands, California (N35º52’ W118º3’), is 13,100 acres surrounded by the Dome Land Wilderness on the north, west, and south, the Owens Peak Wilderness on the east, and the Sacatar Trail wilderness on the northeast. These canyons and ridges at the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada contain cottonwoods, cactus, pinyon pine, and sagebrush. Chimney Creek is a trout stream. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses two sections of the wilderness, one east of Chimney Basin Road (N35º54’ W118º7’) and another north of Canebrake Road (N35º51’ W118º4’).
Dome Land Wilderness, Sequoia National Forest and National System of Public Lands, California, is 133,160 acres at the transition from the southernmost Sierra Nevada Mountains into the deserts. The northern portions are a large basin with conifers and wet meadows and the southern portions include granite domes. The northernmost point is on Bitter Creek (N36º2’ W118º10’), the easternmost point is near Chimney Creek (N35º53’ W118º2’), and the southernmost point is Gibonney Canyon near Onyx on State Route 178 (N35º41’ W118º16’). Major named features in the wilderness are Pine Mountain (N36º1’ W118º11’), Woodpecker Meadow (N35º58’ W118º16’), Rockhouse Basin (N35º56’ W118º10’), White Dome (N35º52’ W118º13’), Chimney Creek (N35º47’ W118º6’), and Pilot Knob (N35º44’ W118º13’). On the north edge of the wilderness in the Kern Plateau area, Bald Mountain Botanical Area (N36º1’ W118º15’) is protected for a rare Horkelia species, along with five pines and two fir species. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness for nine miles from Kennedy Meadows (N36º3’ W118º8’) south to Chimney Basin Road (N35º54’ W118º7’). Church Dome Research Natural Area (N35º52’ W118º16’) is a Jeffrey pine high elevation forest. The South Fork Kern River is a wild and scenic river from where it enters the wilderness at Kennedy Meadows (N36º1’ W118º8’) south 28 miles to where it leaves the Sequoia National Forest (N35º45’ W118º11’). Other wildernesses bordering Dome Land are Chimney Peak on the east, Owens Peak on the southeast, Sacatar Trail to the northeast, South Sierra on the north, and Kiavah on the south.
Golden Trout Wilderness, Inyo and Sequoia National Forests and Giant Sequoia National Monument, California, is 303,500 acres. Most of the wilderness is in the high Sierra meadows and forests, but the wilderness grades into the Mojave Desert ecoregion on its eastern side. The southeastern end is at Olancha Creek (N36º16’ W118º3’), the northeastern area is at Timosea Peak (N36º27’ W118º5’), the northwestern end is west of the North Fork Middle Fork Tule River (N36º18’ W118º40’), and the southwestern end is at the Forks of the Kern (N36º8’ W118º26’). The portion in the national monument includes Maggie Mountain (N36º16’ W118º37’) and its sequoia groves, Moses Mountain Research Natural Area, and South Mountaineer Creek RNA. In the Sequoia National Forest, the wilderness includes the Kern Plateau and the North and South Forks Kern National Wild and Scenic Rivers. In the Inyo National Forest portion, Jordan Hot Springs (N36º14’ W118º18’) is on Nine Mile Creek. Located along a historic wagon road across the Sierras, this was a 20th century resort that operated until 1990. In 1918, it was noted as having a big dance floor. Another scenic section in the Inyo portion is Volcano Meadow (N36º21’ W118º19’) and adjoining cinder cones. The trail up Golden Trout Creek from the Kern River passes a natural bridge formed by lava flows and Volcano Falls. In the northernmost portion on the John Muir Wilderness boundary, Golden Trout Camp provides week-long natural history workshops in the summer (www.goldentroutworkshops.com). Mountains include Cirque Peak (12,900’) on the John Muir Wilderness boundary (N36º29’ W118º14’), Toowa Range (N36º18’ W118º16’), the Great Western Divide (N36º17’ W118º28’), and Flatiron (N36º11’ W118º25’). Other features are Horseshoe Meadow (N36º27’ W118º10’), which is the major Inyo National Forest trailhead, Big Whitney Meadow (N36º26’ W118º16’), Strawberry Meadow (N36º18’ W118º11’), East Potholes (N36º15’ W118º9’), and Hells Hole (N36º15’ W118º22’). Hiking information is maintained at goldentroutwilderness.wordpress.com. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from the Sequoia National Park boundary (N36º28’ W118º16’), through Trail Pass and Big Dry Meadow to the South Sierra Wilderness boundary (N36º16’ W118º8’). The Kern River is a wild and scenic river from where it enters the wilderness from Sequoia National Park (N36º21’ W118º24’) downstream to the wilderness boundary at Forks of the Kern (N36º8’ W118º26’), which is the confluence of the Little Kern River. The South Fork Kern River within the wilderness is a wild and scenic river from its headwaters north of South Fork Meadow (N36º25’ W118º14’) for 20 miles downstream to where it leaves the wilderness north of Monache Meadows (N36º16’ W118º12’). South Mountaineer Creek candidate RNA (N36º12’ W118º36’) is 603 acres, including red fir forest near its southernmost limit. Other forest types are western white pine and lodgepole pine. Moses Mountain RNA (N36º17’ W118º 40’) is a giant sequoia forest with notable reproduction of younger trees. Also included is Long Meadow and areas of red fir forest. Last Chance Meadow RNA (N36º27’ W118º9’) is a 660-acre foxtail pine forest near Horseshoe Meadows. Some trees in the subalpine forest grow to 1,500 years in age. The RNA borders the Pacific Crest Trail. The wilderness borders the John Krebs, John Muir and Sequoia-Kings Canyon wildernesses on the north and South Sierra Wilderness on the south.
Jennie Lakes Wilderness, Sequoia National Forest, California, is 10,300 acres and includes 10,000-foot Mitchell Peak (N36º44’ W118º43’) adjacent to Kings Canyon National Park. The area contains ponds, meadows, and forests of red fir, lodgepole pine, and western white pine. Jennie Ellis Lake (N36º41’ W118º46’) and Weaver Lake (N36º42’ W118º48’) are within the wilderness. The wilderness borders the Sequoia-Kings Canyon wilderness on the east and south and the Giant Sequoia National Monument on the north.
Monarch Wilderness, Sequoia National Forest, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sierra National Forest, California, is 44,900 acres, with elevations ranging from 2,000 feet on the South Fork Kings River to 11,000 feet at Hogback Peak. It is divided into two sections by the Kings River and State Route 180. This area includes rugged mountains and multicolored rock formations to the west of Kings Canyon NP that are vegetated with chaparral and pine. In the south section are Agnew Grove (N36º47’ W118º47’), Yucca Point (N36º50’ W118º52’), and Windy Cliffs (N36º49’ W118º49’), along with trail access. The Kanawyer Trail provides views into Kings Canyon. The northern section is accessed by Deer Cove Trail which winds to Grizzly Lakes and Wildman Meadow (N36º50’ W118º42’). Other sites in the northern section are Mount Harrington (N36º52’ W118º44’), Little Tehipite Valley (N36º53’ W118º48’), and Deer Canyon (N36º52’ W118º53’). The Middle Fork Kings River Wild River bisects the wilderness from the confluence with the South Fork (N36º50’ W118º53’) upstream to the Kings Canyon National Park boundary (N36º53’ W118º48’). The South Fork Kings River Wild and Scenic River forms the southern border, then bisects the wilderness from the confluence with the Middle Fork upstream to Kings Canyon National Park boundary (N36º48’ W118º42’). The wilderness borders the John Muir wilderness on the northwest and the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness on the north and east. The Windy Gulch Geologic Area (N36º48’ W118º50’) is partially in the wilderness and partially in Sequoia National Monument. It includes Boyden Cave and the Evans Grove of giant sequoias.
John Krebs Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, California, is 40,000 acres and extends from the road to Mineral King south to the South Fork Kaweah River and Clough Cave (N36º21’ W118º46’). It is described under the Man and the Biosphere Reserves section.
Owens Peak Wilderness, National System of Public Lands, California, is a 73,900-acre transition area between the Great Basin, Mojave Desert, and Sierra Nevada with a variety of vegetation types including creosote bush, yucca, oak, and pinyon-juniper. The southernmost point is on State Route 178 west of Freeman Junction (N35º37’ 117º56’) and the northernmost point is at Chimney Meadow (N35º51’ W118º1’). Walker Pass National Historic Landmark (N35º40’ W118º2’) is on the southern edge of the wilderness on State Route 178. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from Walker Pass to Canebrake Road (N35º50’ W118º3’), passing 8,400-foot Owens Peak (N35º44’ W118º0’).
Sacatar Trail Wilderness, National System of Public Lands, California, is 50,500 acres bordered by the Inyo National Forest on the north near Lewis Canyon (N36º3’ W118º1’), Owens Peak Wilderness on the south near Deadfoot Canyon (N35º52’ W117º56’), Los Angeles Aqueduct on the east, Dome Land Wilderness on the west, and Kennedy Meadow Road (N35º58’ W118º6’) on the northwest. Features include Sacatar Canyon (N35º59’ W118º1’), Little Lake Canyon (N35º57’ W117º58’), Fivemile Canyon (N35º54’ W117º58’), and Scodia Meadow (N35º53’ W118º0’). The transition between the Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert ecoregion includes Joshua trees and pinyon-juniper. Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, California, is 768,000 acres and includes most of the undeveloped areas of the two national parks. It is described in detail under Man and the Biosphere Reserves.
South Sierra Wilderness, Inyo and Sequoia National Forests, California, is 60,000 acres and contains high elevation meadow lands, fir, and pine on the west side an pinyon-juniper on the east side. The north end is at Olanche Peak (N36º16’ W118º7’) and the south end is along the South Fork Kern River near Kennedy Meadows (N36º2’ W118º8’). Features included are Ball Mountain (N36º4’ W118º6’), Haiwee Pass (N36º8’ W118º4’), Round Mountain (N36º11’ W118º4’), Olanche Pass (N36º13’ W118º6’), Jackass Peak (N36º8’ W118º12’), and Finger Rock (N36º7’ W118º10’). The South Fork Kern Wild and Scenic River traverses the wilderness from Monache Meadow (N36º11’ W118º9’) to Kennedy Meadows. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail crosses the wilderness from Kennedy Meadows (N36º3’ W118º8’) north to the Golden Trout Wilderness boundary (N36 16’ W118 8’). The South Fork Kern River is a national wild and scenic river as if flows through the wilderness from Deer Island (N36º11’ W118º9’) south to Kennedy Meadows (N36º2’ W118º8’).
Other Federal Sites
Kaweah Area of Critical Environmental Concern, National System of Public Lands, California (N36º24’ W118º48’) is east of Three Rivers near the Sequoia National Park boundary, between the Middle Fork and South Fork Kaweah Rivers. This area contains the Case Mountain sequoia grove and rare plant habitat.
Chimney Peak Special Recreation Management Area, National System of Public Lands, California (N35º49’ W118º3’) includes the Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway, campgrounds, and a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail in the southern Sierra Nevada range. The Chimney Peak, Dome Land, and Owens Peak Wilderness areas are accessed from the byway, which begins at State Route 178.
Cyrus Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern, National System of Public Lands, California (N35º43’ W118º23’) contains habitat for the Kelso Creek monkeyflower to the north of Lake Isabella.
Indian Creek Recreation Area, National System of Public Lands, California (N38º45’ W119º47’), is 7,000 acres in the eastern Sierra north of Markleeville off of State Route 89. A campground, eight miles of trails, and the Curtz Lake Environmental Study Area are featured.
Keyesville Special Recreation Management Area, National System of Public Lands, California (N35º38’ W118º30’) is a whitewater recreation area, mountain biking, and off-road vehicle area downstream from Isabella Lake.
State and Local Sites
Balch County Park, California (N36º13’ W118º41’) is a campground surrounded by Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest, described separately. The park is administered by Tulare County.
Canebrake Ecological Reserve, California, is 7,200 acres along the South Fork Kern River adjacent to the Dome Land Wilderness. The Bluefield Ranch and Cap Canyon units (N35º43’ W118º18’) are along State Route 178. The Scodie Canyon unit (N35º39’ W118º11’) is south of Onyx, and the Canebrake Creek unit (N35º42’ W118º18’) is along Fay Ranch Road southwest of Dome Land Wilderness. This area at the south end of the Sierra Nevada is characterized by riparian habitats, blue oak-digger pine, sagebrush, and Joshua tree vegetation.
Monache Meadows Wildlife Area, California (N36º14’ W118º10’), is 250 acres surrounded by the Inyo National Forest. The site provides habitat for golden trout and Sierra Nevada fox. The South Fork Kern wild and scenic river passes through the property, which is accessible by a 40-mile drive on four-wheel drive roads from California Hot Springs through the Sequoia and Inyo National Forests. Forest Route 21S05 over Sherman Pass and Forest Route 21S03 to Blackrock are the approach roads.
Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest, California (N36º14’ W118º41’) is 4,800 acres containing 5,000 of the largest and oldest sequoia trees. It is surrounded by Giant Sequoia National Monument. Located north of Camp Nelson, this area contains the Mountain Home grove of giant sequoias.
Whitaker’s Forest, University of California-Berkeley (N36º42’ W118º56’), adjoins Kings Canyon National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument and is reached from the Quail Flat intersection. It includes 215 large giant sequoias and mixed conifers.
Private Sites
Kern River Preserve, National Audubon Society, California (N35º40’ W118º18’), is an Important Bird Area at the south edge of the Sierra Nevada with lowland riparian woodland is habitat for yellow-billed cuckoo, summer tanager, willow flycatcher, yellow warbler, and song sparrow. It is located east of Isabella Lake on State Route 178.

Sierra Nevada Forests, Part 4A: Sequoia and the Southern Sierra

Sierra Nevada forests Part 4A: Sequoia and the Southern Sierra

The southern Sierra Nevada includes the dramatic canyons of the Kern River and the tallest peaks culminating in Mount Whitney. This area is dominated by Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, Giant Sequoia National Monument, and Sequoia National Forest. Westward-draining streams are part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin freshwater ecoregion, while eastern slopes are part of the Death Valley freshwater ecoregion.

Man and the Biosphere Reserves

Sequoia and Kings Canyon Man and the Biosphere Reserve

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California, are a land of 14,000-foot mountains and giant trees. The high alpine meadows of the two parks are part of the Sierra Meadows South Important Bird Area and are habitat for great gray owl, blue grouse, pileated woodpecker, and Vaux’s swift.

Kings Canyon National Park is 461,900 acres in size. The northernmost point is at Glacier Divide (N37º14’ W118º47’), the southernmost is at Triple Divide Peak on the Great Western Divide (N36º36’ W118º32’), the easternmost point is Mount Bradley (N36º44’ W118º20’), and the westernmost point is near the Big Stump Grove (N36º43’ W118º59’). Kings Canyon contains two sections connected by State Route 180, Kings Canyon Highway. The high alpine meadows of the two parks are part of the Sierra Meadows South IBA and are habitat for great gray owl, blue grouse, pileated woodpecker, and Vaux’s swift.

In the General Grant section are groves of giant sequoias. Grant Grove (N36º44’ W118º58’) was one of the first groves purchased for the park in 1916. Trails lead to Grant Tree (N36º45’ W118º58’), the world’s third largest living tree, and Big Stump Basin (N36º43’ W118º59’), a sequoia forest that was logged and is now a second growth forest. Panoramic Point provides an overlook of the Kings River canyons. The area to the south of Generals Highway and in the Redwood Mountain Grove downstream is within the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness. Redwood Canyon (N36º39’ W118º51’) contains karst topography–springs and Lilburn Cave, the largest in California, with 17 miles of passages. The south boundary of this section is the North Fork Kaweah River (N36º37’ W118º53’).

The Kings Canyon section is dominated by deep glacier-carved canyons in the west and the Sierra Crest, barren alpine ridges, and glacially scoured basins in the east. Kings Canyon on the South Fork Kings River and Tehipite Valley on the Middle Fork Kings River (N36º55’ W118º47’) are two glacially carved canyons in the park. Tehipite Valley is accessible by trail. The eight-mile-long glaciated Kings Canyon includes Cedar Grove Village (N36º47’ W118º40’). The gorge is lined by sheer granite walls rising thousands of feet, with granite formations such as the Sphinx (N36º46’ W118º33’) lining the gorge. Hikes leading out of the gorge include the one to Mist Falls (N36º49’ W118º33’) and Upper Tent Meadow (N36º50’ W118º35’) Roaring River Falls (N36º47’ W118º37’) enters the valley to the east of Cedar Grove (Martin 1994). The Zumwalt Meadow National Recreation Trail (N36º47’ W118º36’) is in the gorge. The Kings Canyon section of the park is all designated as part of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness except for the road to Zumwalt Meadow. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the eastern alpine regions of the park. The trail enters Kings Canyon National Park from the south at Forester Pass (N36º42’ W118º22’). Within the park the trail follows portions of both the Middle Fork and South Fork Kings River Wild Rivers. The trail leaves Kings Canyon National Park on the South Fork San Joaquin River (N37º14’ W118º50’) and enters the John Muir Wilderness. The Middle Fork Kings River within Kings Canyon National Park is designated as a wild and scenic river from its headwaters at Helen Lake (N37º7’ W118º40’), elevation 11,600’ downstream to the park boundary (N36º53’ W118º48’). The South Fork Kings River is designated as a wild and scenic river from its headwaters in the Upper Basin (N37º1’ W118º27’) downstream to the park boundary (N36º48’ W118º42’). The South Fork San Joaquin River within the park is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Martha Lake (N37º5’ W118º44’) downstream to the park boundary at John Muir Rock (N37º13’ W118º50’).

Sequoia National Park is 404,000 acres. The northernmost point is at Harrison Pass on the Kings-Kern Divide (N36º42’ W118º24’), the westernmost point is on the North Fork Kaweah River at the Pierce Creek confluence (N36º36’ W118º55’), the southernmost point is in the Dillonwood Grove of giant sequoias (N36º18’ W118º42’) in the headwaters of the North Fork Tule River, and the easternmost point is at Army Pass (N36º30’ W118º14’).The major road traversing the park is the Generals Highway, which enters the park at Ash Mountain (N36º29’ W118º50’) in the west and leaves at Lost Grove (N36º39’ W118º50’) in the northwest. Great Western Divide separates the park into east and west sections. East of the Great Western Divide is the North Fork Kern River, the Kern Canyon glacial trench, and the Sierra Crest on the eastern boundary. West is the Kaweah River, deep canyons, giant sequoia groves, and karst areas.

The park contains lower elevation foothills with oak woodlands and chaparral. The main visitor center at Ash Mountain (N36⁰29’ W118⁰50’) is in this habitat. The Crystal Cave National Recreation Trail and the lower reaches of the various forks of the Kaweah River are also in this habitat. Pictographs may be viewed at Hospital Rock. Trails from the foothills lead to Marble Falls and along the Middle Fork Kaweah River. There are more than 200 caves in the park along the Kaweah River and its various forks. Crystal Cave (N36º35’ W118º50’) along Yucca Creek offers tours, and Clough Cave (N36º21’ W118º46’) is at the park boundary on the South Fork Kaweah River. Trails at the South Fork lead to Garfield Grove and South Fork Grove of giant sequoias.

North of Potwisha (N36⁰31’ W118⁰48’), the Generals Highway climbs from the 2,000-foot to the 6,000-foot level at Giant Forest Village (N36º34’ W118º46’), where hiking trails wind through sequoia groves. The Giant Forest area contains 40 miles of trails through sequoia groves and includes the Congress National Recreation Trail and the General Sherman Tree (N36º35’ W118º45’). In summer shuttles link the giant forest museum with parking areas at Lodgepole and Wolverton, and with the Wuksachi Lodge (N36⁰36’ W118⁰45’). In the winter a shorter modified trail system among the giant sequoias is also marked. Crescent Meadow (N36º33’ W118º45’) is known for corn lilies and is the beginning of the High Sierra Trail. Moro Rock (N36º33’ W118º46’) is a granite dome that overlooks sequoia groves. The High Sierra Trail leads 70 miles from Crescent Meadow to Mount Whitney in the park, passing Bearpaw Meadow (N36º34’ W118º37’), Chagoopa Plateau (N36º29’ W118º27’), Kern Canyon (N36º34’ W118º24’), Crabtree Meadow (N36º34’ W118º20’), and ending at Mount Whitney (N36º35’ W118º18’). In the roadless east of the park, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from the Golden Trout Wilderness boundary (N36º28’ W118º16’) north across the Bighorn Plateau to the Sequoia-Kings Canyon national park boundary at Forester Pass (N36º42’ W118º22’).

The seasonal road to Mineral King (N36º27’ W118º36’) follows the East Fork Kaweah River to a subalpine forested valley. This valley, Mineral King, is the finest example of alpine karst topography in the U.S., with over 30 caves, springs, and sinkholes. Trails lead to Crystal, Eagle, Franklin, and Monarch Lakes.

The North Fork Kern River within the park is part of the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Harrison Pass (N36º42’ W118º24’) downstream to the park boundary (N36º21’ W118º24’). Within the park, the East Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its source on White Chief Peak (N36º24’ W118º35’) to the park boundary (N36º26’ W118º46’), encompassing diverse features including the Great Western Divide, the glaciated Mineral King Valley, tufa deposits, soda springs, a deep granite canyon, and karst topography. The Marble Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Tableland (N36º38’ W118º38’) downstream to Potwisha (N36º31’ W118º48’). The river drops 8,000 feet in 15 miles. At Tokopah Falls (N36º37’ W118º42’), the river drops 1,500’ to the glacially carved Tokopah Valley and the Lodgepole developed area (N36º36’ W118º44’). Downstream at Marble Falls (N36º33’ W118º48’), there is another 1,000-foot drop. The Middle Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at the confluence of Lone Pine and Hamilton Creeks (N36º34’ W118º36’) downstream to Potwisha.  It begins in a U-shaped glaciated valley and then tumbles through a V-shaped slickrock gorge that is the deepest in the Sierra Nevada. The South Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters on the Hockett Plateau (N36º21’ W118º36’) downstream to the park boundary at Clough Cave.

Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, California, is 768,000 acres and includes most of the undeveloped areas of the two national parks. The northernmost point is at Glacier Divide in Kings Canyon National Park on the John Muir Wilderness boundary (N37º14’ W118º47’), the southernmost is at Coyote Peaks in Sequoia National Park on the Great Western Divide at the Golden Trout Wilderness boundary (N36º19’ W118º27’), the easternmost point is at Army Pass in Sequoia National Park (N36º30’ W118º14’), and the westernmost point is at Redwood Mountain Grove (N36º41’ W118º55’) in Kings Canyon National Park. Kings Canyon National Park is completely within the wilderness except the road to Zumwalt Meadows and the redwood groves north of Generals Highway. The wilderness includes glaciated Tehipite Valley on the Middle Fork Kings River (N36º55’ W118º47’). Barren alpine ridges and glacially scoured basins are in the east. The Pear Lake Winter Hut (N36º36’ W118º40’), operated by the Sequoia Natural History Association, is available for winter lodging from December to April via a six-mile trail from Wolverine. The High Sierra Trail leads 70 miles from Crescent Meadow to Mount Whitney in the park, passing Bearpaw Meadow (N36º34’ W118º37’), Chagoopa Plateau (N36º29’ W118º27’), Kern Canyon (N36º34’ W118º24’), Crabtree Meadow (N36º34’ W118º20’), and ending at Mount Whitney (N36º35’ W118º18’). The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from the Golden Trout Wilderness boundary (N36º28’ W118º16’) north across the Bighorn Plateau to the Sequoia-Kings Canyon national park boundary at Forester Pass (N36º42’ W118º22’), follows portions of both the Middle Fork and South Fork Kings River Wild Rivers, then leaves Kings Canyon National Park on the South Fork San Joaquin River (N37º14’ W118º50’) and enters the John Muir Wilderness

The headwaters of the South Fork San Joaquin, Middle and South Forks of Kings River, Kern River, and Kaweah River are within the wilderness. The North Fork Kern River within the wilderness is part of the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Harrison Pass (N36º42’ W118º24’) downstream to the wilderness boundary (N36º21’ W118º24’). The Middle Fork Kings River is designated as a wild and scenic river in the wilderness from the headwaters at Helen Lake (N37º7’ W118º40’) downstream to the Monarch Wilderness boundary. The South Fork Kings River is designated as a wild and scenic river in the wilderness from its headwaters at Upper Basin on the Pacific Crest Trail (N37º1’ W118º27’) downstream to Zumwalt Meadows. The Marble Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Tableland (N36º38’ W118º38’) downstream to Potwisha (N36º31’ W118º48’). The river drops 8,000 feet in 15 miles. At Tokopah Falls (N36º37’ W118º42’), the river drops 1,500’ to the glacially carved Tokopah Valley Downstream at Marble Falls (N36º33’ W118º48’), there is another 1,000-foot drop. The Middle Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at the confluence of Lone Pine and Hamilton Creeks (N36º34’ W118º36’) downstream to Potwisha.  It begins in a U-shaped glaciated valley and then tumbles through a V-shaped slickrock gorge that is the deepest in the Sierra Nevada. The South Fork San Joaquin River within the wilderness is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Martha Lake (N37º6’ W118º24’) downstream to the park boundary at John Muir Rock (N37º13’ W118º50’). The wilderness borders the John Muir Wilderness on the north, west, and east, the Golden Trout Wilderness and John Krebs Wilderness on the south, and the Monarch and Jennie Lakes Wildernesses on the west.

John Krebs Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, California, is 40,000 acres and extends from the road to Mineral King south to the South Fork Kaweah River and Clough Cave (N36º21’ W118º46’). It excludes Mineral King, Silver City and the small hydroelectric storage reservoirs of Monarch, Crystal, Franklin, and Eagle Lakes. It includes the Timber Gap area (N36º28’ W118º36’) to the north of Mineral King, the Eden Creek Grove, Homers Nose (N36º23’ W118º44’), and Old Hockett Trail. Elevations range from 3,400 feet in chaparral and blue oak vegetation to 12,400 feet in alpine vegetation. Within the wilderness, the East Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its source on White Chief Peak (N36º24’ W118º35’) to the park boundary (N36º26’ W118º46’), encompassing diverse features including the Great Western Divide, the glaciated Mineral King Valley, tufa deposits, soda springs, a deep granite canyon, and karst topography. The South Fork Kaweah River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system within the wilderness, which includes the portion downstream of the Hockett Plateau to the park boundary at Clough Cave. In the wilderness the river is a steep granite canyon. The wilderness borders the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness on the north and the Golden Trout Wilderness on the southeast.

National Historic Landmarks

Walker Pass, Kiavah and Owens Peak Wildernesses and National System of Public Lands, California (N35º40’ W118º2’) is on State Route 178. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail crosses the landmark, whose boundaries include mountain peaks immediately to the north and south of the actual pass and include lands managed by the BLM and Forest Service. The 5,245-foot pass was crossed by Joseph Walker in 1834, on the return journey of the Bonneville expedition that began in 1830 at Fort Osage, near present-day Kansas City. The expedition went from Fort Osage to the Green River fur trade rendezvous point (present-day Wyoming), then across the Great Salt Lake and Humboldt River to the Sierra Nevada. It crossed into California near Yosemite Valley, then exited through Walker Pass. Later, in 1843, Walker led the first emigrant group into California through Walker Pass, and in 1845, Walker led the John C. Fremont military mapping expedition into California through the pass. These actions by Walker contributed significantly to the exploration and settlement of California. Walker was the most active and long-lived of the explorers and guides in the 19th century. He continued to explore the West until the 1860s (Rudo, 1989).

National Forest System

Giant Sequoia National Monument

Giant Sequoia National Monument, California, is 328,000 acres, surrounding 33 groves of giant sequoias. It is made up of two units, one to the south of Sequoia National Park and one to the north of Sequoia National Park and west of Kings Canyon National Park. The monument includes half of all the known groves. In addition, there are granite monoliths, glacier-carved canyons, limestone caverns, and whitewater rivers. The northwesternmost point of the north unit is at Mill Flat on the Kings River (N36º51’ W119º6’), the northeasternmost point is on the Kings River at the Kings Canyon National Park boundary (N36º48’ W118º42’), and the southernmost point is on the North Fork Kaweah River (N36º37’ W118º54’). On the north unit, the Boole tree (N36º49’ W118º57’) in the Converse Basin is the largest tree on national forest system land, while the nearby Chicago Stump (N36º48’ W118º59’), cut in 1893, may have been the largest tree ever known. Nearby is the accessible Indian Basin Grove (N36º49’ W118º56’). Both are on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway (State Route 180) north of Grant Grove. The highway climbs 4,000 feet to reach the Grant Grove of sequoias, then descends 2,700 feet into Kings Canyon and passes Boyden Cave and a waterfall. The Windy Gulch Geologic Area (N36º48’ W118º50’) includes Boyden Cave and the Evans Grove of giant sequoias. The portion of Monarch Wilderness south of Kings Canyon (described separately) is in the monument. The Generals Highway passes through the national monument as it runs between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Off the highway is Hume Lake (N36º47’ W118º54’), now a recreation lake and formerly a mill pond created by a lumber company in 1908. The dam was the first concrete-reinforced multiple arch dam completed in the U.S. Buck Rock Lookout (N36º44’ W118º52’) provides views of Kings Canyon below.

On the south unit, the southernmost grove, Deer Creek (N35º52’ W118º36’), is east of California Hot Springs. The northernmost point is near Upper Grouse Valley (N36º18’ W118º49’), the southernmost point is at Sunday Peak in the Greenhorn Mountains (N35º47’ W118º35’), and the eastern end is at the Forks of the Kern (junction of the North Fork Kern and Little Kern Rivers (N36º8’ W118º26’)). Accessible sequoia groves are the Belknap Complex of Groves (N36º8’ W118º36’) east of Camp Nelson, Long Meadow Grove and the Trail of 100 Giants (N35º59’ W118º36’) on the Western Divide Highway, and Freeman Creek Botanical Area (N36º9’ W118º31’), 4,200 acres centered on the Freeman Creek grove of giant sequoias. It contains the named George H.W. Bush tree. The Needles (N36º7’ W118º29’) is a granite rock formation which overlooks the Kern River canyon. Dome Rock (N36º4’ W118º32’) is another granite monolith along the Western Divide Highway. The eastern area of the monument around Lloyd Meadow (N36º9’ W118º29’) provides views into Kern Canyon, as well as granite formations and giant sequoia groves. Moses Mountain Research Natural Area (N36º17’ W118º40’) is managed for the study of giant sequoias in a natural setting. It extends into the Golden Trout Wilderness to the east of the national monument. South Mountaineer Creek Research Natural Area (N36º12’ W118º36’) is a red fir forest also shared with the Golden Trout Wilderness. Slate Mountain Botanical Area (N36º6’ W118º35’) is 500 acres managed for the Twisselmann’s buckwheat plant.

Kings River Special Areas

Kings River Special Management Area, Sequoia National Monument and Sierra National Forest, California, is 49,000 acres and protects the 8,000-foot-deep Kings Canyon, and extends from its easternmost point at Horseshoe Bend on State Route 180 on the South Fork Kings River (N36º49’ W118º50’) to the confluence with the North Fork Kings River and to the ridges overlooking the canyon. The southernmost portion is south of Sampson Flat (N36º46’ W119º5’), the northwestern portion is on the North Fork Kings River at Rodgers Ridge (N36º53’ W119º7’), and the northeasternmost portion is at Spanish Mountain (N36º55’ W118º55’). There is a wild trout fishery in the Kings River, and the Boole giant sequoia tree (N36º49’ W118º57’) is in the area. The Kings River National Recreation Trail traverses the area.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest, California, is 1.1 million acres including 328,000 acres of the Giant Sequoia National Monument and the Domeland, Golden Trout Jennie Lake, Kiavah, Monarch, and South Sierra Wilderness Areas. The southernmost portions of the Sierra Nevada forests ecoregion is in the forest, which also is in the chaparral ecoregions to the south and west. Kiavah Wilderness is in the Mojave Desert ecoregion. The Kern Plateau is a high-elevation area, while the Upper Kern River above Lake Isabella and the Lower Kern below Lake Isabella are whitewater recreational rivers. National Recreation Trails include Cannell Meadows, Jackass Creek, and Summit. Bald Mountain Botanical Area (N36º1’ W118º15’) is protected for a rare Horkelia species, along with five pines and two fir species. Baker Point Botanical Area (N35º51’ W118º30’) is 780 acres overlooking the Kern River canyon. This granite bedrock peak supports rare plants. Ernest C. Twisselmann Botanical Area (N35º55’ W118º20’) is 860 acres on Sirretta Peak which supports foxtail,  limber, white, Jeffrey, and lodgepole pine at southern limits of the Sierra Nevada.Packsaddle Cave Geological Area (N35º56’ W118º28’) is a limestone cave in the Kern River watershed north of Kernville.

The North Fork Kern Wild and Scenic River flows through the forest in Golden Trout Wilderness and outside the wilderness from Forks of the Kern (N36º8’ W118º26’) to the Tulare-Kern County line (N35º48’ W118º27’). The Kern River in the forest is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system downstream from Isabella Lake for 13 miles between Borel Powerhouse (N35º35’ W118º32’) and Democrat Hot Springs (N35º32’ W118º40’). This section is the only section downstream from the reservoir that maintains flow; the rest is diverted for hydropower uses.

 

Sierra Nevada Forests, Part 3D: Trails and Wilderness Areas of the Yosemite Vicinity

 

National Trails System

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail extends 2,600 miles from Canada to Mexico, passing through some of the most scenic areas in California. The Sierra Nevada section provides a tour of wilderness areas.

In the Ansel Adams Wilderness, the trail passes Devils Postpile National Monument (N37º38’ W119º5’), Agnew Meadows in the Inyo National Forest (N37º41’ W119º5’), Island Pass, and then enters Yosemite National Park at Donohue Pass (N37º46’ W119º15’). The trail traverses an extensive area of the eastern Yosemite Wilderness, passes Tioga Road at Tuolumne Meadows (N37º53’ W119º21’), and enters the Hoover Wilderness at Dorothy Lake Pass (N38º11’ W119º35’). In the Hoover Wilderness, the trail passes a small portion of the wilderness and exits at Kennedy Canyon (N38º15’ W119º36’). In the Emigrant Wilderness, the trail follows the eastern boundary and weaves in and out of the Toiyabe National Forest, descending to Sonora Pass on State Route 108 (N38º20’ W119º38’). The trail then continues north in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness and the Toiyabe National Forest, crossing Ebbetts Pass on State Route 4 (N38º33’ W119º49’). The trail crosses the Mokelumne Wilderness and Toiyabe National Forest on the way to Carson Pass and the State Route 88 crossing (N38º42’ W119º59’) on the Eldorado National Forest.

National Recreation Trails of the Sierra Nevada

Black Point National Recreation Trail (NRT), Sierra NF (N37º14’ W119º16’), is west of Huntington Lake. This 0.6-mile trail to a mountain top is at the edge of the Kaiser Wilderness and offers scenic views of the lake and San Joaquin River canyon.

Columns of the Giants NRT, Stanislaus NF (N38º20’ W119º48’). Unique columnar basalt in the form of pentagonal and hexagonal columns reaches for the sky, located on Route 108 east of Dardanelle at the Pigeon Flat Campground. The 0.25-mile trail goes to the site overlooking the Middle Fork Stanislaus River.

Kings River NRT, Kings River Special Management Area, Sierra NF, California (N36º52’ W119º2’), extends upriver from the Garnet Dike Campground seven miles east of Pine Flat Reservoir. The trail follows the Kings River for three miles, passing waterfalls, rapids and granite formations.

Lewis Creek NRT, Sierra NF, California (N37º26’ W119º38’), is a hiking and mountain biking trail between Oakhurst and the Yosemite National Park boundary leading past two waterfalls, Corlieu and Red Rock Falls. The trailhead is on State Route 41.

Pinecrest Lake NRT, Stanislaus NF, California (N38º12’ W119º59’), is a four-mile trail encircling Pinecrest Lake, created on the South Fork Stanislaus River, on Route 108.

Rancheria Falls NRT, Sierra NF, California (N37º15’ W119º8’) is a one-mile trail east of Huntington Lake ending at a 150-foot waterfall. The trailhead is off of State Route 168.

Shadow of the Giants NRT, Sierra NF, California (N37º26’ W119º35’), is a one-mile trail through the Nelder Grove of giant sequoias four miles south of Yosemite National Park.

Whitney Portal NRT, Inyo NF, California (N36º36’ W118º12’), extends four miles from Mount Whitney trailhead downhill to Lone Pine Campground, and is noted for granite boulders and views of the Alabama Hills. Access is on Whitney Portal Road four miles west of US Route 395 at Lone Pine.

National Wild and Scenic River System

Kings River, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sierra National Forests, California, is a designated as a wild and scenic river from the confluence of the Middle and North Fork (N36º50’ W118º53’) downstream to Garlic Falls (N36º52’ W118º57’), a distance of five miles. This is a whitewater river through the second deepest canyon in North America.

Merced River, National System of Public Lands, Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests, and Yosemite National Park, California is designated a wild river from its source on Mount Lyell to Briceburg (N37º36’ W119º58’), including glacially carved Yosemite Valley, one of the world’s most iconic landscapes. The mid-elevation meadow-riparian complex in Yosemite Valley is the largest in the Sierra Nevada. The river drops 2,000 feet over 14 miles upstream from Yosemite Valley. At the east end of Yosemite Valley is the Giant Staircase (N37º44’ W119º33’), made up of Nevada and Vernal Fall, the finest example of stair-step river morphology. Above Nevada Fall, Merced Canyon (Little Yosemite Valley) is a textbook glacially carved canyon (N37º44’ W119º30’).  There are four source streams that are included in the designation. Red Peak Fork (N37º40’ W119º23’), Merced Peak Fork (N37º39’ W119º23’), and Triple Peak Fork (N37º38’ W119º20’) confluence from the south, and Lyell Fork (N37º44’ W119º16’) enters from the east (National Park Service 2014a). From its source to El Portal (N37º40’ W119º49’)(the Yosemite National Park portion), the river flows through a conifer forest. Between El Portal and Briceburg, the vegetation is pine-oak savannah and chaparral. The section from Briceburg to Lake McClure (N37º36’ W120º6’) is considered eligible for the wild and scenic river system. The river in the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests contains five outstandingly remarkable values (USDA, FS 2015):

  • Geology: contact between metasedimentary and granitic rock
  • Vegetation: four state-listed rare and endangered plants
  • Wildlife: threatened salamander habitat
  • Recreation: white water rafting, camping and hiking
  • Cultural: old Yosemite railroad and mining sites

South Fork Merced River, Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park, California, is a designated wild and scenic river from its source at Chain Lakes (N37º34’ W119º24’) for 40 miles downstream to its confluence with the Merced River (N37º39’ W119º53’). It begins in Yosemite National Forest, flows along the park boundary with the Sierra National Forest (N37º32’ W119º31’), re-enters the park (N37º32’ W119º35’) and flows through Wawona, then re-enters Sierra National Forest (N37º35’ W119º42’) for its last 18 miles to the confluence with the Merced. From Wawona downstream, the South Fork provides habitat for the Sierra sweetbay (Myrica hartwegii) (National Park Service 2014a). The river contains five outstandingly remarkable values (USDA forest service 2015).

  • Recreation: fishing, nature study, white water rafting
  • Geology: oldest gold-bearing rocks
  • Wildlife: riparian dependent wildlife and rare limestone salamander
  • Fisheries: habitat for native fish
  • Botany: four state-listed rare plants

Owens River Headwaters, Owens River Headwaters Wilderness and Inyo National Forest, California, wild and scenic river designation includes a small section of the Owens River downstream from Big Spring (N37º45’ W118º56’), Glass Creek from its source (N37º44’ W119º5’) to its confluence with Deadman Creek (N37º45’ W118º59’), and Deadman Creek from its source on San Joaquin Mountain (N37º43’ W119º6’) to Big Spring. There are 19 miles in the national wild and scenic river system.

Tuolumne River, Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, California, is one of the most challenging river runs in California, 83 miles of which are designated as a wild and scenic river. The Stanislaus portion extends from the boundary with Yosemite National Park at River Mile 111 (N37º54’ W119º52’) downstream 30 miles to the confluence with the North Fork Tuolumne River (N37º53’ W120º16’). This is the section used for river runs (USDA Forest Service 1988) and also contains Preston Falls Trail (N37º53’ W119º55’). The Yosemite National Park designation contains two sections of the Tuolumne River, as well as Dana Fork and Lyell Fork upstream of Tuolumne Meadows. The Tuolumne River is designated from Tuolumne Meadows (N37º45’ W119º21’) 23 miles downstream to the upper end of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (N37º55’ W119º39’). This section contains the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, a series of cascades, granite escarpments, and hanging valleys. An additional six miles are designated from O’Shaughnessy Dam (N37º57’ W119º47’) downstream to the Stanislaus National Forest boundary at River Mile 111. This segment contains Poopenaut Valley (N37º56’ W119º49’), which contains rare wet meadows and wetland habitats at lower elevations than is typical of the Sierra Nevada.  Dana Fork is designated from its headwaters near Mount Gibbs (N37º53’ W119º13’) seven miles downstream to Tuolumne Meadows and Lyell Fork is designated from its headwaters near Donohue Pass (N37º45’ W119º16’) 11 miles downstream to Tuolumne Meadows. The meadows at Tuolumne, Dana Fork and Lyell Fork are one of the largest complex of subalpine meadows in the Sierra Nevada. The Parsons Memorial Lodge National Historic Landmark (described separately) is within the wild and scenic rivers boundary at Tuolumne Meadows (National Park Service 2014b).

National Wilderness Preservation System

The areas that make up the National Wilderness Preservation System include some of the oldest and largest areas in the wilderness system. Yosemite Wilderness is described under World Heritage Sites. The John Krebs Wilderness and Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness areas are described under Man and the Biosphere Reserves.

Ansel Adams Wilderness, Inyo and Sierra National Forests and Devils Postpile National Monument, California, is 231,600 acres. The north end is in Lee Vining Canyon south of Tioga Pass Road (N37º56’ W119º12’), the southeast end is near Mono Hot Springs (N37º19’ W119º2’), the southwest end is at Hells Half Acre on the San Joaquin River (N37º24’ W119º16’), the west end is at Chiquito Lake (N37º32’ W119º26’), and the east end is at Mammoth Pass (N37º37’ W119º2’). The Minarets (N37º40’ W119º11’) are along a 12,000-foot ridge which is considered the most spectacular of the Sierra Nevada peaks. Other places in the wilderness include Bloody Canyon (N37º52’ W119º11’), Thousand Island Lake (N37º43’ W119º11’), Granite Stairway (N37º36’ W119º8’), Balloon Dome (N37º28’ W119º14’), Devils Table (N37º20’ W119º2’), Arch Rock (N37º27’ W119º4’), Heitz Meadow  (N37º27’ W119º9’), Junction Butte (N37º32’ W119º12’), Detachment Meadow (N37º36’ W119º16’), Madera Peak (N37º 32’ W119º22’), Sadler Peak (N37º 38’ W119º16’), and Red Top Mountain (N37º38’ W119º8’). Dana Plateau (N37º55’ W119º13’) in the wilderness is considered eligible for national natural landmark status.

In the Ansel Adams Wilderness, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail passes Devils Postpile National Monument (N37º38’ W119º5’), Agnew Meadows in the Inyo National Forest (N37º41’ W119º5’), Island Pass, and then enters Yosemite National Park at Donohue Pass (N37º46’ W119º15’). Crater Lake Meadow Geological Area (N37º24’ W119º9’), is partially in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The San Joaquin River in the wilderness is eligible for the wild and scenic river system from Mammoth Pool Reservoir (N37º23’ W119º16) 14 miles upstream to the confluence of the Middle and North Fork (N37º32’ W119º11’). The river flows through a 2,000-foot-deep gorge, includes waterfalls, and passes granite domes. The North Fork San Joaquin River in the wilderness is eligible for the wild and scenic river system from its headwaters at Twin Lakes (N37º42’ W119º14’) downstream 14 miles to its confluence with the San Joaquin River; it passes through a deep, narrow canyon for much of its length. The Middle Fork San Joaquin River is eligible for the wild and scenic rivers system from its headwaters near Thousand Island Lake (N37º43’ W119º11’) for 22 miles downstream to its confluence with the San Joaquin River (N37º32’ W119º11’). The river passes out of the wilderness to enter the Inyo National Forest and Devils Postpile National Monument at Rainbow Falls (N37º36’ W119º5’). The Middle Fork San Joaquin is noted for its spectacular domes and evidence of volcanic activity. In the northern part of the wilderness west of June Lake Loop, Waugh (Rush Meadows) Reservoir (N37º45’ W119º11’) and Gem Reservoir (N37º45’ W119º9’) are within the wilderness. These are part of the Rush Creek Hydroelectric Project of Southern California Edison.

Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, Stanislaus and Toiyabe National Forests, California, is 161,000 acres, with 12 peaks above 10,000 feet and 200 miles of trails, located between State Routes 4 and 108. Volcanic ridges and peaks including The Iceberg (N38º25’ W119º45’) and The Dardanelles (N38º24’ W119º45’), are found in the wilderness.  On the southeast boundary, Sonora Peak reaches 11,459 feet. The Iceberg is visible from the end of Clarks Fork Road. Deep canyons drain to the Stanislaus and Carson Rivers. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from the East Fork Carson River headwaters on Sonora Peak (N38º22’ W119º38’) to north of Wolf Creek Pass (N38º30’ W119º46’), passing Boulder Peak along the way. The East Fork Carson River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system for 27 miles from its source (N38º22’ W119º38’) to the Silver King Valley (N38º33’ W119º38’). Carson Falls is included in this river reach. Other sites showing the extent of the wilderness are Wolf Creek Lake in the north (N38º36’ W119º40’), Clark Fork Meadow and St. Marys Pass (N38º21’ W119º39’) in the south, Donnell Lake and the Middle Fork Stanislaus River (N38º20’ W119º58’) in the southwest, Rose Meadow near Lake Alpine (N38º28’ W120º0’) in the west, Antelope Peak (N38º28’ W119º33’) in the east, and the Elephant Rock (N38º27’ W119º58’). Access points from the Stanislaus National Forest include Iceberg Meadow at The Iceberg, Clark Fork Campground (N38º24’ W119º48’), and Tryon Meadow on Highland Lake Road (N38º30’ W119º48’). From the Toiyabe National Forest, Rodriquez Flat (N38º31’ W119º33’) and Wolf Creek Meadows (N38º35’ W119º42’) provide trail access. Silver King Creek (N38º28’ W119º36’) in the Toiyabe section is considered a potential National Natural Landmark.

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, California, is 30,000 acres to the west and south of the John Muir Wilderness. There are 16 lakes including First Dinkey Lake (N37º10’ W119º4’). The wilderness is noted for mountain meadows amid the white fir, red fir, and Jeffrey pine forests, along with granite outcroppings. The highest point, Three Sisters Peak (N37º8’ W119º4’), reaches 10,600 feet in elevation. The north end is west of Mount Givens (N37º16’ W119º4’) and the south end is at Eagle Peak (N37º5’ W119º1’) west of Courtright Reservoir. Other places in the wilderness are Lakecamp Meadow (N37º14’ W119º4’), Hot Springs Pass (N37º12’ W119º0’), and Helms Meadow (N37º9’ W119º0’).

Emigrant Wilderness, Stanislaus National Forest, California, is 112,700 acres. Characterized by volcanic ridges and peaks in the high Sierra, the area drains into the Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers and includes the Walker River-Sonora emigrant trails to California. The scenic glaciated landscape includes 200 miles of trails. The wilderness borders the Hoover Wilderness on the east and Yosemite Wilderness on the south. The southernmost point is near Cherry Lake (N38º2’ W119º55’), the westernmost point is near Hells Mountain (N38º4’ W119º55’), the easternmost point is near Bond Pass (N38º11’ W119º36’), and the northernmost point is near Chipmonk Flat on State Route 108 (N38º19’ W119º41’). The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail follows the eastern boundary (N38º16’ W119º38’) around Leavitt Peak and Leavitt Lake. Kennedy Creek is eligible for the national wild and scenic rivers system from its headwaters (N38º14’ W119º37’) downstream to the wilderness boundary and Middle Fork Stanislaus River (N38º18’ W119º44’). The California National Historic Trail, Walker River-Sonora Route, traverses the wilderness. Sites include Little Emigrant Valley (N38º12’ W119º39’), Hubbs Grave Site (N38º14’ W119º43’), Relief Camp (N38º14’ W119º45’), and Burst Rock (N38º12’ W119º52’).

Hoover Wilderness, Inyo and Toiyabe National Forests and Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, California, is a 124,500-acre region of alpine lakes and meadows adjacent to Yosemite NP. It extends from 300-foot Leavitt Falls (N38º19’ W119º34’) in the north to the Twenty Lakes Basin (N37º59’ W119º18’) in the south. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses a small portion of the wilderness from Dorothy Lake Pass (N38º11’ W119º35’) to Kennedy Canyon (N38º15’ W119º36’). Sites in the Toiyabe portion include Kennedy Canyon and Tower Canyon in the West Walker River drainage, Virginia Lakes,Green Creek, Barney Lake, Peeler Lake, and Little Slide Canyon. Sites in the Inyo portion include Lundy Canyon, Tioga Peak, and Twenty Lakes Basin. Mono Dome is in the Mono Lakes National Scenic Area portion. Rainbow Meadows Research Natural Area (N38º9’ W119º31’) is a 1,500-acre area of subalpine white bark pine and pristine alpine habitats in the West Walker River headwaters near Hawksbeak Peak, adjoining Yosemite NP. Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area (N37º58’ W119º18’) is 3,900 acres of alpine meadow and subalpine forest north of Tioga Pass on the Yosemite National Park boundary. The West Walker River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters (N38º10’ W119º33’) downstream to Leavitt Meadows (N38º18’ W119º33’) in the wilderness. The Walker River-Sonora Route of the California National Historic Trail crosses the wilderness from Leavitt Meadow (N38º20’ W119º33’) to Fremont Lake (N38º15’ W119º33’).

Kaiser Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, California, is 22,000 acres of red fir and Jeffrey pine forests with 18 small lakes, located to the west of Huntington Lake. A limestone area within the wilderness is home to caves and unique plant species such as moonwort ferns, which grow at meadow edges (Sierra NF Assessment). Places in the wilderness include Black Point (N37º14’ W119º16’), College Rock (N37º16’ W119º10’), Kaiser Peak Meadow (N37º19’ W119º7’), and Horsethief Lakes (N37º17’ W119º16’). Home Camp Creek proposed Research Natural Area (N37º15’ W119º15’) is 1,200 acres northwest of Huntington Lake and contains late seral white fir populations.

Monarch Wilderness, Sequoia National Forest, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sierra National Forest, California, is 44,900 acres, with elevations ranging from 2,000 feet on the South Fork Kings River to 11,000 feet at Hogback Peak. It is divided into two sections by the Kings River and State Route 180. This area includes rugged mountains and multicolored rock formations to the west of Kings Canyon NP that are vegetated with chaparral and pine. In the south section are Agnew Grove (N36º47’ W118º47’), Yucca Point (N36º50’ W118º52’), and Windy Cliffs (N36º49’ W118º49’), along with trail access. The Kanawyer Trail provides views into Kings Canyon. The northern section is accessed by Deer Cove Trail which winds to Grizzly Lakes and Wildman Meadow (N36º50’ W118º42’). Other sites in the northern section are Mount Harrington (N36º52’ W118º44’), Little Tehipite Valley (N36º53’ W118º48’), and Deer Canyon (N36º52’ W118º53’). The Middle Fork Kings River Wild River bisects the wilderness from the confluence with the South Fork (N36º50’ W118º53’) upstream to the Kings Canyon National Park boundary (N36º53’ W118º48’). The South Fork Kings River Wild and Scenic River forms the southern border, then bisects the wilderness from the confluence with the Middle Fork upstream to Kings Canyon National Park boundary (N36º48’ W118º42’). The wilderness borders the John Muir wilderness on the northwest and the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness on the north and east. The Windy Gulch Geologic Area (N36º48’ W118º50’) is partially in the wilderness and partially in Sequoia National Monument. It includes Boyden Cave and the Evans Grove of giant sequoias.

John Krebs Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, California, is 40,000 acres and extends from the road to Mineral King south to the South Fork Kaweah River and Clough Cave (N36º21’ W118º46’). Highlights of the John Krebs Wilderness were described under the Man and the Biosphere Reserves entry.

John Muir Wilderness, Inyo and Sierra National Forests and National System of Public Lands, California, is a 652,000-acre area extending for 100 miles north to south and including 590 miles of trails.  It is known for snowcapped mountains with glacially carved lakes. The northernmost point is near Mammoth Lakes and Long Valley (N37º37’ W118º54’), the northwesternmost point is on the Middle Fork San Joaquin River in the Sierra National Forest (N37º33’ W119º8’), the southwestern end is at Geraldine Lakes (N36º55’ W118º53’), the southernmost point is near Cottonwood Pass (N36º28’ W118º13’), and the southeasternmost point is at Carroll Creek near Wononga Peak (N36º30’ W118º7’). The wilderness borders the Golden Trout Wilderness on the south, the Ansel Adams Wilderness on the north, and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness on the northwest. It is to the east, north, and northwest of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness.

Much of the wilderness is in a narrow one- to five-mile band along the eastern boundary of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks from Cottonwood Pass to Lake Sabrina (N37º13’ W118º37’); north of this point the wilderness surrounds the northern portion of Kings Canyon National Park. Trailheads in the narrow band on the eastern side of the Sierra Crest include Whitney Portal (N36º35’ W118º14’), Onion Valley (N36º46’ W118º20’), Oak Creek (N36º51’ W118º18’), Big Pine Creek (N37º7’ W118º27’), South Lake (N37º10’ W118º34’), Lake Sabrina, Pine Creek (N37º22’ W118º41’), Rock Creek Canyon (N37º27’ W118º44’), McGee Creek (N37º33’ W118º48’), Mammoth Lakes Basin (N37º36’ W119º0’), and Convict Lake (N37º35’ W118º52’). Whitney Portal is the beginning of the 11-mile hike to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. At the head of Big Pine Canyon, a dramatic glacier-carved canyon in the wilderness, is Palisades Glacier (N37º6’ W118º30’), the southernmost in the US. The California Bighorn Sheep Zoological area is 40,000 acres in two sections to the north and south of Onion Valley. Features of the zoological area include Mount Williamson (N36º39’ W118º19’) and Lookout Point (N36º54’ W118º19’). Other features of the wilderness are small partial sections of National System of Public Lands land to the north and south of Lone Pine Creek (N36º34’ W118º11’ and N36º40’ W118º14’), Lime Canyon (N36º46’ W118º18’), Spook Canyon (N36º W118º), Armstrong Canyon (N36º57’ W118º21’), Little Pine Creek (N37º7’ W118º22’), Table Mountain (N37º14’ W118º34’), and Wheeler Crest (N37º31’ W118º41’). Longley Reservoir (N37º17’ W118º40’), is on McGee Creek in the John Muir Wilderness. It is a storage reservoir for the Bishop Creek Hydroelectric System.

In the Sierra National Forest portions of the wilderness, features include Volcanic Cone (N36º59’ W118º50’), North Fork Kings River (N37º5’ W118º55’), Long Meadow (N37º8’ W118º55;), Rodeo Meadow (N37º11’ W119º1’), Rockhouse Meadow (N37º14’ W119º4’), White Bark Vista (N37º17’ W119º5’), and Mono Hot Springs (N37º19’ W119º1’). Florence Lake (N37º16’ W118º58’), a hydroelectric facility, is an exclusion area. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from the Kings Canyon National Park boundary on the South Fork San Joaquin River (N37º14’ W118º50’), north to Seldon Pass, Silver Pass, and Tully Hole, exiting at Crater Meadow (N37º35’ W119º3’). The wilderness largely surrounds the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness and borders the Monarch and Golden Trout wildernesses on the south. Courtright Intrusive Contact Zone Geological Area (N37º5’ W118º57’) is east of Courtright Dam in the Sierra National Forest on the John Muir Wilderness boundary. The South Fork San Joaquin River within the wilderness is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from the Kings Canyon National Park boundary (N37º13’ W118º50’) downstream for seven miles to Florence Lake hydroelectric project (N37º15’ W118º57’). This segment of the river is known for its granite domes and walls.

Owens River Headwaters Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, is 14,700 acres between Mammoth Lakes and June Lake, home to an old-growth red fir forest. Places in the wilderness include 9,700-foot Mount Downs (N37º47’ W119º3’), Glass Creek Meadows (N37º44’ W119º3’), Yost Lake (N37º45’ W119º6’), and Two Teats (N37º43’ W119º6’). Its western boundary is the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Glass Creek (N37º44’ W119º4’) and Deadman Creek (N37º43’ W119º4’) in the wilderness are part of the Owens River Headwaters National Wild and Scenic River designation.

Yosemite Wilderness, Yosemite National Park, California, is 704,600 acres, including 94 percent of the national park. Highlights of the Yosemite Wilderness were posted under the Yosemite World Heritage Site entry.

Other Federal Sites

Alabama Hills Recreation Area, National System of Public Lands, California (N37º37’ W118º8’) is 30,000 acres west of Lone Pine off of US Route 395. The site is off the road to Whitney Portal. Over 400 movies were filmed in the area. A trail to Mobius Arch is also featured.

State and Local Sites

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California, is 6,500 acres off of State Route 4 near Arnold.  The park includes the North Grove (N39º17’ W120º18’) and South Grove (N39º15’ W120º15’) of giant sequoias. The South Grove contains more than 1,000 large trees. Trails also lead to the Stanislaus River canyon and volcanic formations.

Crowley Lake, City of Los Angeles (N37º36’ W118º44’), is on the Owens River off of U.S. Route 395 between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop. Recreational facilities are privately operated.

Kinsman Flat Wildlife Area, California (N37º12’ W119º21’) is 512 acres of oak-pine forest overlooking the gorge of the San Joaquin River. It is surrounded by Sierra National Forest lands and is on Mammoth Pool Road.

The Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, of the UC Natural Reserve System is located on Convict Creek (N37º37’ W118º50’) in the Long Valley Caldera.

Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, Valentine Camp (N37º38’ W119º0’), University of California Natural Reserve System, is located on the south side of Mammoth Lakes. Public walks are offered in the summer.

Private Sites

California Caverns, Sierra Nevada Recreation Corporation, California (N38º12’ W120º31’) is on Cave City Road in Mountain Ranch. It is a state historic landmark mentioned in John Muir’s 1894 book, the Mountains of California.

Mercer Caverns, California (N38º9’ W120º29’) is a commercial cave on Sheep Ranch Road in Murphys (State Route 4). Formations include dogtooth spar crystals, helictites, flowstone, and rootsicles.

 

Sierra Nevada forests, Part 3C: Reservoirs of Yosemite Region

The review of the central Sierra Nevada ecoregion surrounding Yosemite National Park includes a paragraph on the other national park system unit and then continues with the reservoir systems, mostly used for hydroelectricity. The review continues next month with the national trail system and wilderness areas.

National Park System

Yosemite National Park, California, is described under World Heritage Sites. Devils Postpile National Monument, California (N37º38’ W119º5’), is known for its columnar basalt columns. It also contains 100-foot Rainbow Falls on the Middle Fork San Joaquin River. The Middle Fork San Joaquin River is eligible for the wild and scenic rivers system in the monument. Most of the monument outside of the Devils Postpile area is part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness, described separately. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the monument.

Reservoirs and Hydroelectric Power Projects

This section includes reservoirs federally authorized (hydroelectric projects), reservoirs located on federal lands, and reservoirs constructed by federal agencies. Because of the large number of hydroelectric developments in the Sierra Nevada, reservoirs are listed by river basin.

Kings River

Balch Afterbay, Pacific Gas & Electric, Sierra National Forest (N36º55’ W119º6’) receives water from Black Rock Reservoir (Balch Diversion Dam). Water from Balch Afterbay enters a tunnel which exits at Kings River Powerhouse on Pine Flat Lake (N36º55’ W119º10’).

Black Rock Reservoir (Balch Diversion Dam), Pacific Gas & Electric Company, California (N36º55’ W119º1’), is on the North Fork Kings River in the Sierra National Forest and receives water from the Haas Powerhouse. Water from Wishon Reservoir is diverted downstream into the Haas Tunnel, which transports water to the Haas Powerhouse above Black Rock Reservoir. Water from Black Rock Reservoir enters another tunnel which exits at the Balch Powerhouse on Balch Afterbay.

Courtright Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, California (N37º5’ W118º59’), is on Helms Creek, a tributary of the North Fork Kings River. Campgrounds are operated by the Sierra National Forest. John Muir Wilderness borders the reservoir on the east and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness borders it on the north. Courtright is the upper storage reservoir for the Helms Pumped Storage Project.

Wishon Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, California (N37º0’ W118º58’) is on the North Fork Kings River. Campgrounds are operated by the Sierra National Forest. John Muir Wilderness borders the reservoir on the east. At the upper end of Wishon is the Helms Powerhoure, capable of 1,212 MW of generation. The powerhouse is in a chamber 1,000 feet underground carved out of granite. Water from Wishon Reservoir is diverted to the Haas Powerhouse above Black Rock Reservoir.

Mono Basin

Rush Creek Hydroelectric Project of Southern California Edison consists of three reservoirs and a powerhouse on the June Lake Loop (State Route 168) within Inyo National Forest and Ansel Adams Wilderness. Waugh (Rush Meadows) Reservoir (N37º45’ W119º11’) and Gem Reservoir (N37º45’ W119º9’) are storage reservoirs within the wilderness, while Agnew Reservoir (N37º45’ W119º8’) feeds the penstock and powerhouse outside of the wilderness (Diamond and Hicks, 1988). Downstream of the powerhouse, Grant Lake, City of Los Angeles (N37º51’ W119º7’), diverts water to the Owens River watershed for eventual diversion to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Lee Vining Creek  Project of Southern California Edison consists of three reservoirs and a powerhouse along Tioga Pass Road (State Route 120) in Inyo National Forest. Saddlebag Reservoir (N37º58’ W119º17’) and Tioga Reservoir (N37º55’ W119º15’) serve as storage for Ellery (Rhinedollar) Reservoir (N37º56’ W119º14’), where water is diverted to a penstock and power is generated at Poole Powerhouse (N37º57’ W119º13’).

Lundy Reservoir, Southern California Edison (N38º2’ W119º14’) is on Mill Creek in the northern edge of Inyo National Forest. Hoover Wilderness borders the reservoir.

Owens River

The Bishop Creek Hydroelectric System of Southern California Edison is within John Muir Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, and the National System of Public Lands, as well as private and City of Los Angeles lands. It consists of reservoirs, diversion dams, and powerhouses, which have their own dams and intakes. On the South Fork Bishop Creek, South Reservoir (N37º10’ W118º34’) provides water storage. The storage is supplemented by water from Bluff Reservoir (N37º11’ W118º33’), which is on Green Creek, a tributary to South Fork Bishop Creek. Water is released from South Reservoir, passes a Weir Lake, then is diverted at the South Fork Diversion Dam (N37º14’ W118º34’) to Intake 2 Reservoir (N37º15’ W118º35’) on the Middle Fork Bishop Creek. On the Middle Fork Bishop Creek, water is also released from Sabrina Reservoir (N37º13’ W118º37’) to Intake 2 Reservoir. Intake 2 Reservoir diverts water to the Second Powerhouse (N37º16’ W118º34’).

Water is also diverted to the Second Powerhouse from storage in Longley Reservoir (N37º17’ W118º40’) on McGee Creek. Downstream from Longley Reservoir, McGee Creek Diversion Dam (N37º17’ W118º38’), Birch Creek Diversion Dam (N37º17’ W118º37’), and East Fork Birch Creek Diversion Dam (N37º16’ W118º36’) also divert water to the 2nd Powerhouse. Below the second powerhouse, another diversion dam sends water to the 3rd Powerhouse (N37º18’ W118º32’), and in turn another diversion sends water to the 4th Powerhouse (N37º19’ W118º30’), then to the 5th Powerhouse (N37º20’ W118º29’) and finally to the 6th Powerhouse (N37º21’ W118º28’) just west of the city of Bishop (Taylor, 1994).

Bluff Reservoir, Southern California Edison (N37º11’ W118º33’), is on Green Creek, a tributary to South Fork Bishop Creek, in the Inyo National Forest. Water is diverted from Green Creek to South Reservoir for hydroelectric storage as part of the Bishop Creek Hydroelectric System.

Longley Reservoir, Southern California Edison (N37º17’ W118º40’), is on McGee Creek in the John Muir Wilderness. It is a storage reservoir for the Bishop Creek Hydroelectric System.

Sabrina Reservoir, Southern California Edison (N37º13’ W118º37’), is on Middle Fork Bishop Creek in the Inyo National Forest. It borders the John Muir Wilderness.

South Reservoir (Hillside Reservoir), Southern California Edison (N37º10’ W118º34’), is on South Fork Bishop Creek in the Inyo National Forest and is used as a storage reservoir for the Bishop Creek Hydroelectric System.

 

 San Joaquin River

The Big Creek Hydroelectric Development of Southern California Edison is accessed from State Route 168 and consists of multiple reservoirs and tunnels in the Sierra National Forest. The complex system is on the South Fork San Joaquin River, San Joaquin River, and Big Creek, all of which are near SR 168. The uppermost reservoirs are on the South Fork San Joaquin River and tributaries. Florence Lake (N37º16’ W118º58’) is on the South Fork San Joaquin River. Its water is supplemented by a diversion dam on Hooper Creek (N37º18’ W118º57’). Water from Florence Lake is diverted into the Ward Tunnel. Water from Chinquapin (N37º18’ W119º1’), Camp 62 (N37º18’ W119º2’), and Bolsillo (N37º19’ W119º2’) Creeks is also diverted to the Ward Tunnel. Lake Thomas A. Edison (N37º23’ W118º59’)) receives water from Mono Creek and Warm Creek. The Mono Creek Diversion Dam (N37º21’ W119º0’) below Lake Thomas A. Edison and the Bear Creek Diversion Dam (N37º20’ W118º59’) divert water to the Mono-Bear Siphon, which also feeds the Ward Tunnel. Ward Tunnel passes the Portal Forebay (N37º19’ W119º4’), where it captures water from Camp 61 Creek, then exits the tunnel through Portal powerhouse at Huntington Lake (N37º14’ W119º12’).

Water from Huntington Lake (Big Creek Dam 3 Reservoir) may be diverted through three pathways. Tunnel 1 leads to a powerhouse above Big Creek Dam 4 Reservoir (N37º12’ W119º14’). Tunnel 7 delivers water to North Fork Stevenson Creek, a tributary of Shaver Lake, or as is usually the case, Tunnel 7 delivers water to Balsam Meadows Forebay (N37º10’ W119º15’). Tunnel 7 also receives diverted water from Pittman Creek (N37º12’ W119º13’). If sent to Balsam Meadows Forebay, the water passes through the Eastwood Powerhouse on Shaver Lake (N37º8’ W119º7’). Shaver Lake is operated as a pumped storage facility with Balsam Meadows Forebay, which is not on national forest lands.

Water from Shaver Lake is diverted through Tunnel 5 to a powerhouse on Big Creek Dam 5 reservoir (N37º12’ W119º18’). Big Creek Dam 5 reservoir also receives water via Tunnel 2 from Big Creek Dam 4 Reservoir. Water in Tunnel 2 is supplemented by water from Balsam Creek (N37º11’ W119º16’) and Ely Creek (N37º11’ W119º17’).

On the San Joaquin River is Mammoth Pool Reservoir (N37º20’ W119º19’). Water from Mammoth Pool is diverted to a powerhouse on Big Creek Dam 6 (N37º12’ W119º20’), which is on the San Joaquin River. Dam 6 also receives water from Big Creek Dam 5 reservoir. The powerhouse on Dam 6 also receives water diverted from Rock Creek (N37º16’ W119º20’) and Ross Creek (N37º14’ W119º21’).

Below Big Creek Dam 6, water is diverted through Tunnel 3 to Redinger Lake (N37º9’ W119º27’). Water from Redinger Reservoir is diverted to a powerhouse on the upper end of Kerckhoff Reservoir (N37º8’ W119º31’), which is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. Kerckoff Powerhouse (N37º6’ W119º33’) is just above Millerton Lake in the California interior chaparral and woodlands ecoregion. The major dams of the Big Creek hydroelectric project are listed below.

Balsam Meadow Forebay, Southern California Edison (N37º10’ W119º15’) is on West Fork Balsam Creek, a tributary of the San Joaquin River. It is a pumped storage reservoir operated in conjunction with Shaver Lake. It receives water from Huntington Lake.

Bear Creek Diversion Dam, Southern California Edison (N37º20’ W118º58’), is on Bear Creek in the Sierra National Forest, a tributary of the South Fork San Joaquin River. Water is diverted via tunnel to Huntington Lake, where power is generated.

Big Creek Dam 4, Southern California Edison (N37º12’ W119º14’), has a powerhouse that receives water from Huntington Lake for power generation. It is on Sierra National Forest land.

Big Creek Dam 5, Southern California Edison (N37º12’ W119º18’) receives water via tunnels from Big Creek Dam 4 and from Shaver Lake. It is on Sierra National Forest land.

Big Creek Dam 6, Southern California Edison (N37º12’ W119º20’), is on the San Joaquin River and receives water via tunnels from Big Creek Dam 5 and from Mammoth Pool Reservoir. It is on Sierra National Forest land.

Lake Thomas A. Edison (Vermillion Valley Dam), Southern California Edison (N37º23’ W118º59’), is on Mono Creek, a tributary to the South Fork San Joaquin River. It contains private resorts and campgrounds operated by Sierra National Forest. John Muir Wilderness borders the reservoir on the east and Ansel Adams Wilderness borders it on the west. Below Vermillion Valley Dam is Mono Creek Diversion Dam (N37º21’ W119º0’). Here, water from Lake Thomas A. Edison is diverted to Portal Powerhouse at the upper end of Huntington Lake. It is accessed from Forest Highway 80 (Kaiser Pass Road) from Huntington Lake.

Florence Lake, Southern California Edison (N37º16’ W118º58’), is on the South Fork San Joaquin River and contains private resorts and campgrounds operated by Sierra National Forest. It is accessed via Forest Highway 80 and Forest Road 7S01 from Huntington Lake. John Muir Wilderness surrounds the reservoir. Water from Florence Lake is diverted to the Portal Powerhouse at the upper end of Huntington Lake.

Huntington Lake (Big Creek Dam 3), Southern California Edison, California (N37º14’ W119º12’), is on Sheep Thief Creek, a tributary to the San Joaquin River, and contains private resorts and winter sports areas with campgrounds operated by Sierra National Forest. It is accessed by State Route 168.

Mammoth Pool Reservoir, Southern California Edison (N37º20’ W119º19’) is on the San Joaquin River in the Sierra National Forest. Ansel Adams Wilderness borders the reservoir on its north end. Water is diverted via tunnels to a powerhouse on Big Creek Dam 6.

Portal Forebay, Southern California Edison (N37º19’ W119º4’), is on Camp 61 Creek, a tributary to the San Joaquin River, and is part of the Big Creek Hydroelectric Development in Sierra National Forest. It is located along Kaiser Pass Road and contributes water to the hydroelectric tunnels leading to Huntington Lake.

Redinger Reservoir, Southern California Edison (N37º9’ W119º27’) is on the San Joaquin River in the Sierra National Forest and receives water from Big Creek Dam No. 6.

Shaver Lake, Southern California Edison, California (N37º8’ W119º17’) is on Stevenson Creek, a tributary of the San Joaquin River. Some Sierra National Forest land borders the reservoir. Access is provided by State Route 168. It receives water from Huntington Lake and pumped storage projects. Water from Shaver Lake is diverted to the Big Creek Hydroelectric facilities. The Museum of the Central Sierra is on reservoir lands donated by Southern California Edison.

Other dams on the San Joaquin River and tributaries include two hydroelectric projects operated by Pacific Gas & Electric, Crane Valley and Kerckhoff. The Crane Valley Hydroelectric Project consists of Chilkoot Lake, Browns Creek Diversion Dam, Bass Lake, San Joaquin Powerhouse No. 3 Forebay, Manzanita Lake, South Fork Willow Creek Diversion Dam, North Fork Willow Creek Diversion Dam, and Corrine Lake. On the North Fork Willow Creek in the Sierra National Forest is the Crane Valley Hydroelectric Development of Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The uppermost reservoir of this development is Chilkoot Lake (N37º25’ W119º29’), which is a storage reservoir. Downstream is the largest of the development, Bass Lake (N37º18’ W119º32’), formed by Crane Valley Dam. Supplemental water is diverted to Bass Lake from the Browns Creek Diversion Dam (N37º18’ W119º30’). From the powerhouse at Bass Lake, the water is diverted through tunnels to a forebay at San Joaquin No. 3 Powerhouse (N37º15’ W119º32’). The outflow from the powerhouse goes into Manzanita Lake (N37º15’ W119º31’). From Manzanita Lake water is diverted to the San Joaquin No. 2 Forebay (N37º12’ W119º30’), where additional power is generated. Water from San Joaquin No. 2 forebay is supplemented through diversion dams on the South Fork Willow Creek and North Fork Willow Creek (both N37º13’ W119º30’). From San Joaquin No. 2, water is sent to the San Joaquin No. 1A Powerhouse, which discharges into Corrine Lake (N37º10’ W119º30’). Water from Corrine Lake is sent through the A.G. Wishon powerhouse to the San Joaquin River (PGE 2006).

Bass Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric, California (N37º18’ W119º32’) is on the North Fork Willow Creek in the Sierra National Forest. N. Fork Willow is a San Joaquin River tributary. Recreation areas are operated by private marinas and the Sierra National Forest.

Kerckhoff Diversion Dam, Pacific Gas & Electric (N37º8’ W119º31’) is on the San Joaquin River in the Sierra National Forest and National System of Public Lands. Kerckoff Powerhouse (N37º6’ W119º33’) is just above Millerton Lake on the National System of Public Lands.

Manzanita Lake, Pacific Gas & Electric (N37º15’ W119º31’) is on the North Fork Willow Creek. Some Sierra National Forest land adjoins the reservoir.

Stanislaus River, Middle and South Forks

Beardsley Reservoir (N38º13’ W120º4’) and Beardsley Afterbay (N38º12’ W120º5’) are on the Middle Fork Stanislaus River in the Stanislaus National Forest and are operated by the Tri-Dam Project, a partnership of the South San Joaquin and Oakdale Irrigation Districts. It is reached from State Route 108 at Strawberry via Forest Highway 52.

Donnell Reservoir (N38º20’ W119º57’) is on the Middle Fork Stanislaus River in the Stanislaus National Forest and is operated by the Tri-Dam Project. It is visible from State Route 108. The reservoir adjoins the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.

Herring Creek Reservoir (N38º15’ W119º56’) is operated by the Stanislaus National Forest for recreation.

Lyons Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (N38º6’ W120º10’), is on the South Fork Stanislaus River in the Stanislaus National Forest off State Route 108. Water is diverted via the Tuolumne Ditch to Sullivan Creek, and power is generated at the Phoenix Reservoir Powerhouse (N38º0’ W120º19’) on Sullivan Creek near Sonora.

Pinecrest (Strawberry) Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (N38º12’ W119º59’) is on the South Fork Stanislaus River and accessed from State Route 108 in the Stanislaus National Forest. Water is diverted to the Spring Gap Powerhouse on the Middle Fork Stanislaus River for power generation. This reservoir is part of the Spring Gap-Stanislaus Hydroelectric Project.

Relief Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (N38º16’ W119º44’) is on Summit Creek in the Stanislaus National Forest headwaters of the Middle Fork Stanislaus River. It adjoins Emigrant Wilderness and provides supplemental water to downstream reservoirs. Power is generated at the Spring Gap Powerhouse and Stanislaus Powerhouse downstream from Beardsley Lake Afterbay. Relief Reservoir is part of the Spring Gap-Stanislaus Hydroelectric Project.

Sand Bar Dam, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (N38º11’ W120º9’) diverts water from the Middle Fork Stanislaus into a tunnel, which provides water to the Stanislaus Powerhouse (N38º8’ W120º22’) on New Melones Reservoir. Sand Bar Dam is part of the Spring Gap-Stanislaus Hydroelectric Project.

Spring Gap Dam and Powerhouse, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (N38º11’ W120º7’), on the Middle Fork Stanislaus River, receives water from the Pinecrest Lake Diversion on the South Fork Stanislaus River. Spring Gap Dam is part of the Spring Gap-Stanislaus Hydroelectric Project.

Stanislaus River, North Fork

Lake Alpine (N38º29’ W120º0’), Northern California Power Agency, is on Silver Creek adjacent to State Route 4 as well as the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.

Beaver Creek Diversion Dam, Calaveras County Water District (N38º14’ W120º7’), diverts water to McKays Point Reservoir for power generation.

Hunter’s Reservoir (N38º12’ W122º22’) is operated by the Utica Water and Power Authority. The dam stores water and diverts it into the Utica Canal, which crosses Stanislaus National Forest land on the way to Murphy’s Powerhouse along State Route 4 (N38º9’ W120º26’).

McKay’s Point Diversion Dam, Calaveras County Water District (N38º14’ W120º17’) is the entry point for an 8.5-mile tunnel to Collierville Powerhouse (N38º9’ W120º23’), where power is generated.

New Spicer Meadows Reservoir, Calaveras County Water District (N38º24’ W120º0’) is on Highland Creek and is used for storage. It is adjacent to Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.

North Fork Diversion Dam, Calaveras County Water District (N38º26’ W120º1’) sends water from the North Fork Stanislaus River to New Spicer Meadow Reservoir for storage.

Union Reservoir and Utica Reservoir, Northern California Power Agency (N38º26’ W120º0’) are the uppermost reservoirs on the North Fork Stanislaus River. Both release water to the North Fork Diversion Dam (N38º26’ W120º1’) of Calaveras County Water District.

Tuolumne River

Cherry Lake, City of San Francisco (N38º0’ W119º54’) is in the Stanislaus National Forest to the west of Yosemite National Park. Its water is supplemented with a tunnel from Lake Eleanor to the east. Hydroelectric power from Lake Eleanor and Cherry Lake water is generated at the 169-MW Holm Powerhouse (N37º54’ W119º58’) on Cherry Creek in the Stanislaus National Forest.

Lake Eleanor, City of San Francisco, California (N37º59’ W119º52’) is part of the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric development completed in 1918 by the City in the northwestern edge of Yosemite National Park. A tunnel to the west transfers some Lake Eleanor water to Cherry Lake for storage. Eleanor Creek is a tributary to Cherry Creek, which in turn is a tributary to the Tuolumne River. Hydroelectric power from Lake Eleanor and Cherry Lake water is generated at the 169-MW Holm Powerhouse (N37º54’ W119º58’) on Cherry Creek in the Stanislaus National Forest.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, City of San Francisco (N37º57’ W119º47’) is surrounded by Yosemite National Park and was the subject of one of the epic battles in environmental history. The Sierra Club fought to prevent the dam in the Tuolumne River canyon, but the dam and hydroelectric development by the City of San Francisco was authorized by Congress in 1913. The reservoir was completed in 1923. Hydroelectric power from the reservoir is generated at Kirkwood Powerhouse (N37º53’ W119º57’) on the Tuolumne River in the Stanislaus National Forest and at Moccasin Powerhouse (N37º49’ W120º18’) on the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct at the junction of State Routes 49 and 120 above Don Pedro Reservoir. The Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct continues to the San Francisco Bay area (Crystal Springs Reservoir) and provides drinking water to the metropolitan area.

 

Sierra Nevada Forests, part 3B: National Forest System

The National Forest system in the Yosemite area includes Stanislaus National Forest to the north, Sierra National Forest to the south, and Inyo National Forest to the east. Toiyabe National Forest to the northeast was previously described in Part 2 in the Tahoe-Eldorado region. Within these forests are special areas including the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, experimental forests, and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, administered by the Forest Service. The trail is further described under the National Trails System section. The Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest is further described under Man and the Biosphere Reserves. Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, California, is described separately under Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. Wilderness areas and national recreation trails within the national forest system are also described separately.

Inyo National Forest

Inyo NF, California and Nevada, includes lands in the Sierra Nevada, Great Basin, Great Basin Montane Forest, and Mojave Desert ecoregions. This 1.8-million-acre forest is on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, adjoining Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park. However, it includes the (eventually) westward-flowing upper Kern River drainage in the Golden Trout Wilderness. The southernmost points in the forest are at Kennedy Meadows (N36º2’ W118º8’) and Tunawee Canyon (N36º3’ W118º0’), while the northernmost point in the Sierra Nevada ecoregion is at Copper Mountain (N38º2’ W119º12’) near Mono Lake. The Ansel Adams Wilderness, Golden Trout Wilderness, Hoover Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Owens River Headwaters Wilderness, and South Sierra Wilderness, all described separately, are included in the Sierra Nevada ecoregion portion of Inyo National Forest. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail passes through wilderness areas of the forest (see description under Hoover, Ansel Adams, John Muir, Golden Trout, and South Sierra Wildernesses) and also through Agnew Meadows (N37º41’ W119º5’) and Kennedy Meadows (N36º3’ W118º8’).

Mammoth Lakes to Kennedy Meadows

Much of the Sierra Nevada portion of the forest south of Mammoth Lakes consists of trailheads for the John Muir Wilderness. Some of these trailheads are Whitney Portal (N36º35’ W118º14’), Onion Valley (N36º46’ W118º20’), Oak Creek (N36º51’ W118º18’), Big Pine Creek (N37º7’ W118º27’), South Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon (N37º10’ W118º34’), Lake Sabrina in Bishop Creek Canyon (N37º22’ W118º41’), Rock Creek Canyon (N37º27’ W118º44’), McGee Creek (N37º33’ W118º48’), Mammoth Lakes Basin (N37º36’ W119º0’), and Convict Lake (N37º35’ W118º52’). Oak Creek and Division Creek (N36º56’ W118º17’) are wildflower viewing areas.

At Whitney Portal trailhead west of Lone Pine, trails lead to Mount Whitney and to Meysan Lakes (N36º33’ W118º15’), an alpine lake basin. At Onion Valley west of Independence, trails lead to Kearsage Pass with views of Sequoia National Park, lakes, and boulder fields. At Big Pine Creek, a nine-mile trail leads to Palisades Glacier, the southernmost glacier in North America, passing waterfalls and lakes. The Glacier Lodge cabin development is at the trailhead (N37º7’ W118º26’).  Bishop Creek Canyon (N37º15’ W118º35’) features an 18-mile drive on State Route 168 climbing 5,000 feet in elevation west of Bishop. This passes a Southern California Edison hydroelectric development. Glacier-carved Rock Creek Canyon includes the Little Lakes Valley (N37º26’ W118º45’), 50 lakes surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks. Rock Creek Canyon provides a dramatic vegetation transition in a short distance, from desert to lodgepole pine and subalpine forests. South of Crowley Lake, McGee Creek (N37º33’ W118º48’) is a wildflower viewing area.

The Bishop Creek Hydroelectric System of Southern California Edison consists of reservoirs, diversion dams, and powerhouses, which have their own dams and intakes. On the South Fork Bishop Creek, South Reservoir (N37º10’ W118º34’) provides water storage. The storage is supplemented by water from Bluff Reservoir (N37º11’ W118º33’), which is on Green Creek, a tributary to South Fork Bishop Creek. Water is released from South Reservoir, passes a Weir Lake, then is diverted at the South Fork Diversion Dam (N37º14’ W118º34’) to Intake 2 Reservoir (N37º15’ W118º35’) on the Middle Fork Bishop Creek. On the Middle Fork Bishop Creek, water is also released from Sabrina Reservoir (N37º13’ W118º37’) to Intake 2 Reservoir. Intake 2 Reservoir diverts water to the Second Powerhouse (N37º16’ W118º34’).

Water is also diverted to the Second Powerhouse from storage in Longley Reservoir (N37º17’ W118º40’) on McGee Creek. Downstream from Longley Reservoir, McGee Creek Diversion Dam (N37º17’ W118º38’), Birch Creek Diversion Dam (N37º17’ W118º37’), and East Fork Birch Creek Diversion Dam (N37º16’ W118º36’) also divert water to the 2nd Powerhouse. Below the second powerhouse, another diversion dam sends water to the 3rd Powerhouse (N37º18’ W118º32’), and in turn another diversion sends water to the 4th Powerhouse (N37º19’ W118º30’). The 5th and 6th Powerhouses are not in Inyo National Forest.

The South Fork Kern River is a wild and scenic river as it passes through the forest in the Golden Trout and South Sierra Wilderness areas, as well as in the Monache Meadows (N36º12’ W118º10’) and Kennedy Meadows (N36º2’ W118º8’) areas outside of the wildernesses.

Mammoth Lakes

The remains of a volcanic eruption 760,000 years ago, Long Valley Caldera is bordered by Mammoth Mountain (N37º38’ W119º2’), Crowley Lake (N37º36’ W118º45’), and Glass Mountain (N37º46’ W118º42’). Glass Mountain is part of the Mono Hills IBA, and is noted for long-eared owl and northern harrier. More recent eruptions were 500 years ago at Obsidian Dome (N37º45’ W119º1’) and South Deadman Dome (N37º43’ W119º1’). Inyo Craters (N37º42’ W119º1’) are two volcanic pits. Near Crowley Lake, glacial moraines are visible at McGee Creek (N37º34’ W118º47’) and at Convict Creek (N37º37’ W118º50’).

At Mammoth Lakes, a fissure in the earth called Earthquake Fault (N37º39’ W119º0’) runs through the pine trees near State Route 203. Dead trees in the vicinity of Horseshoe Lake (N37º37’ W119º1’) signal high levels of carbon dioxide emissions underground. Horseshoe Lake is in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, along with four other glacial lakes. State Route 203 continues to Minaret Vista, then Forest Highway 11 descends into the San Joaquin Valley, ending at Reds Meadow (N37º37’ W119º5’), providing access Devils Postpile National Monument, campgrounds, and hiking areas in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Reds Meadow is currently (2016) accessible only by shuttle bus in summer. Sentinel Meadow RNA (N37º48’ W118º48’) is a 3,800-acre lodgepole pine and limber pine forest on the northern rim of the Long Valley Caldera. Whitebark pine, sagebrush, and mountain mahogany vegetation are also present. Indiana Summit RNA (N37º49’ W118º55’) is a pristine Jeffrey pine forest of 1,162 acres on a volcanic plateau. The Middle Fork San Joaquin River is eligible for the wild and scenic rivers system in the Ansel Adams Wilderness and in the Inyo National Forest in the vicinity of Rainbow Falls (N37º36’ W119º5’).

Mono Basin

Between Mammoth Lakes and Lee Vining, June Lake Loop Road (State Route 158) passes a U-shaped canyon with lakes and 270-foot Horsetail Falls (N37º46’ W119º8’), which is on Rush Creek below Agnew Lake. Nearby, a glacial moraine is visible in Bloody Canyon (N37º54’ W119º8’).  The Rush Creek Hydroelectric Project of Southern California Edison includes Agnew Lake (N37º45’ W119º8’) and the Rush Creek Powerhouse on the June Lake Loop. Downstream of the powerhouse, Grant Lake, City of Los Angeles (N37º51’ W119º7’), diverts water to the Owens River watershed for eventual diversion to the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Off of the June Lake Loop, Parker Creek (N37º51’ W119º8’) is a wildflower viewing area for mule ears and balsamroot flowers.

West of Lee Vining, on the road to Yosemite National Park, are waterfalls, campgrounds and resorts in Lee Vining canyon. Tioga Lake (N37º56’ W119º15’), Saddlebag Lake (N37º59’ W119º17’), and Ellery Lake are part of the Southern California Edison Lee Vining hydroelectric project. Between Tioga and Ellery Lakes is the Nunatak Nature Trail, which provides high elevation wildflower identification opportunities. Mono Mills (N37º55’ W118º58’) is a former logging and mining site on State Route 120. Wood was hauled via railroad to Bodie via the east shore of Mono Lake. At the northern edge of the forest, Lundy Lake (N38º2’ W119º14’) is another hydroelectric development of Southern California Edison.

Kings River Special Areas

Kings River Experimental Watersheds, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Sierra National Forest, California is a group of eight watersheds where research is conducted on forest management in the semi-arid, patchy southern Sierra Nevada landscape. There is one watershed in the Teakettle Experimental Forest (N36º58’ W119º2’), three in the Dinkey Creek drainage centered on Bull Creek (N36º59’ W119º5’), and four in the Providence Creek area (N37º3’ W119º12’). Physical, chemical and biological indicators are being collected.

Kings River Special Management Area, Sequoia National Monument and Sierra National Forest, California, is 49,000 acres and protects the 8,000-foot-deep Kings Canyon, and extends from its easternmost point at Horseshoe Bend on State Route 180 on the South Fork Kings River (N36º49’ W118º50’) to the confluence with the North Fork Kings River and to the ridges overlooking the canyon. The southernmost portion is south of Sampson Flat (N36º46’ W119º5’), the northwestern portion is on the North Fork Kings River at Rodgers Ridge (N36º53’ W119º7’), and the northeasternmost portion is at Spanish Mountain (N36º55’ W118º55’). There is a wild trout fishery in the Kings River, and the Boole giant sequoia tree (N36º49’ W118º57’) is in the area. The Kings River National Recreation Trail traverses the area.

Sierra National Forest

Sierra National Forest, California, is 1.3 million acres on the western side of the Sierra Nevada between Yosemite National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Its northern border is the Merced River and its southern boundary is the Kings River. Dinkey Lakes and Kaiser Wildernesses are completely within the forest, while Ansel Adams, John Muir, and Monarch Wildernesses are in both the Sierra National Forest and adjoining public lands. Wilderness areas are described separately. The granite monoliths of the Sierra Nevada are found in this forest which bridges the gap between Kings Canyon NP and Yosemite NP. Vegetation ranges from grasslands to subalpine meadows; ponderosa pine predominates between 4,000 and 8,000 feet elevation. There are no trans-mountain roads leading across the Sierra Nevada in the Sierra National Forest. State Route 168 is the Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway and ends at Kaiser Pass. The Sierra Vista Scenic byway makes a loop in the northern part of the forest south of Yosemite National Park.

Kings River Watershed

In the southern part of the forest is the Kings River watershed. The Helms Pumped Storage Project of Pacific Gas and Electric Company consists of an upper Courtright Reservoir (N37º5’ W118º59’) and a lower Wishon Reservoir (N37º1’ W118º58’). Both reservoirs are reached by taking Forest Highway 40 east from Shaver Lake. In between is the Helms Powerhouse, capable of 1,212 MW of generation. The powerhourse is in a chamber 1,000 feet underground carved out of granite. Courtright Reservoir adjoins the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness and Wishon Reservoir adjoins Ansel Adams Wilderness. Courtright Intrusive Contact Zone Geological Area (N37º5’ W118º58’) is east of Courtright Dam. The contact between two large granitic intrusions at the bedrock of the Sierra Nevada range may be viewed. On the way to Wishon Reservoir, Forest Route 40 crosses Dinkey Creek and the McKinley Grove Botanical Area (N37º1’ W119º7’), 520 acres surrounding an isolated giant sequoia grove. Dinkey Creek Recreation Area (N37º4’ W119º9’) is in the ponderosa pine zone and contains campgrounds and resorts in a streamside setting. King Caverns Geological Area (N36º 55’ W119º 0’) is 338 acres with three major caves and 2,000 feet of passageway and delicate cave formations.

Water from Wishon Reservoir is diverted downstream into the Haas Tunnel, which transports water to the Haas Powerhouse above Black Rock Reservoir (N36º55’ W119º1’). East of Black Rock Reservoir is the Kings River Geological Area (N36º55’ W118º59’). Water from Black Rock Reservoir enters another tunnel which exits at the Balch Powerhouse on Balch Afterbay (N36º55’ W119º6’). Water from Balch Afterbay enters a tunnel which exits at Kings River Powerhouse on Pine Flat Lake (N36º55’ W119º10’).

Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway

The Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway begins at Clovis on the east side of Fresno and climbs to Kaiser Pass at 9,200 feet elevation. After entering the Sierra Nevada ecoregion, Pineridge Vista (N37º4’ W119º22’) provides a view of a 40-mile flume from Shaver Lake used for logging. At Shaver Lake, the Museum of the Central Sierra (N37º7’ W119º18’) at Camp Edison is on land provided by Southern California Edison. The road continues climbing to Huntington Lake, where it provides access to the China Peak Mountain Resort (N37º14’ W119º0’) and two national recreation trails (NRTs) on Sierra National Forest lands. The byway ends at White Bark Vista Point (N37º17’ W119º5’) near Kaiser Pass, adjacent to the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. From Kaiser Pass, Forest Route 80 continues to Mono Hot Springs (N37º20’ W119º1’) on the South Fork San Joaquin River.

Along the State Route 168 corridor, Dinkey Creek Roof Pendant Geological Area (N37º9’ W119º6’) is 640 acres established to interpret a sequence of five sedimentary rock units metamorphosed by intruded granite. Near Huntington Lake are Black Point National Recreation Trail and Rancheria Falls NRT, described separately. Crater Lake Meadow proposed Geological Area (N37º24’ W119º9′), is 80 acres partially in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The mountaintop depression is a volcanic pipe of basalt about 3.5 million years old. Granite boulders deposited by glaciers dot the meadow.

The Big Creek Hydroelectric Development of Southern California Edison is accessed from State Route 168 and consists of multiple reservoirs and tunnels in the Sierra National Forest. The complex system is on the South Fork San Joaquin River, San Joaquin River, and Big Creek, all of which are near SR 168. The uppermost reservoirs are on the South Fork San Joaquin River and tributaries. Florence Lake (N37º16’ W118º58’) is on the South Fork San Joaquin River. Its water is supplemented by a diversion dam on Hooper Creek (N37º18’ W118º57’). Water from Florence Lake is diverted into the Ward Tunnel. Water from Chinquapin (N37º18’ W119º1’), Camp 62 (N37º18’ W119º2’), and Bolsillo (N37º19’ W119º2’) Creeks is also diverted to the Ward Tunnel. Lake Thomas A. Edison (N37º23’ W118º59’)) receives water from Mono Creek and Warm Creek. The Mono Creek Diversion Dam (N37º21’ W119º0’) below Lake Thomas A. Edison and the Bear Creek Diversion Dam (N37º20’ W118º59’) divert water to the Mono-Bear Siphon, which also feeds the Ward Tunnel. Ward Tunnel passes the Portal Forebay (N37º19’ W119º4’), where it captures water from Camp 61 Creek, then exits the tunnel through Portal powerhouse at Huntington Lake (N37º14’ W119º12’).

Water from Huntington Lake (Big Creek Dam 3 Reservoir) may be diverted through three pathways. Tunnel 1 leads to a powerhouse above Big Creek Dam 4 Reservoir (N37º12’ W119º14’). Tunnel 7 delivers water to North Fork Stevenson Creek, a tributary of Shaver Lake, or as is usually the case, Tunnel 7 delivers water to Balsam Meadows Forebay (N37º10’ W119º15’). Tunnel 7 also receives diverted water from Pittman Creek (N37º12’ W119º13’). If sent to Balsam Meadows Forebay, the water passes through the Eastwood Powerhouse on Shaver Lake (N37º7’ W119º17’). Shaver Lake is operated as a pumped storage facility with Balsam Meadows Forebay, which is not on national forest lands.

Water from Shaver Lake is diverted through Tunnel 5 to a powerhouse on Big Creek Dam 5 reservoir (N37º12’ W119º18’). Big Creek Dam 5 reservoir also receives water via Tunnel 2 from Big Creek Dam 4 Reservoir. Water in Tunnel 2 is supplemented by water from Balsam Creek (N37º11’ W119º16’) and Ely Creek (N37º11’ W119º17’).

On the San Joaquin River is Mammoth Pool Reservoir (N37º20’ W119º19’). Water from Mammoth Pool is diverted to a powerhouse on Big Creek Dam 6 (N37º12’ W119º20’), which is on the San Joaquin River. Dam 6 also receives water from Big Creek Dam 5 reservoir. The powerhouse on Dam 6 also receives water diverted from Rock Creek (N37º16’ W119º20’) and Ross Creek (N37º14’ W119º21’).

Below Bear Creek Dam 6, water is diverted through Tunnel 3 to Redinger Lake (N37º9’ W119º27’). Water from Redinger Reservoir is diverted to a powerhouse on the upper end of Kerckhoff Reservoir (N37º8’ W119º31’), which is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. Kerckoff Powerhouse (N37º6’ W119º33’) is just above Millerton Lake in the California Interior Chaparral ecoregion.

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway has Yosemite-like scenery, with granite domes and rock formations. It begins at North Fork (N37º14’ W119º31’) and follows a loop using Forest Highways 81, 7, and 10, ending at Yosemite Forks on State Route 41. At North Fork is the Cedars Interpretive Trail along Willow Creek. Leaving North Fork on County Road 225 (Italian Bar Road), the byway passes the geographic center of California marker (N37º10’ W119º27’). The route then backtracks to follow Forest Highway 81 (Minarets Road). On Minarets Road is an overlook of Redinger Reservoir (N37º11’ W119º26’), then the road climbs to Ross Cabin (N37º14’ W119º22’), built in the 1860s near a Mono Indian Trail. The Mile High Vista (N37º19’ W119º21’) provides expansive views of the Minarets and numerous domes and buttes. A granite arch known as Arch Rock (N37º27’ W119º17’) is further up Minarets Road.

The byway turns west at Beasore Road (Forest Highway 7) to Jackass Meadow (N37º30’ W119º20’). On Forest Highway 7, Portuguese Overlook (N37º30’ W119º22’) provides a view of the Balls, a series of granite domes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Globe Rock (N37º29’ W119º25’) is a granite sphere, precariously perched. Cold Springs Meadow (N37º25’ W119º30’), the highest point on the drive at 7,300 feet, provides a view of Madera Peak.

Continuing on Sky Ranch Road (Forest Highway 10), the byway provides a view of Fresno Dome (N37º27’ W119º32’), then continues to Nelder Grove Historical Area (N37º26’ W119º35’), a 1,400-acre giant sequoia grove that was subjected to lumber activity between 1884 and 1893. There are also more than 100 mature trees left. At Nelder Grove is the Shadow of the Giants National Recreation Trail.

On the North Fork Willow Creek in the Sierra National Forest is the Crane Valley Hydroelectric Development of Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The uppermost reservoir of this development is Chilkoot Lake (N37º25’ W119º29’), which is a storage reservoir. Downstream is the largest of the development, Bass Lake (N37º18’ W119º32’), formed by Crane Valley Dam. Supplemental water is diverted to Bass Lake from the Browns Creek Diversion Dam (N37º18’ W119º30’). From the powerhouse at Bass Lake, the water is diverted through tunnels to a forebay at San Joaquin No. 3 Powerhouse (N37º15’ W119º32’). The outflow from the powerhouse goes into Manzanita Lake (N37º15’ W119º31’). From Manzanita Lake water is diverted to the San Joaquin No. 2 Forebay (N37º12’ W119º30’), where additional power is generated. Water from San Joaquin No. 2 forebay is supplemented through diversion dams on the South Fork Willow Creek and North Fork Willow Creek (both N37º13’ W119º30’). From San Joaquin No. 2, water is sent to the San Joaquin No. 1A Powerhouse, which discharges into Corrine Lake (N37º10’ W119º30’). Water from Corrine Lake is sent through the A.G. Wishon powerhouse to the San Joaquin River (PGE 2006).

Southwest of Yosemite

Along State Route 41 to the south of Yosemite is the Lewis Creek National Recreation Trail, described separately, providing access to waterfalls. The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (N37º27’ W119º39’), a tourist train, and is nearby to SR 41, as is the Miami Off-Highway Vehicle riding area. Bishop Creek candidate Research Natural Area (N37º36’ W119º42’) is a ponderosa pine stand south of Bishop Creek on the Yosemite National Park boundary southwest of Yosemite Valley. It adjoins the South Fork Merced National Wild and Scenic River. Devils Peak proposed Botanical Area (N37º 36’ W119º 45’) is 1,600 acres protecting Yosemite onion, Congdon’s woolly sunflower and lewisia.

Merced River is designated a wild and scenic river along the northern boundary of the Sierra National Forest from El Portal (N37º40’ W119º49’) to Briceburg (N37º36’ W119º58’). Between El Portal and Briceburg, the vegetation is pine-oak savannah and chaparral. The section from Briceburg to Lake McClure (N37º36’ W120º6’) is considered eligible for the wild and scenic river system. The river in the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests contains five outstandingly remarkable values (USDA, FS 2015):

  • Geology: contact between metasedimentary and granitic rock
  • Vegetation: four state-listed rare and endangered plants
  • Wildlife: threatened salamander habitat
  • Recreation: white water rafting, camping and hiking
  • Cultural: old Yosemite railroad and mining sites)

South Fork Merced River within the Sierra National Forest is a wild and scenic river. The sections on the boundary with Yosemite National Park (N37º32’ W119º31’) and downstream from the park (N37º35’ W119º42’) for 18 miles to the confluence with the Merced River (N37º39’ W119º53’) are included in the designation. The river contains five outstandingly remarkable values (USDA forest service 2015).

  • Recreation: fishing, nature study, white water rafting
  • Geology: oldest gold-bearing rocks
  • Wildlife: riparian dependent wildlife and rare limestone salamander
  • Fisheries: habitat for native fish
  • Botany: four state-listed rare plants

Stanislaus National Forest

Stanislaus National Forest, California, is 898,000 acres between the Merced River and North Fork Mokelumne River. The forest borders Yosemite National Park on the east. Wilderness areas are Carson-Iceberg, Emigrant, and Mokelumne. Within the Stanislaus, the Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest, described separately, is a Biosphere Reserve. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail passes through the wilderness areas of the forest and is accessed at Ebbetts Pass (N38º33’ W119º49’) and Sonora Pass (N38º20’ W119º38’). The forest includes portions of the Merced and Tuolumne National Wild and Scenic Rivers and two national recreation trails.

Merced River

The southern boundary of the Forest is the Merced Wild and Scenic River. Merced River is designated a wild and scenic river along the southern boundary of the Stanislaus National Forest from El Portal (N37º40’ W119º49’) to Briceburg (N37º36’ W119º58’). Between El Portal and Briceburg, the vegetation is pine-oak savannah and chaparral. The section from Briceburg to Lake McClure (N37º36’ W120º6’) is considered eligible for the wild and scenic river system. The river in the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests contains five outstandingly remarkable values (USDA, FS 2015):

  • Geology: contact between metasedimentary and granitic rock
  • Vegetation: four state-listed rare and endangered plants
  • Wildlife: threatened salamander habitat
  • Recreation: white water rafting, camping and hiking
  • Cultural: old Yosemite railroad and mining sites

North of the Merced River, the Trumbull Peak Historic and Botanical Area (N37º41’ W119º52’) is 150 acres west of El Portal. The area includes a railroad spur, a logging incline from the peak to the Merced River, and Trumbull Peak lookout. There are populations of three sensitive plants, Allium yosemitense, Eriophyllum congdonii, and Lewisia congdonii. To the northwest in the North Fork Merced watershed, the Jordan Creek Bower Cave Cultural and Geologic Area (N37º45’ W120º2’) is 1,600 acres on Forest Highway 20 south of State Route 120, or east of Coulterville on Greely Hill Road. The site includes a wildflower area, cave, and tribal sacred site. Grizzly Mountain Research Natural Area (N37º43’ W119º55’) is 668 acres with California black oak, ponderosa pine, and chaparral. It is west of Yosemite National Park and north of the Merced River off of Forest Highway 20.

Tuolumne River

South of State Route 120 off of Forest Road 1S13, the Pacific Madrone Botanical Area (N37º48’ W120º0’) is 15 acres in two tracts near the South Fork Tuolumne River. It contains the southernmost groves of Arbutus menziesii, a species more commonly found in coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. In the Clavey River watershed, a tributary to the Tuolumne, Bell Meadow Research Natural Area (N38º10’ W119º56’) is an aspen stand in a Jeffrey pine forest. William B. Critchfield RNA (N38º7’ W119º54’) is at Bourland Meadows adjoining the Emigrant Wilderness. The 1,003-acre RNA is a red fir research site. Oak scrub is also present. Bourland Creek Trestle Historic Area (N38º3’ W120º0’) is near Forest Road 2N14 off Forest Highway 31. The large, curved wooden trestle is 76 feet above the creek. Nearby is Jawbone Falls Heritage Area (N38º1’ W119º58’), off of Forest Highway 31.

North of State Route 120, Cherry Lake (N37º57’ W119º55’), along with Holm Powerhouse on Cherry Creek (N37º54’ W119º58’)and Kirkwood Powerhouse on the Tuolumne River (N37º53’ W119º57’) within the forest are part of the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric development of the City of San Francisco. On the South Fork Tuolumne River near State Route 120 is the San Jose Family Camp (N37º50’ W120º0’), operated by the City of San Jose on Stanislaus National Forest lands. Downstream from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park is the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River (see separate description).

Route 108 to Sonora Pass

State Route 108 bisects the forest between Mi-Wuk Village and Sonora Pass. At the western edge of the forest, the West Side Railroad Grade Trail (N38º0’ W120º12’) provides North Fork Tuolumne River canyon views. Lyons Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (N38º6’ W120º10’), is on the South Fork Stanislaus River in the Stanislaus National Forest off State Route 108 at Sierra Village. Water is diverted via the Tuolumne Ditch to Sullivan Creek, and power is generated outside the forest at the Phoenix Reservoir Powerhouse (N38º0’ W120º19’). Uphill on SR 108, Pinecrest Lake (N38º12’ W119º59’), also called Strawberry Reservoir, is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company on national forest lands.

Near Pinecrest Lake is the Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest (described under Man and the Biosphere Reserves) and Pinecrest National Recreation Trail (described separately). Bull Run Scenic and Geologic Area (N38º15’ W119º57’) is 340 acres, featuring a horseshoe-shaped, lava-capped ridge with unique rock formations. The Trail of the Gargoyles traces the rim. It is found on Forest Road 4N12 (Herring Creek Road) off of State Route 108. Further up Herring Creek Road is a mountain biking area surrounding Herring Creek Reservoir (N38º15’ W119º56’), operated by the Stanislaus National Forest for recreation.

On the Middle Fork Stanislaus River north of State Route 108 are reservoirs and hydroelectric developments. Within the national forest are Sand Bar Dam and tunnel (N38º11’ W120º9’) and Spring Gap Dam and Powerhouse (N38º11’ W120º7’), operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Beardsley Reservoir (N38º13’ W120º4’), Beardsley Afterbay (N38º12’ W120º5’), and Donnell Reservoir (N38º20’ W119º57’) are operated by the Tri-Dam Project, a partnership of the South San Joaquin and Oakdale Irrigation Districts. Niagara Creek and Falls Scenic and Geologic Area (N38º20’ W119º56’), is 320 acres adjacent to State Route 108 near Donnell Lake. A 900-foot waterfall, 500 feet of which is freefall, cascades into the lake in the spring from a hanging valley. By taking Forest Route 5N01 for 12 miles east of SR108, the turnoff for the Bennett Juniper (N38º19’ W119º48’) is on the western edge of Sardine Meadow. This is the largest living western juniper tree.

A few miles to the east of Donnell Reservoir on State Route 108 is the Columns of the Giants Scenic and Geologic Area (38º20’ W119º48’), 105 acres featuring unique columnar basalt formations also found at Devils Postpile National Monument (see under National Park System). Clark Fork candidate Research Natural Area (N38º23’ W119º48’) is 460 acres in the Middle Fork Stanislaus area and contains examples of white fir and red fir forest. Relief Reservoir, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (N38º16’ W119º44’) is on Summit Creek in the Stanislaus National Forest headwaters of the Middle Fork Stanislaus River. It adjoins Emigrant Wilderness and provides supplemental water to downstream reservoirs. The Middle Fork Stanislaus River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from the Emigrant Wilderness boundary (N38º18’ W119º44’) downstream 15 miles to Donnell Reservoir (N38º21’ W119º56’). Deadman Creek is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from Sonora Pass (N38º20’ W119º38’) downstream to the confluence with the Middle Fork Stanislaus River (N38º19’ W119º45’). Both streams are adjacent to State Route 108. The California National Historic Trail traverses the forest in the Emigrant Wilderness (see) and from Burst Rock (N38º12’ W119º52’) west to Long Barn on State Route 108 east of Sonora (N38º5’ W120º9’).

Route 4 to Ebbets Pass

State Route 4 bisects the forest between Columbia and Ebbets Pass. Windeler Cave Geologic Area (N38º5’ W120º21’) is near Silver Gulch on Forest Road 2N63 northeast of Columbia. The limestone cave is 2,500-feet long with stalagtite and stalagmite formations. At the edge of the national forest along SR 4, Hunter’s Reservoir (N38º12’ W120º22’) is operated by the Utica Water and Power Authority. The dam stores water and diverts it into the Utica Canal, which crosses national forest land on the way to Murphy’s Powerhouse along SR 4 (N38º9’ W120º26’). Arnold Rim Trail extends to the west of SR 4 from Crescent Cove (N38º11’ W120º23’) north to the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum (N38º16’ W120º21’), which overlooks White Pines Reservoir (N38º16’ W120º21’) of the Calaveras County Water District. Further up SR 4, Highland Lakes former Research Natural Area (N38º29’ W119º48’) is a 440-acre mountain hemlock and wet meadow area adjacent to the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. The North Fork Mokelumne River is eligible for the national wild and scenic rivers system from Highland Lakes (N38º30’ W119º48’) downstream nine miles to the Mokelumne Wilderness boundary (N38º32’ W119º55’) downstream of State Route 4.Highland Lakes are reached by turning off State Route 4 west of Ebbets Pass. Downstream of the Mokelumne Wilderness on the North Fork Mokelumne River, Salt Springs Reservoir (N38º30’ W120º11’) is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric on national forest lands. At the western edge of the forest, Schaads Reservoir (N38º23’ W120º26’) is a hydroelectric reservoir on the Middle Fork Mokelumne River. It is operated by the Calaveras Public Utility District.

To the south of State Route 4 in the forest are hydroelectric reservoirs and facilities on the North Fork Stanislaus and tributaries operated by the Northern California Power Agency. The Upper Utica Project consists of three reservoirs. Lake Alpine (N38º29’ W120º0’) is on Silver Creek adjacent to State Route 4 as well as the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Union Reservoir (N38º26’ W120º0’) is the uppermost reservoir on the North Fork Stanislaus River. Just downstream is Utica Reservoir. Both release water to the North Fork Diversion Dam (N38º26’ W120º1’) of Calaveras County Water District, which sends water to New Spicer Meadows Reservoir (N38º24’ W120º0’) on Highland Creek for storage. Downstream, water from the North Fork Stanislaus River reaches McKays Point Reservoir (N38º14’ W120º17’) of the Calaveras County Water District. Water from Beaver Creek Diversion Dam (N38º14’ W120º7’) is also diverted to McKays Point Reservoir. At McKays Point, the water enters an 8.5-mile tunnel for power generation at Collierville Powerhouse (N38º9’ W120º23’) on New Melones Reservoir.

Teakettle Experimental Forest

Teakettle Experimental Forest, Sierra National Forest, California (N36º58’ W119º2’), is a watershed management research area with a red fir forest and meadows, located west of the North Fork Kings River on Forest Road 11S12, Black Rock Road.