Natural and cultural features of Kansas City, Part 3: Central–City Market and Old Northeast

National Historic Trail Sites
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

River Bluff Park (N35o6’30” W94o35’28”) is on Beardsley Road between 4th Street and the I-70 underpass on the Riverfront Heritage Trail. A public art display includes two dugout canoes moored to an island and a wayfinding marker. The shape of the stairs at the overlook is designed to resemble a waterfall. At the 4th Street end of the park are quartz stone pavers that were part of the first paved street in the town of Kansas.

Santa Fe, Oregon, and California National Historic Trails

Westport Landing, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Town of Kansas Site, is at the north end of Main Street at the Town of Kansas bridge (approximate location N39o6’40” W94o35’0”),. The French visited and described the area as early as 1713. In 1790, Auguste Chouteau was given trading rights in the area with the Kanza Indians. Lewis and Clark passed by the area in 1804 and 1806. They gathered pawpaw on their return trip in 1806. Chouteau’s Landing, a fir trading post on the Kansas River from 1818 to 1838, Kit Carson and John James Audubon passed through the area. Chouteau’s wife, Berenice Chouteau, lived in the town of Kansas until her death in 1888.

Settlement began in 1832 when Francois Chouteau built a warehouse to store westbound steamboat goods. In 1833, the Town of Westport was founded. In 1834, Westport Landing was established to receive steamboat deliveries. Westport landing was the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail beginning in the late 1830s. It was also used later as a starting point for the California and Oregon trails. Westport Landing is a site on the California, Oregon, Santa Fe, and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails. At the site, a rock ledge was used for riverboat landing.

Other Parks and Historic Sites

Bellefontaine Avenue Historic District, 500-524 Bellefontaine Avenue between Independence Boulevard and Thompson Avenue (N39o6’25” W94o32’50”), consists of 10 houses dating to 1889. They are an example of speculative middle-class residential construction in the 1880s. All were constructed by a single builder and repeated a similar Queen Anne design. To the east is Scarritt Point South Historic District, which includes structures on the east side of Bellefontaine Avenue; and the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District (Kessler Park), which is to the rear of the houses.

Belmont Boulevard Bikeway is 0.8 miles from Saida Avenue at Indian Mound (N39⁰7’4” W94⁰30’33”) south to Independence Avenue (N39⁰6’18” W94⁰30’52”).

Benton Boulevard between Gladstone/St. John Avenue and Linwood Boulevard (2.9 miles) is part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District.

Berkley Riverfront, 1298 Riverfront Road (N39o7’5” W94o34’17”) is a development project of PortKC, a state agency. The 17-acre park component is between the Kit Bond Bridge and the Heart of America Bridge, featuring hiking trails, an esplanade, sand volleyball courts, fitness courts, a wetland restoration, and picnic tables. West of the ASB Bridge, Riverfront West includes the Town of Kansas Bridge and an elevator and stairs provide access to the City Market area. The Armour-Swift-Burlington (ASB) Bridge on the BNSF Railroad is 1.2 miles long and was constructed in 1911. It is one of only a few multimodal vertical lift truss bridges in the world. There are two decks, one for freight railroads and another for vehicles (no longer used for vehicles). To allow river traffic to pass, the lower deck raises through the use of 25-ton counterweights. The Riverfront Heritage Trail passes under the ASB bridge and contains an exhibit about the bridge at a viewpoint west of the bridge. To the west of the ASB bridge is a 10-acre prairie restoration.

Budd Park (N39⁰6’42” W94⁰31’21”) is 26 acres on St. John Avenue at Brighton Avenue. The park dates to 1891. It was part of the original George Kessler 1906 Parks and Boulevard System plan. There is a playground, shelters, tennis courts, rogue courts, small swimming pool, and 0.7-mile loop trail circling the park. The Budd Park Explanade extends for two blocks west of the park to Van Brunt Boulevard and contains the American Legion Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1921. An inscription on the monument is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “All daring and courage, all iron endurance, of misfortune, all devotion to the ideal of honor and the glory of the alliances, for a finer and nobler type of manhood.”

Chestnut Parkway Bikeway is designated for a 0.8-mile section of street between Independence Boulevard (N39⁰6’23” W94⁰32’54”) and Kessler Park (N39⁰6’47” W94⁰32’54”).

Cliff Drive and Spirit of KC Scenic Byways Trail is 1.8 miles, from Paseo at Missouri Avenue (N39⁰6’34” W94⁰33’46”) to the City Market at Holmes Street and 3rd Street (N39⁰6’40” W94⁰34’34”). It is partly in Kessler Park. The trail begins in Kessler Park along Paseo and passes Garrison Square Park before ending at 3rd Street four blocks east of the City Market. The trail passes Garrison Square Park and the National Register-listed Joe Vaccaro Soda Water Manufacturing Company Building at 5th and Harrison Streets.

Columbus Square Park (N39⁰6’29” W94⁰34’28”) is 4 acres bordered by Missouri Avenue, Charlotte Street, Holmes Street, and Cherry Street. I-70 is to the south. There is a memorial garden at the east entrance. Features include bocce ball courts, picnic tables, a playground, and trails. Trees include Siberian elms, redbud, ash, pines, and red cedars.

The Concourse (N39⁰6’44” W94⁰32’44”) is 6 acres on Benton at St. John Avenue. It is on the NRHP as part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District. The Concourse and the stone comfort station east of Gladstone Boulevard are contributing structures to the historic district. West of Gladstone Boulevard is the Concourse Hill Slide, playground, exercise equipment, tennis courts, and basketball courts.

Garrison Square (N39⁰6’41” W94⁰34’8”) is 3 acres bordered by East 4th Street, East 5th Street, Forest Avenue, and Troost Avenue. The park includes the Garrison Community Center, a soccer field, and playground. The Cliff Drive and KC Scenic Byways Trail passes adjacent to the park on 5th Street.

Gladstone Boulevard between Indian Mound and Independence Boulevard (2.1 miles) is part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District. It was part of the original George Kessler 1906 Parks and Boulevard System plan. The Gladstone Boulevard bridge over Anderson Avenue (N39o6’42” W94o32’45”), dating to 1897, is a contributing feature to the Parks and Boulevards historic district. It is a 60-foot iron arch span with massive stone masonry abutments. Exterior arches and handrails are also iron. The Thomas Hart Benton Memorial in the traffic circle at St. John Avenue and Benton Boulevard (N39o6’47” W94o32’42”), dating to 1915, is also a contributing feature. Between Walrond Avenue and Askew Avenue, Gladstone Boulevard is within the Scarritt Point North Historic District. Between the Anderson Avenue Bridge and Independence Boulevard, Gladstone Boulevard is within the Scarritt Point South Historic District.

Harrison Street Skate Park is at 4th and Harrison Streets (N39o6’41” W94o34’24”).

Ferd. Heim Brewing Company Bottling Plant, 507 North Montgall Avenue, between Guinotte and Rochester Avenues (N39o7’12” W94o32’56”) dates to 1901. The Heim family initially operated a brewery in East St. Louis beginning in 1869, then purchased a brewery in Kansas City in 1884, after selling the East St. Louis brewery. They operated a brewery in Kansas City from 1884 until 1918, when the company closed due to the coming prohibition. Only the bottling plant is on the National Register. The bottling plant was originally connected to the brewery by a 300-foot-long tunnel east of Chestnut Street Trafficway, no longer extant. Heim was the largest brewery west of St. Louis before prohibition. Today J. Reiger and Company, another casualty of prohibition, has been resurrected by new owners and operates a whiskey, gin, and vodka distillery in the building. Tours are available.

Heim Electric Park (N39⁰7’20” W94⁰32’51”) is 4 acres bordered by Chestnut Trafficway, Rochester Avenue, and Chestnut Avenue. A football field with goalposts, playground, and picnic tables are present. Parking is on Chestnut Avenue south of Nicholson Avenue. An underpass under Chestnut Trafficway leads to Montgall Avenue.

Holy Rosary Historic District (N39o6’32” W94o34’23”) is an Italian immigrant neighborhood dating to 1898, including 17 buildings on Campbell Street and East Missouri Avenue in Columbus Park, centered on Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church.

Independence Boulevard between Paseo and Benton Boulevard (0.8 miles) is part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District. 7th Street east from West Terrace Park, including Admiral Boulevard, Highland, and Independence Avenue to Benton Boulevard was part of the original George Kessler 1906 Parks and Boulevard System plan. Along Independence Boulevard is the National Register-listed Independence Boulevard Christian Church, 606 Gladstone Avenue at Independence (N39o6’21” W94o32’47”), dates to 1904. The church is a significant example of the Beaux Arts style of architecture; and was the first example of this style constructed in Kansas City. The style focuses on formality, symmetry, and lavish ornament as taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Independence Plaza (N39⁰6’24” W94⁰33’19”) is a 2-acre city park on both sides of Independence Boulevard between Park Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue. It was part of the original George Kessler 1906 Parks and Boulevard System plan.

Indian Mound Park (N39⁰7’6” W94⁰30’34”) is 12 acres on Gladstone Boulevard and Belmont Boulevard, anchoring the east end of Kessler Park. It is listed on the NRHP as part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District. Indian Mound is a contributing feature to the historic district. An overlook looks east to the Blue River valley industrial area. There are picnic tables in the park.

Kansas City Cold Storage Company Building, 500 East 3rd Street at Heart of America Bridge, State Route 9 (N39o6’40” W94o34’42”), dates to 1922. This company took advantage of Kansas City’s status as a rail hub to build the largest cold storage business in the world. This building was where ice was made, and fruits and vegetables stored for national distribution. It is now the Cold Storage Lofts.

Kessler Park is 303 acres, extending from Paseo at I-29/35) (N39⁰6’48” W94⁰33’51”) to Belmont Boulevard (N39⁰7’8” W94⁰30’29”) and encompassing north-facing bluffs overlooking the Missouri River floodplain. It was formerly North Terrace Park; and is part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District and was part of the original George Kessler 1906 Parks and Boulevard System plan. Cliff Drive State Scenic Byway is 3.8 miles, extending from Gladstone Boulevard at Elmwood Avenue (N39⁰6’52” W94⁰31’33”) west to Paseo/Lexington Avenue (N39⁰6’47 W94⁰33’39”). The road contains overlooks to the north with views of the Missouri River floodplain. Overlooks are at Prospect Point (N39o7’2” W94o32’57”) and Scarritt Point (N39o7’3” W94o32’45”) among other places. Rock bluffs along Cliff Drive add scenery and are used by rock climbers. The road is currently open only to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Cliff Drive is a contributing feature to the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District, as is the Cliff Drive Arch Bridge over Chestnut Trafficway (N39o6’45” W94o32’54”). Other roads within the park contributing to the historic district are East Outlook Point Drive, Cliff Drive (N39o6’53” W94o33’24”) to St. John Avenue (N39o6’49” W94o33’8”); and East Reservoir Drive, East Outlook Point Drive (N39o6’53” W94o33’14”) to Lexington (N39o6’40” W94o33’8”). North Terrace Lake (N39o6’44” W94o32’58”), a 2-acre fishing lake on Cliff Drive and Water Works Reservoir (N39o6’52” W94o33’6”) are contributing features to the historic district. At the junction of Gladstone Boulevard and St. John Avenue (N39o6’49” W94o32’44”) are the Colonnade and JFK Memorial, also contributing features to the historic district. At the east end of Kessler Park, a stone parapet wall on North Belmont Boulevard (N39o7’8” W94o30’31”) is a contributing feature. The Kessler Park Trail system, suitable for mountain biking and hiking, is 5 miles of trails between Lexington/Paseo east to Indian Mound. Cliff Drive and Spirit of KC Scenic Byways Trail, a paved shared-use path, begins in Kessler Park at Paseo and Missouri Avenue, follows Paseo Avenue to the Cliff Drive entrance at Lexington Avenue, then turns north to descend the bluff and connect with Dora Street just east of I-35. It continues west under I-35 to Lydia, then south to 5th Street. It continues west to the Old Town Historic District. The Gladstone Boulevard Trail extends 1.7 miles between The Concourse (N39⁰6’48 W94⁰32’40”) and Belmont Boulevard (N39⁰7’3” W94⁰30’32”).

Maple Park (N39⁰6’41” W94⁰33’34”) is 16 acres on Lexington Avenue between the Paseo, Missouri Avenue, and Maple Boulevard, adjoining Kessler Park. It is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District. The park contains a soccer field and volleyball court. Adjacent is the Pendleton Heights local historic district, which is the oldest surviving neighborhood in Kansas City, featuring intact pre-1900 houses. The local landmark Tiffany Castle is on Garfield Avenue within Pendleton Heights.

Nicholson Park (N39⁰7’25” W94⁰32’15”) is 2 acres at 3601 East Nicholson Avenue at North Monroe, in the East Bottoms. A constructed wetland is circled by a walking trail.

Northeast Athletic Fields Park (N39⁰6’49” W94⁰30’21”) is 19 acres at 6500 East St. John Avenue at Bennington. There are a playground and three ballfields.

Old Town Historic District (N39o6’30” W94o34’55”) consists of 80 buildings, including the Public Market (City Market). It is the original Kansas City town site. Boundaries are Second Street to the north, Missouri Avenue on the south, Delaware Street on the west, and Locust Lane on the east. Contributing structures are on 2nd Street, 3rd Street, 4th Street, 5th Street, Delaware Street, Grand Boulevard, Main Street, Missouri Avenue, Oak Street, and Walnut Street. Delaware Street provides a street scene reminiscent of the 19th century, with several pre-1890 structures. The Pacific House Hotel, 401 Delaware, housed Union troops during the Civil War. The original town square of 1846 became the City Market in 1857. In the 1870s this area famously hosted Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Doc Holliday. Also in this area were the original city hall and county courthouse buildings. East of Delaware between 3rd Street and 5th Street is the City Market, owned by the City of Kansas City. City Market Park is on 3rd Street east of Delaware. It contains benches, under shingle oak and honey locust trees. Since the city’s founding, the area has been a farmer’s market and continues the function today. Beginning in 1888, the city constructed brick market buildings; however, the current buildings were constructed in the 1930s. On the east side of the district on Oak, 3rd, and 4th Streets are several buildings associated with Muehlebach Brewing Company. Today the Kansas City Streetcar provides access to the district, with a loop running along 5th Street, Grand Boulevard, 3rd Street, and Delaware Street within the district. Kansas City Water Department Building, 201 Main Street (N39o6’39” W94o35’0”) is separately listed on the National Register. It operated from 1904 until 1923 and was the earliest extant public works building of the city water department. Studna Garage, 415-419 Oak Street (N39o6’34” W94o34’45”), is separately listed on the National Register and dates to 1922. It was a public parking garage for autos and trucks, also offering repair and fuel services. The garage provided services for a railroad freight area of the city. It is on the NRHP and is currently occupied by the offices of Tetra Tech. Townley Metal and Hardware Company Building, 200-210 Walnut Street (N39o6’38” W94o34’58”), is separately listed on the National Register and dates to 1895. It is representative of the wholesale hardware jobbers trade and was one of the nation’s largest wholesale hardware distributors. The company went on to become one of the founders of the Sentry Hardware brand in the 1960s. The company was sold in 1982. The building is used for the Old Townley Lofts. The Steamboat Arabia Museum (N39o6’34” W94o34’53”) is in a non-contributing structure within the historic district. It is expanding and may move elsewhere by 2026. The Riverfront Heritage Trail passes through the historic district on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets and along West 3rd Street from Main Street west to Wyandotte Street.

Prospect Avenue from Lexington Avenue south to Independence Avenue was part of the original George Kessler 1906 Parks and Boulevard System plan.

Richards and Conover Hardware Company Building, 200 West 5th Street at Wyandotte (N39o6’29” W94o35’8”), dates to 1902. It was built to house the inventory of the nation’s oldest and largest wholesale hardware company. The company operated from 1857 until 1999. Today the building is used for residential lofts. The Riverfront Heritage Trail passes the building on Wyandotte Street.

River Bluff Park (N35o6’30” W94o35’28”) is on Beardsley Road between 4th Street and the I-70 underpass on the Riverfront Heritage Trail. A public art display includes two dugout canoes moored to an island and a wayfinding marker. The shape of the stairs at the overlook is designed to resemble a waterfall. At the 4th Street end of the park are quartz stone pavers that were part of the first paved street in the town of Kansas. It is a site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Riverfront Heritage Trail is a 15-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail connecting Berkley Riverfront Park of Port KC (N39⁰7’5” W94⁰34’20”), Old Town Historic District (N39⁰6’35” W94⁰34’57”), Westside (N39⁰5’15” W94⁰35’34”), Huron Park in Kansas City Kansas (N39⁰6’51” W94⁰37’31”), and the West Bottoms (N39⁰6’35” W94⁰36’50”). The trail is managed by Kansas City River Trails, Inc. (kcrivertrails.org). The trail passes

Riverfront Park (N39⁰8’15” W94⁰32’19”) is 955 acres extending from North Olive Street at East Front Street to the Union Pacific Railroad east of I-435. A boat ramp on the Missouri River is on Riverfront Road west of North Choteau Trafficway.

River Market Dog Park is on East 5th Street at Locust Lane (N39o6’35’ W94o34’40”).

Scarritt Point North Historic District (N39o6’55” W94o32’30”) includes the finest houses of early Kansas City, with Corinthian Hall (1910), home of the Kansas City Museum, 3218 Gladstone Boulevard, being one of the jewels. The Kansas City Museum is separately listed on the National Register as the R.A. Long House. There are 63 contributing buildings, dating to 1887. The district boundaries are Kessler Park on the north and west, Windsor Avenue on the south, and Askew Avenue on the east. Houses on Askew Avenue, Bales Avenue, Gladstone Boulevard, Indiana Avenue, Norledge Avenue, and Windsor Avenue are included in the historic district. The Edward Lucky Scarritt House (1898), 3500 Gladstone Boulevard (N39o6’56” W94o32’24”), Edward A. Stevens House (1902), and the William Chick Scarritt House (1888), 3240 Norledge Avenue (N39o7’2” W94o32’33”) are separately listed on the NRHP. Gladstone Boulevard through the District is part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District, as is Kessler Park (North Terrace Park, which adjoins the district on the north and west.

Scarritt Point South Historic District (N39o6’32” W94o32’42”) includes Judge’s Row along Gladstone Boulevard south of The Concourse city park. There are 121 buildings contributing, dating to 1887. It is generally bordered by Bellefontaine Avenue on the west, Independence Boulevard on the south, Benton Boulevard on the East, and Anderson Avenue on the north. Houses on Anderson Avenue, Benton Boulevard, Gladstone Boulevard, Lexington Avenue, Smart Avenue, and Thompson Avenue are within the historic district. It adjoins the Bellefontaine Avenue Historic District. Gladstone Boulevard and Benton Boulevard within the Historic District are part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District, as are the adjacent Concourse Park and Anderson Avenue Bridge.

Town of Kansas Site is at the north end of Main Street at the Town of Kansas bridge (approximate location N39o6’40” W94o35’0”), north of 2nd Street, on the Riverfront Heritage Trail. The town site was between the river and 2nd Street between Delaware and Grand Streets. A historic marker at the north end of Main Street describes the founding of Kansas City at the site.

The French visited and described the area as early as 1713. In 1790, Auguste Chouteau was given trading rights in the area with the Kanza Indians. Lewis and Clark passed by the area in 1804 and 1806. They gathered pawpaw on their return trip in 1806. Chouteau’s Landing, a fir trading post on the Kansas River from 1818 to 1838, Kit Carson and John James Audubon passed through the area. Chouteau’s wife, Berenice Chouteau, lived in the town of Kansas until her death in 1888.

Settlement began in 1832 when Francois Chouteau built a warehouse to store westbound steamboat goods. In 1833, the Town of Westport was founded. In 1834, Westport Landing was established to receive steamboat deliveries. Westport landing was the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail beginning in the late 1830s. It was also used later as a starting point for the California and Oregon trails. Westport Landing is a site on the California, Oregon, Santa Fe, and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails. At the site, a rock ledge was used for riverboat landing.

The town prospered with the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848. In 1848, thousands went through Westport Landing on the way to the California gold rush. Beginning in 1855, the town of Kansas began taking down the bluff and by the 1870s, Main Street, Delaware, Walnut, and Market Streets had cut through the bluffs to the riverfront.  Also in the 1850s, hordes of people rushed through the city to establish the state of Kansas as either pro-slavery or abolitionist. The Gillis House Hotel, built in 1850 between Delaware and Wyandotte Streets on the bluff, housed many travelers after they disembarked at Westport Landing. In 1850, the Town of Kansas was chartered by Jackson County. Just west of Westport Landing was the first railroad bridge across the Missouri River. The Hannibal railroad bridge was completed in 1869. In 1889, the name was changed to Kansas City.

Traber Lafayette Garden (N39⁰6’46” W94⁰33’35”) is 1 acre on Pendleton Avenue, adjacent to and south of Kessler Park and north of Maple Park. This area is not currently being maintained as a garden (2020).

Joe Vaccaro Soda Water Manufacturing Company Building, 918-922 East 5th Street at Harrison Street (N39o6’38” W94o34’21”) dates to 1921. The building was part of the Kansas City Italian immigrant “colony.” In the building, the Vaccaro meeting hall provided a social gathering place and became the largest and most active reception hall in the Italian community of Kansas City. The Cliff Drive and Spirit of KC Scenic Byways Trail passes the building on 5th Street. The building is used for the Soda Lofts.

 

Natural and Cultural Features of Southern Kansas City, Part 2: Leawood, Overland Park, Prairie Village

southern KC Grandview Leawood

above link is to an orientation map of the area

This post includes parks in Kansas east of Metcalf Avenue and south of 71st Street.

National Historic Trail Sites

Santa Fe Trail Park (N38o59’54” W94o37’38”), 7727 Delmar Street in Prairie Village, features a disc golf course amid swales from the original Santa Fe Trail, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A National Historic Trails panel overlooks the trail ruts.

Weltner Park (N38o59’17” W94o36’31”) is at State Line Road and 78th Street in Prairie Village. National Historic Trail panels describe this location as the historic Nine-Mile Point, located 9 miles and 10 chains south of the mouth of the Kansas River. The first survey of the state line in 1823 indicated that the Santa Fe Trail crossed the state line at this point, after heading west from Swope Park area. The Santa Fe Trail was also surveyed a couple of years later, in 1825.

Johnson County Park

Meadowbrook Park (N38o57’42” W94o38’47”) is 80 acres on Nall Avenue at Somerset in Prairie Village. There are three miles of paved trails and three lakes, along with picnic shelters and a clubhouse.

Leawood

133rd Street shared-use trail extends from High Drive west to Nall Avenue.

137th Street Trail extends from Chadwick Road west to Nall Avenue.

143rd Street Shared-Use Trail extends from Aberdeen Street west to Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park.

Brook Beatty Park (N38o58’18” W94o36’57”) is on Lee Boulevard south of Meadow Lane and opposite of the 86th Terrace intersection. The small park has a playground adjacent to a stream. Trees include sycamore, redbud, and baldcypress.

City Park (N38o55’52” W94o37’6”) is 78 acres at 10601 Lee Boulevard just south of I-435. The park includes an aquatic center, soccer fields, tennis courts, baseball fields, and sand volleyball. The Indian Creek Greenway crosses the park.

Gezer Park (N38o53’13” W94o37’44”) is 10 acres at 133rd Street and Mission Road. A parking lot is on 133rd Street opposite Pawnee Lane. The park reflects the geography of Israel and is named after the Gezer Regional Council in Israel that participates as a sister city to Leawood. The park includes water features representing the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, and Jordan River. Other features are a vineyard, Havdalah Gardens, and the Golan Heights. A replica of the Gezer Calendar, dating to 1600 BCE, which was excavated from the Tel Gezer archaeological site, is also in the park. A walking trail which circles the park passes many of the features, including a playground. Trees include London planetree, columnar juniper, eastern white pine, dawn redwood, shingle oak, and swamp white oak. A shared-use path along 133rd Street borders the park.

I-Lan Park (N38o54’5” W94o38’53”) is 11 acres at 125th Street and Nall Road, including 2 shelters, a playground, and a restroom. The park commemorates the sister city partnership of Leawood with I-Lan, a city and county in Taiwan. A bridge in the city in Taiwan has been named the Leawood Bridge. There is a Chinese-themed shelter and a public artwork, the Cloud Gate. The Tomahawk Creek bicycle-pedestrian trail and a bicycle-pedestrian loop are in the park.

Indian Creek Greenway extends from the Missouri State Line upstream to Mission Road, where it continues west into Overland Park. The greenway is part of the American Discovery Trail.

Ironwoods Park (N38o51’38” W94o37’28”) is 111 acres at 147th Street and Mission Road. In the park are the Prairie Oak Nature Center, Oxford School House, and walking trails. The paved walking trails are in two loops making a figure 8. A spur walking trail leads from the playground west to Mission Road. A second spur is a shared-use path extending from the amphitheater parking lot north to Norwood Street near 143rd Street. To the south of a pond is the unpaved Raccoon Hollow Nature trail, which is about 100 yards long. Historical panels at the park describe the Black Bob Shawnee Reservation and the Oxford Schoolhouse.

The Black Bob Shawnee Reservation was 33,400 acres, located in Indian Territory (present-day Kansas) west of New Santa Fe. The Shawnee were removed from east of the Mississippi and established a town near the Coffee Creek and Wolf Creek confluence, which is today north of 179th and Antioch. Lands of the reservation were allotted to individual tribal members before the Civil War. After the Civil War, reservation lands were occupied by whites, leading to legal disputes. In the 1870s, President Rutherford Hayes ordered the Shawnee to move to Oklahoma.

The Oxford Schoolhouse was moved to Ironwoods Park from Mission Road and 135th Street, just to the north. The park was part of the historic Oxford Township, which was bordered by 95th Street on the north, 167th Street on the south, Black Bob Road/Lackman Road on the west, and the Missouri state line on the east. The township is famous for the Oxford Fraud, which took place during the Kansas statehood organization in 1856. In the election of 1857, there were 1,628 pro-slavery votes cast in the township. Most of the names were revealed to be part of an old Cincinnati directory. The Secretary of State would not certify the election and Kansas threw out the votes. This angered southern Democrats, causing a split in the Democratic Party, and leading to the election of Lincoln, the candidate of the Republican Party, in 1860.

Lee Boulevard Trail extends from Mission Road east to Leawood City Park, passing the Leawood Wastewater Facility.

Leawoof Dog Park (N38o55’59” W94o36’42”) is 8 acres accessible from Leawood City Park by crossing the bridge on the Indian Creek Greenway Trail.

Tomahawk Creek Greenway is 4.1 miles, extending from the Indian Creek Greenway at College Boulevard southwest to I-Lan Park. The trail continues into Overland Park. A spur leads from Tomahawk Park east to the intersection of 123rd Street and Mission Road.

Tomahawk Park (N38o54’40” W94o38’2”) is on 119th Street between Mission Road and Tomahawk Creek Parkway. It includes a playground and a section of the Tomahawk Creek Greenway.

Town Center Drive Shared-Use Trail extends from Nall Avenue to Tomahawk Creek Parkway.

The Herman J. and Ella B. Voights House (private), 2405 West 103rd Street (N38o56’30” W94o37’10”), is listed on the NRHP as an example of prairie-style architecture. It dates to 1923.

Overland Park

110th Street Trail leads west from Nall avenue to Lamar Avenue, passing by the Overland Park Convention Center.

135th Street Shared-Use Trail extends from Nall Avenue west to Lamar Street.

137th Street Shared-Use Trail extends from Chadwick Road in Leawood west to Lamar Avenue in Overland Park.

141st Street Shared-Use Trail extends from Lamar Avenue west to Metcalf Avenue.

143rd Street Shared-Use Trail extends from Aberdeen Street in Leawood west to Metcalf Avenue.

159th Street Shared-Use Trail extends from Mission Road west to Metcalf Avenue.

Beth Torah Park (N38o54’4” W94o39’27”) is 12 acres between Lamar Avenue and 127th Street. A greenway bicycle-pedestrian trail follows an unnamed tributary to Tomahawk Creek and passes the confluence with Tomahawk Creek. Access is from Lamar Avenue. Trees include hackberry, walnut, bur oak, chinkapin oak, black oak, sycamore, elm, and ash.

Creekside Park (N38o50’45” W94o39’7”) is 20 acres at 15599 Nall Avenue, between Nall Avenue and Lamar Avenue. Near Nall Avenue is a playground. One paved greenway trail extends from Nall Avenue or Reeds Street to Beverly Street and across it to a dead end between 156th and 157th Street. A second follows the creek to Lamar Avenue. The greenway trails follow a riparian area along Negro Creek and a tributary creek.

Empire Estates Park (N38o57’8” W94o38’22”) is 1 acre at 9640 Roe Avenue, between 97th Street and Catalina Street, including a playground. A riparian area and stream are behind the playground. Trees include pin oak, maple, and swamp white oak.

Foxhill North Park (N38o56’12” W94o38’8”) is 21 acres at 10600 Indian Creek Parkway, along the Indian Creek Greenway Trail east of Roe Avenue. It includes a playground and soccer field.

Foxhill South Park (N38o55’52” W94o37’58”) is 6 acres at the end of El Monte Street, providing a parking lot for the Indian Creek Greenway.

Green Meadows Park (N38o50’59” W94o39’31”) is 18 acres at 15401 Beverly Court, featuring a playground and 0.7-mile trail. The trail extends from Glenwood Avenue southeast to the greenway in Creekside Park, which extends to Nall Avenue. Access points to the greenway are Beverly Court north of 156th Street, 153rd Street at 152nd Terrace, Lamar Avenue between 153rd Street and 155th Street, and Glenwood Avenue at 152nd Street. The greenway follows a riparian area along Negro Creek.

Hawthorne Valley Park (N38o54’20” W94o38’31”) is 14 acres at 12300 Roe Avenue. The Tomahawk Creek greenway trail crosses the park.

Indian Creek Greenway extends from Foxhill South Park along Indian Creek to Roe Park, continuing through Nall Hills Park, James Place Park, and Pinehurst East Park, crossing under Metcalf Avenue. It is part of the American Discovery Trail.

James Place Park (N38o56’25” W94o39’40”) is 16 acres along Indian Creek between 103rd Street and Lamar Avenue. There is a playground and picnic shelter. Access is by following Indian Creek bicycle-pedestrian trail south of 103rd Street, adjacent to the entrance road into Promise and Indian Creek nursing facilities. Indian Creek Greenway Trail crosses the park.

Lamar Avenue Shared-Use Path extends from 150th Street north to 133rd Street.

Linwood Park (N38o56’56” W94o37’55”) is 3 acres behind the Reverend Robert and Shirley Meneilly Center for Mission of Village Presbyterian Church. The park includes a playground. Access is from 99th Street. Maple, sweetgum, and red oak trees surround the playground.

Metcalf Avenue Shared-Use Trail extends in four sections. One section extends north from College Boulevard north to 87th Street. A second section extends from the Tomahawk Creek greenway south to 141st Street. A third section extends from 147th Street south to 149th Street. A fourth section extends from 152nd Terrace south to 159th Street.

Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, 5801 West 115th Street, #106, is a partner site of the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.

Nall Avenue Trail extends from 159th Street north to Creekside Park, and 137th Street north to Indian Creek.

Nall Park south to 135th Street, connecting the Indian Creek Greenway, Tomahawk Creek Greenway, 110th Street Trail, 133rd Street Trail, and 135th Street Trail.

Nall Park (N38o56’18” W94o38’50”) is 13 acres at 10440 Nall Avenue, featuring a playground and soccer field. The Indian Creek Greenway Trail crosses the park.

Nall Hills Park (N38o56’20” W94o39’4”) is 28 acres at 5501 Indian Creek Drive. The park includes a playground. The Indian Creek Greenway Trail crosses the park. A historical panel to the south of Indian Creek near Nall Avenue describes John Nall, a 19th century resident of the area. Nall was a native of North Carolina who settled in Johnson County after 1859. His farm was locally famous for its fruit, and he sold peaches at the City Market. At the north end of Nall Avenue (at 49th Street) was the Shawnee Baptist Mission, where a magazine was published in the Shawnee language from 1835 to 1844. In modern times, major developments that have taken place along Nall Avenue include the headquarters of the NCAA and Sprint (now T-Mobile).  The Nall Hills subdivision was an early suburban development in Johnson County. The area is also the demographic center of the Kansas City Jewish community, with many institutions located along Nall. A second historical panel on the north side of Indian Creek near Lamar Avenue describes Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, for whom the street was named. He was a Mississippian who never visited the area. Lamar served in the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, was involved in the 1876 compromise that placed Rutherford B. Hayes in the presidency and ended Reconstruction in the South. He was secretary of Interior under President Grover Cleveland and served on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nottingham Downs Park (N38o59’24” W94o38’41”) is 14 acres between Lamar Avenue and 123rd Street. A greenway bicycle-pedestrian trail leads from Lamar Avenue just south of 125th Street north to 123rd Street, with an additional access at Walmer Street.  Scattered picnic tables are along the greenway, which features a riparian area with a rocky stream, a tributary to Tomahawk Creek. Trees include honey locust, hackberry, bur oak, swamp white oak, shagbark hickory, chinkapin oak, and walnut.

Osage Park (N38o58’19” W94o39’34”) is 6 acres at 87th Street and Lamar Street, including a walking path, playground, and shelter. A parking lot is on 87th Street. Trees include sycamore, sugar maple, swamp white oak, mulberry, pin oak, golden rain tree, hackberry, elm, red oak, walnut, ash, ginkgo, and white oak.

Pinehurst East Park (N38o56’32” W94o39’53”) is 12 acres at 10210 Glenwood Road. The Indian Creek Greenway Trail crosses the park.

Museum at Prairiefire (N38o52’55” W94o39’8”) is a partner site of Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.

Prairie View Park (N38o59’43” W94o39’9”) is 2 acres at Outlook Street and 74th Street west of Nall Avenue. Access is from 74th Street and via a walkway from the end of Reeds Lane north of 75th Street. There is a basketball court, picnic shelter, and playground. A riparian area and tributary to Brush Creek are crossed by a bridge. Trees include red oak, white pine, hackberry, pin oak, and swamp white oak.

Regency Lake Park (N38o51’35” W94o39’40”) is 14 acres at 14800 Lamar Street, featuring a playground, picnic tables, fishing piers, and a ½ mile trail encircling the lake.

Roe Park (N38o56’22” W94o38’29”) is 41 acres at 10400 Roe Avenue, including a splash pad, tennis courts, soccer fields, and shelters. The Indian Creek Greenway Trail crosses the park, and a spur trail loops around the park and leads to 103rd Street.

Tomahawk Creek Greenway is 149 acres and extends from the Indian Creek greenway just south of College Avenue south to Tomahawk Park at 119th Street, Hawthorne Valley Park at Roe Avenue, and I-Lan Park at Nall Avenue. It continues southwest and crosses Metcalf Avenue.

Wilderness Lake Park (N38o50’15” W94o38’28”) is 17 acres at 16001 Rosewood Drive, including a playground, picnic tables, and a 0.6-mile trail which encircles a stocked fishing lake. Access is from 161st street and 163rd Terrace.

Prairie Village

Bennett Park (N38o59’24” W94o38’41”) is at 77th Street and Rosewood Drive, featuring baseball fields, a picnic area, a loop trail, and playground equipment. Trees include shingle oak, red elm, redbud, Siberian elm, serviceberry, ginkgo, and honey locust.

Ralph E. Carroll Memorial Plaza (N38o59’36” W94o37’50”) is at the northwest corner of West 75th Street and Mission Road, featuring a fountain and plantings. Golden rain tree, red cedar, and swamp white oak provide shade.

Franklin Park (N38o58’15” W94o38’21”) is 12 acres at Roe Avenue and Somerset Drive, featuring a picnic pavilion and ballfield. The park is part of the Prairie Village Arboretum. Trees include royal star magnolia, dawn redwood, ginkgo, Kousa dogwood, paper bark maple, Pacific sunset maple, constellation dogwood, honey locust, Kentucky coffeetree, serviceberry, red oak, hackberry, bald cypress, swamp white oak, pin oak, and shingle oak. A row of Osage orange trees extends through the center of the park. A shared-use path extends south to Meadowbrook Park along Roe Avenue and north along Somerset Drive to Mission Road.

Harmon Park (N38o59’18” W94o38’0”) is 18 acres at West 77th Place and Delmar Street, featuring a pool, trails, playground, tennis courts, and a community garden. Adjacent to the south is Santa Fe Trail Park (N38o59’54” W94o37’38”), 7727 Delmar Street, featuring a disc golf course. Santa Fe Trail Park includes swales from the original Santa Fe Trail, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A National Historic Trail panel overlooks the trail ruts. To the east of Santa Fe Trail Park is Skate Park (N38o59’22” W94o37’50), a skateboard area between the City Hall, art gallery, community center, and fire station. Trees include honey locust and maple.

Mission Road Shared-Use Trail extends from Somerset to 71st Street.

Porter Park (N38o59’45” W94o38’22”) is 8 acres at Roe Avenue and Tomahawk Road, featuring baseball, soccer, a picnic shelter, and walking paths. It is the former location of Porter School. With Franklin Park, it serves as the Prairie Village Arboretum. A trail along Tomahawk Road extends north to 71st Street. Brush Creek forms the park boundary on the east. Trees that may be viewed include shingle oak, chinkapin oak, overcup oak, American hornbeam, sycamore, London plane tree, white pine, Kentucky coffeetree, tuliptree, littleleaf linden, Jane magnolia, serviceberry, black tupelo, paper bark maple,  frontier elm, ginkgo, black walnut, sweetgum, redbud, golden rain tree, and sweet magnolia.

Roe Avenue Shared-Use Trail extends from Meadowbrook Park to Somerset Drive.

Somerset Shared-Use Path extends from Roe Avenue to Mission Road.

Talliaferro Park, formerly Meadow Lake Park (N38o59’12” W94o37’10) is at 2900 West 79th Street between Norwood Drive and Aberdeen Street, featuring a trail, picnic tables, tennis court, basketball, soccer, and baseball. Trees include honey locust and linden.

Tomahawk Road Shared-Use Path extends from Roe Avenue to Oxford Road

Weltner Park (N38o59’17” W94o36’31”) is at State Line Road and 78th Street, featuring basketball, volleyball, and picnic areas. National Historic Trail panels describe this location as the historic Nine-Mile Point, located 9 miles and 10 chains south of the mouth of the Kansas River.

Windsor Park (N38o59’54” W94o37’38”) is 6 acres at 7200 Windsor Street. The park is between Windsor Street and St. Ann Catholic School, featuring tennis, volleyball, picnic pavilion, baseball diamond, picnic shelter, and playground. A walking trail passes labeled trees and includes several bridges over a tributary to Brush Creek. Parking is along Windsor Street at Canterbury Street. Trees include black oak, American hophornbeam, American elm, American linden, Amur maple, baldcypress, black cherry, black oak, white pine, ginkgo, northern red oak, Nuttall oak, white oak, pin oak, shingle oak, mulberry, and Kentucky coffeetree.

Iberian Sclerophyllous and Semi-Deciduous Forests

Iberian sclerophyllous and semi-deciduous forests include holm oak forests mostly transformed into an agricultural landscape of olive and almond groves. In wilder spots, a dense shrubland called maquis is found. There are wild olive and carob woodlands. A number of endangered animals are hanging on in the ecoregion, including the Iberian lynx, the Spanish imperial eagle, and the great bustard. Wolves are also present. An endemic shrub, Securineia tinctora, is found in the Guadiana and Tajo river basins.

World Heritage Sites

Alhambra, Generalife, and Albayzin World Heritage Site (N37o11’ W3o35’) recognizes the remains of Arabic Spain from the 13th to the 15th centuries. The Alhambra (red castle) has been called Spain’s most beautiful monument and one of the best examples of Islamic art and architecture in the world.

The Alhambra was built in 1333 as a fortified castle and was used as a royal palace. It was modified by Christians in 16th century. The structure reflects the last centuries of Muslim rule in Spain. It is the only completely preserved complex from the Islamic period. After the Christian conquest in 1527, Charles V built a Renaissance palace within the Alhambra which sharply contrasts with the rest of the complex, and the mosque was replaced by a church. In 1829 the American writer Washington Irving stayed at the Alhambra and was instrumental in publicizing it to the world.

The Generalife was the vegetable garden and rural residence of the emirs, known for intelligent use of water from an aqueduct.

The Alhambra and Albayzin are on two adjacent hills, separated by the Darro River. The Albayzin has been continuously occupied since the Arabic period. A residential district that retains its Moorish vernacular architecture, it is a medieval town with narrow streets and small squares, the best illustration of Moorish town planning. It was enhanced by Christian contributions of Spanish Renaissance and Baroque elements.

Historic Center of Évora World Heritage Site (N38o34’ W7o54’) protects the medieval walled city that was undamaged during the 1755 earthquake that devastated other cities. Within the city are 20 centuries of history, but Évora’s golden age was the 15th century, when it was the residence of Portuguese kings. It is the finest example of the architecture of the golden age of Portugal and was the model for the architecture of much of Brazil. Ruins of the royal palace of Évora are in the public gardens. Still visible today are the Roman temple and the Roman aqueduct, the 13th century Cathedral of Évora, and the 15th century Santa Clara convent, São Francisco convent and church (including the Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones), and São João Evangelista church and Os Lóios Convent. At the Capela dos Ossos, the walls are covered with skulls and bones. The center of town is Giraldo Square. Along the streets are whitewashed houses decorated with tiles (azuelos) and wrought-iron balconies from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Biosphere Reserve

Parque Natural de la Sierra de Grazalema is an International Biosphere Reserve with limestone caverns, high peaks, and rare plants and animals including the endemic Spanish fir and Egyptian vultures. Cork oak and holm oak groves are present. Rainfall in the park is noted as the highest in Spain. White villages within the park include:

  • Zahara de la Sierra (N36o50’ W5o24’), a high elevation town with a view of a reservoir and a castle built in the 13th century by the Moors.
  • Grazalema (N36o46’ W5o22’), a high elevation village built in the Moslem era. It is famous for textiles made from wool. The main square has a church, bars, and restaurants.

Other sites:

Convento do Espinheiro Hotel, Évora, Portugal (N38o36’5” W7o53’20”) dates to 1458 on the site where an apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen above a thorn bush (espinheiro). The facility was visited frequently by Portuguese royalty.

Monsaraz (N38o26’36” W7o22’51”) is a medieval walled town on an isolated mountaintop in eastern Portugal. Dramatic views are possible from the town and the fort. Medieval fortifications enclose a castle and the town and were built in the 12th to 14th centuries. Additional fortifications were added in the 17th century after the restoration of Portuguese independence. The new fortifications were responsive to the invention of firearms. In the former town hall of the municipality of Monsaraz is the Museu do Fresco. The frescoe was discovered in 1958 during renovations to the structure and was located behind a wall. It is believed to date to the 14th century and depicts good and bad government similar to a 1340 painting in Siena, Italy. Also in town is the House of the Inquisition, which contains a museum about Jewish residents prior to the Reconquest.

Olivenza, Extremadura Autonomous Region, Spain (N38o41’ W7o6’) is administered as part of Extremadura but is claimed by Portugal based on treaties dating back to 1297. Although the Guadiana River is the de facto boundary between the two countries, the border is not shown on a Portuguese highway map purchased in Lisbon (Turinta Mapas, Portugal, 1:600.000), suggesting the boundary is in dispute. The town contains Manueline (Portuguese) architecture, and the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena exemplifies this architectural style.

A city since Roman times, Ronda (N36o45’ W5o10’) is the largest of Andalucia’s white villages, with a population of was conquered first by the Berbers in 713 and then by the Christians in 1485. A railroad was completed to the mountain town (elevation 2,460 feet) from Algeciras in 1892 to provide relief from the heat of Gibraltar in the summer. Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent time in the city.

Arab baths at the entrance to city in the river gorge at Ronda (El Tajo) are the best preserved in Spain. The baths are at the confluence of the Culebras Creek with the Guadelevín River, which ensured a reliable water supply. The Arab baths were used as steam baths. It was obligatory for all outsiders visiting the city to use them. The baths were in an area of small shops including potters and tanners.

The Puente Nuevo (New bridge) was completed over the Rio Guadelevín in 1793. It is 390 feet above El Tajo canyon floor. The former town hall is now a hotel adjacent to the bridge.

Plaza de Toros de Ronda is the oldest bull ring in Spain, dating to 1572. The current complex contains a horse-training facility and a museum of bullfighting in addition to the bull ring.

The Museum of Ronda is in Mondragon Palace, which was the palace of Moorish kings after 1314. It exhibits three architectural styles, including a Mudehar-style patio, Castillian-style patio, and Noble Hall, with a flat alfarje ceiling. Exhibits track the archaeological history of the area from caves in the mountains dating to 500,000 years before present through the Late Antiquity period after the Romans.

Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria, Ronda (N36o44’48” W5o10’10”) was built in 1906 on a cliff overlooking the mountains. It was the residence of the poet and writer Rainer Maria Rilke, who was born in Prague and wrote in the German language on existential themes.

 

Southwest Iberian Mediterranean sclerophyllous and mixed forests

Southwest Iberian Mediterranean sclerophyllous and mixed forests (PA 1221) are found on the Atlantic coastal strip of southern Portugal and Spain, especially in the Guadiana, Tajo, and Guadalquivir River basins. The most common forest is of cork oaks, mixed with other genera such as Laurus, Arbutus, Erica, and Ilex. Holm oak and holly oak are also common. Scleroophyllous forests typically have evergreen leaves, which are thick and leathery and small to conserve water.

World Heritage Sites within this ecoregion include:

Monastery of Batalha World Heritage Site, Leiria District,Portugal (N39o39’33” W8o49’34”) was constructed at the end of the 14th century. It is considered a masterpiece of Gothic art. King John I built the structure in gratitude for a victory at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 over the Castilians, in which King John obtained the throne and independence of Portugal. In the chapel are the tombs of the king and his wife, as well as his sons.

Complex of Belem (Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belem) World Heritage Site, Lisbon Municipality, Portugal, includes the Tower of Belem (Torre de Belem) and the Jeronimos Monastery (Hieronymites Monastery). Both commemorate Portuguese power in the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Tower of Belem (N38o41’30” W9o12’57”) was built on a small island from 1514 to 1520 for defense of the Tagus estuary and is considered an architectural jewel of its time. It commemorates the maritime discoveries of Portugal and is a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The nearby Hieronymites Monastery (N38o41’50” W9o12’25”) was built to provide spiritual assistance to seafarers and to pray for the king.

The University of Coimbra World Heritage Site, Coimbra District, Portugal (N40o12’30’ W8o25’30”), includes the hilltop campus and botanical gardens of the university (Alta area), including the hilltop the Royal Palace of Alcazaba (Paco das Escolas or University Palace) and the Joanine Library with baroque décor and documents extending back to medieval times; as well as buildings along Sofia Street (N40o12’44” W8o25’47”) including the 12th century Cathedral of Santa Cruz. As the country’s oldest university (dating from 1290), Coimbra played a key role in the institutional and architectural development of universities throughout the Portuguese colonies. It has outstanding universal value as a university city hilltop location for the Portuguese world encompassing four continents in the colonial era.

Historic Center of Córdoba World Heritage Site, Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain, includes the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, the Judería, the Roman Bridge, the Torre de la Calahorra, and Molino de Albolafia (flour mills). Other notable sites are the Sinagoga, Caballerizas Reales (Royal Stables), and Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos (Fortress of Christian Monarchs). This area became urban in Roman times and has subsequently been occupied for thousands of years by Visigoth, Islam, Judaism, and Christian peoples. In the 8th century, 300 mosques, other palaces, and other public buildings were built in the city, and Cordoba was the main urban and cultural focus of the western world.

  • Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba (N37o52’45” W4o46’45”), or the Great Mosque, is one of the world’s greatest Islamic buildings and the most important monument in the western Islamic world. Construction began in 786 and it was expanded to its current size in 991. Unique features are double arches in the roof, a ribbed vault with intertwined arches, and 856 columns, some recycled from Roman ruins, to hold up the arches. The arches have a distinctive terracotta and white-striped pattern. An intricate mihrab, or prayer niche, faces Mecca. With the conquest of Córdoba in 1236, the mosque was converted into a church. The church is known as the Capilla Mayor, and is a Gothic chapel built completely inside of the mosque in the 15th A Renaissance cathedral was built inside the mosque in the 16th and 17th centuries. Entrance to the Mosque-Cathedral is through the Patio of the Oranges, which has orange trees and fountains.
  • Judería (Jewish Quarter) is to the west and north of the Great Mosque. The narrow cobblestone streets and whitewashed walls are typical of Andalusia. However, there are also the Courtyard Houses of Córdoba, which are distinctive in being communal and built around interior courtyards. This design is believed to be of Roman origin. The Andalusian touch is the hanging flower gardens that adorn the walls of the courtyards, with a fountain in the middle and a well to catch rainwater. Some patios date to the 10th The annual Courtyards Festival in May is a World Heritage Event.
  • Puente Romano (Roman bridge) features 16 arches and its appearance was enhanced by an 8th century Moorish reconstruction. It was featured in the Game of Thrones television series. Today it is a pedestrian-only bridge.
  • Museum Torre de la Calahorra (N37o52’32” W4o46’36”) is in a tower built to protect the Roman bridge and guard the entrance to the city that is noted during the Islamic Period. In 1369, additions were made to make the tower a more effective defensive structure. The museum features exhibits on life in Córdoba during the 10th century when Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived there.
  • Molino de Albolafia includes a water wheel which has been on the city logo since the 13th They are first believed to be built by Romans but are also known to have carried water to the Emir’s palaces in the Islamic period. They were taken out of operation during the Christian reconquest.
  • Sinagoga dates to 1315 and was believed to be a family synagogue.
  • Caballerizas Reales date to 1567.
  • Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos is the palace where Ferdinand and Isabella met Columbus and dates to the 13th and 14th

Cathedral, Alcázar, and Archivo de Indies in Seville World Heritage Site (N37o23’0” W5o59’30”) commemorates three adjacent buildings in Seville, Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. Together, they are an exceptional testimony to the civilization of Islamic and Christian Andalusia. The sites epitomize the Spanish golden age, with vestiges of Islamic culture, Christian ecclesiastical power, royal sovereignty, and trading power.

  • Real Alcázar and Gardens of Sevilla, begun in the 10th century as the palace of the Moslem governor, was reconstructed on the same site by Moorish workers working for the Christian King, Peter the Cruel of Castile, in the 1360s. It is currently used as the Spanish royal family residence when in Seville and is the oldest royal palace in Europe still being used. The palatial buildings and extensive garden display cultural treasures from the Renaissance to Neoclassical periods. It is directly associated with the discovery of the New World and its colonization, for within the Alcazar is Cuarto del Almirante, or Admiral’s Hall, headquarters of the House of Trade with the Americas, where plans for history’s greatest expeditions were made, including Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe. The Italian Renaissance gardens extend south from the Alcazar. Episodes of the Game of Thrones TV series were filmed at the Alcazar.
  • Jewish Quarter (Santa Cruz district) occupies the city adjacent to the Alcazar. A wall was constructed to separate Jews from the rest of the city following the Reconquest. After 1391, most Jews left after the reconquest persecuted the population of non-Christians.
  • Catedral de Sevilla (Cathedral of St. Mary of the See) is the largest Gothic cathedral (seat of the bishop) in the world and one of the largest churches in the world. It was constructed from 1184 to 1198 as a mosque. Following the reconquest in 1248, the mosque was used as a Cathedral. The Gothic Cathedral was constructed between 1434 and 1517. In the 1500s, Renaissance-period works were added, and in the 1600s Baroque phases were added. Inside the cathedral are several tombs, including that of Christopher Columbus. Giralda Tower on the east wall is the former minaret of the mosque and is now used as the bell tower of the cathedral. It dates to 1195 and is considered a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. The top of the tower can be reached by a walkway of 34 ramps and a final flight of stairs.
  • The General Archive of the Indies dates to 1598 and contains valuable historic documents on the colonization of the Americas. The building is Spanish Renaissance architecture and is between the Cathedral and Alcazar.

The Cultural Landscape of Sintra, Lisbon District, Portugal, is described as “an extraordinary and unique complex of parks, gardens, palaces, country houses, monasteries and castles, which create an architecture that harmonizes with the exotic and overgrown vegetation, creating micro-landscapes of exotic and luxuriant beauty…This syncretism between nature and ancient monuments, villas and quintas [estates] with monasteries and chalets influenced the development of landscape architecture throughout Europe.” (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/723 ). The following properties are included in the World Heritage site:

  • The Convent of the Capuchos (Arrabalde convent) (N38o47’3” W9o26’17”) was founded in 1374, destroyed in a 1755 earthquake, rebuilt, and abandoned in 1834.
  • The Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla (N38o47’6” W9o23’57”) was built as a retreat in the 19th century for King Fernando II and his future wife, the Countess of Edla.
  • The Park and Palace of Montserrate (N38o47’40” W9o25’15”) was built in the 19th century and is considered one of the most beautiful architectural and landscape Romantic properties in Portugal. The Farmyard of Monserrate served the palace of Montserrate and today is managed to reflect the cultural heritage of agriculture in the region.
  • The Moorish Castle (N38o47’33” W9o23’21”) was built in the 8th and 9th
  • The Park and Palace of Pena (N38o47’15” W9o23’25”) are the greatest expression of European Romanticism in Portugal, built by King Ferdinand II in the 19th It is one of the seven wonders of Portugal. The gardens contain 500 tree species. The Pena Farm and Stables were used for carriage rides and contain a hillside planted with tea.
  • The National Palace of Sintra (N38o47’51” W9o23’26”) is in the town center. A grandiose and magnificent palace of the kings of Portugal, it is the best preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal. It was built as a Moorish fort in the 11th century, conquered by Christians in 1147, and improved by various kings from 1281 to the 16th The silhouette has remained the same since the 16th century. The palace retains geometric tiles and arched windows of Moorish era. Distinctive cone-shaped chimneys are visible in the kitchen area. One of the most important features of the national palace is facing with tiles, the finest example on the Iberian Peninsula. Management of the state-owned property is by Parques de Sintra-Monte da Lua, S.A., a non-profit corporation.
  • Other buildings in the World Heritage site are the Palace of Seteais (late 18th /early 19th century), the Regaleira estate (late 17th century), the Town Hall (early 20th century), and 4 churches in Sintra.

International Biosphere Reserve in the ecoregion:

Parque Natural de la Sierra de Grazalema, Cádiz Province, Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain, is an International Biosphere Reserve with limestone caverns, high peaks, and rare plants and animals including the endemic Spanish fir and Egyptian vultures. Cork oak and holm oak groves are present. Rainfall in the park is noted as the highest in Spain.  White villages within the park include:

  • Quesos El Bosqueño (N36o45’ E5o31’), an artisan cheese-making factory in the village of El Bosque (the forest), which makes traditional cheeses from goat and sheep milk.
  • Zahara de la Sierra (N36o50’ W5o24’), a high elevation town with a view of a reservoir and a castle built in the 13th century by the Moors.

Other sites in the ecoregion of note include:

Coimbra District, Portugal

Conimbriga Museum and Archaeological Park (N40o5’57” W8o29’37”), Condeixa-a-Nova, Portugal, preserves the remains of a large Roman settlement, which was constructed by the Romans from their arrival in 139 BC until barbarian invasions in 468. It is considered the best-preserved Roman ruin in Portugal.  The walled settlement was served by an aqueduct, baths, and Roman road, which can still be viewed. The Repuxos House (Fountain House) contains a garden with original irrigation system and 500 water jets which are still operational.

Pousada de Coindeixa Coimbra, Condeixa-a-Nova (N40o7’2” W8o29’4”), is a restored building used as a hotel on the site of the 16th century former palace of the Almadas, a noble family.

Evora District, Portugal

Cromeleque dos Almendres (N38o33’27” W8o3’40”) is a double circle of 95 stones erected about 5000 B.C. This makes it 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the oldest megalithic monument in Europe. The monument is associated with the development of Neolithic communities in Europe. The stones’ flattened side faces the sun, and some have geometric carvings. The stone circles are a short walk from a parking area on a hilltop forested with cork oak trees. The hilltop is the drainage dividing line of the three largest rivers in Portugal, the Tagus, Sado, and Guadiana. The site is accessible from the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe via signed dirt roads. On the drive to the parking area is another marked side trail to the Menhir dos Almendres (N38o33’50” W8o2’54”), a single granite monolith rising 4 meters. A line from the menhir to the stone circle marks sunrise in the summer solstice.

Lisbon District, Portugal

Palace of the Arches (Vila Gale Collection Palacio dos Arcos, Paco de Arcos, Oeiras Municipality, Lisbon District, Portugal), is a hotel built in the 15th century; the king watched ships leaving for India from the balcony. The current hotel is dedicated to Portuguese poetry, with verses from famous poetry on the walls of public areas. Public gardens are adjacent to the palace (N38o41’48” W9o17’21”).

Lisbon Municipality sites include:

  • National Azuelejo (Tile) Museum (N38o43’28” W9o6’50”) displays hundreds of ornate patterns in the rooms of the former Convent of Madre Deus, 1509. The decorative tiles date from the 15th century to the present. Also, ceramics and porcelain are also displayed.
  • The Alfama District (N38o43’ W9o8’) of Lisbon is a former Muslim district with a maze of narrow streets and home of Fado music.
  • Restoration Square (Restauradores) (N38o43’ W9o8’30”) and Baixa District (downtown) including the Santa Justa elevator. The name celebrates the restoration of the independence of Portugal in 1640, after 60 years of having a shared king with Spain.
  • Parque Eduardo VII (N38o43’50” W9o9’17”) provides a panoramic view of Lisbon and the Tejo (Tagos) River from a hill above the city. It was named for an English king who visited in 1902.

Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais is 14,583 ha and includes megalithic monuments, the Guincho-Oitavas dunes, Guincho Beach, Ribafria estate, Ramalhao Palace, the Sanctuary of Peninha, and the Cultural Landscape of Sintra World Heritage Site. It is the westernmost point on the European continent. The Cultural Landscape of Sintra World Heritage Site (see) is within this park. Also, the coastal overlook, rocky coastline, and wildflowers at Cape Raso, Guincho Beach, Cascais Municipality (N38o43’ W9o29’), are part of the park. A view to the north is of Cape Roca, the westernmost point in the European continent.

National Palace and Gardens of Queluz (N38o45’0” W9o15’30”), Sintra Municipality, Lisbon District, Portugal, is a royal residence located west of Lisbon. It is a landmark of both Portuguese architecture and landscape design from the 18th and 19th centuries and includes baroque, rococo, and neoclassical influence. It is sometimes compared with Versailles. The structure was built as a summer palace in 1747 and transferred to state management in 1908. The Queluz Gardens surround the palace on three sides and include a botanical garden, a channel for boat or gondola rides, a maze garden, hanging garden, and Malta garden. Management of the state-owned property is by Parques de Sintra-Monte da Lua, S.A., a non-profit corporation.

Santarém District, Portugal

Campanhia das Lezirias is a state-run farm located at the confluence of the Tagus and Sado Rivers. It is currently 20,000 ha in area and is managed for agriculture (rice), cattle, breeding of Lusitano horses (the oldest saddle horse breed in the world), and forestry.  The farm includes the Estate Monte de Braco de Prata (restaurant, horse sports activity center, and stud farm (N38o52’47” W8o51’45”), the cork oak forest (N38o49’ W8o51’), and the Catapereiro Winery (N38o48’47” W8o52’56”).

Cádiz Province, Andalusia, Spain

Arcos de la Frontera (N36o44’52” W5o48’24”) is dramatically positioned on a rocky cliff above the Guadalete River. There is a tangled labyrinth of cobblestone streets with a castle at the high point. The castle has shields of the Dukes of Arcos on the outside. An overlook and hotel are adjacent to the castle. The town was at the frontier in the 13th century battles with the Moors.

Seville Province, Andalusia, Spain

Hotel Inglaterra, Sevilla, is an 1857 hotel is located on Plaza Nueva (N37o23’20” W5o59’45”), opposite the city hall. It features a rooftop bar with a panoramic view of the city including the cathedral. In the 19th century, monarchs visiting Seville stayed at the Iglaterra Inn. Behind the city hall was a prison that held Cervantes. During his time in jail in 1598 he conceived the idea of Don Quixote, the most influential work of Spanish literature.

Plaza de España, Sevilla (N37o22’35” W5o59’10”), was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 as a semi-circular brick building in the Renaissance style. It was the location for the filming of movies such as Star Wars and Lawrence of Arabia. Today it offers a park-like setting along the Guadalquivir River.

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.

 

Sierra Nevada Forests, part 3A: Yosemite

The discussion in the next series of posts focuses on the area around Yosemite National Park, including the adjoining national forests. This post describes the Yosemite World Heritage Site.

Yosemite World Heritage Site

There is one World Heritage Site in the Sierra Nevada forests ecoregion. Yosemite National Park, California, is 748,000 acres carved by the glacial erosion of granite, resulting in perhaps the world’s most famous national park landscape. The distinctive landscape of hanging valleys, waterfalls, cirque lakes, polished domes, moraines, and U-shaped valleys. Major park areas are the Yosemite Valley, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, which is in a roadless area between Tuolumne Meadows and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Tuolumne Grove, Mariposas Grove, Wawona Dome and Chilnualna Fall, and Glacier Point. The high meadows between 4500 and 7000 feet are part of the Sierra Meadows South important bird area (IBA). One of the few trans-mountain roads in the southern Sierra Nevada is the Tioga Road, which passes through Tuolumne Meadows. The Sierra Nevada Research Station of the University California Natural Reserve System is located in Wawona along the South Fork of the Merced River. Most of the park is also designated as the 704,600-acre Yosemite Wilderness. Exclusion areas outside the wilderness are the roads, hydroelectric reservoirs, private inholdings, campgrounds, and high-volume visitor areas including Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Glacier Point. These are described first, then the wilderness is described. In addition to the natural features, there are five national historic landmarks in the park.

Areas outside the Yosemite Wilderness include:

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (N37º57’ W119º47’) and Lake Eleanor (N37º59’ W119º52’) within the park are part of the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric development of the City of San Francisco. These are described separately in the recreation lakes section.

Aspen Valley (N37º50’ W119º46’) is an area of private inholdings at 6,200-feet elevation on the former Tioga Road (connecting White Wolf with Big Oak Flat) off of Evergreen Road. The 1879 two-story Hodgdon Homestead Cabin was relocated from Aspen Valley to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center in 1960. It is used as an authentic building to interpret pioneer history.

On Big Oak Flat Road are campgrounds and sequoia groves. Merced Grove (N37º45’ W119º50’) is an area of 20 sequoia trees about one mile south of Big Oak Flat Road. Tuolumne Grove (N37º46’ W119º48’) of giant sequoias is one mile north of the junction of Tioga Pass Road and Big Oak Flat Road. Foresta (N37º42’ W119º45’) is an area of private inholdings at 4,200-foot elevation with 30 private homes, some of which are available for vacation rentals, on the western boundary of the park off of Big Oak Flat Road on Coulterville Road.

On Tioga Road are campgrounds and spur roads to other campgrounds such as Tamarack Flat, White Wolf, and Yosemite Creek. White Wolf (N37º52’ W119º39’) is a lodge and campground area and trailhead for the western part of Tioga Road. Tuolumne Meadows (N37º52’ W119º22’) is a lodge and trail head for the high alpine meadows portion of the park along Tioga Road. Yosemite High Sierra Camps are a series of five hike-in tent villages to the west and south of Tuolumne Meadows. These facilities have beds and serve dinner. The camps are located at Glen Aulin (N37º55’ W119º25’), May Lake (N37º51’ W119º30’), Merced Lake (N37º44’ W119º24’), Sunrise (N37º48’ W119º26’), and Vogelsang (N37º48’ W119º21’). The immediate area around the camps is excluded from the wilderness, but the entire trail access is within the wilderness. Vogelsang is the highest camp, at 10,300 feet elevation, and Merced Lake is the lowest, at 7,150 feet. It is currently possible to make reservations at individual camps rather than for the entire 50-mile loop (Ryan 2015).

Parsons Memorial Lodge National Historic Landmark (N37º53’ W119º22’) is located in the Tuolumne Meadows area off Tioga Pass Road.  Built in 1915 by the Sierra Club, it was one of the earliest rustic stone buildings in the national parks. The building was named for Edward Taylor Parsons, a Sierra Club director who was involved in the political fight over allowing Hetch Hetchy Dam to be built in a national park. The Sierra Club lost that battle when Hetch Hetchy and Lake Eleanor were authorized by Congress in 1913. The site commemorates the role of the Tuolumne River in inspiring conservation of the natural world nationwide.

Yosemite Valley (N37º45’ W119º35’) was the center of the first land grant for Yosemite in 1864 and is the major park destination today. The 1980 park General Management Plan describes it as the premiere masterwork of the natural world. Iconic waterfalls line the sheer rock walls of the glaciated valley. Campgrounds and visitor accommodations are also here, although reservations are hard to get. Trails in Yosemite Valley lead to Bridalveil Fall, Mirror Lake, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome. At 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America.

Majestic Yosemite Hotel National Historic Landmark (N37º45’ W119º34’)* is part of the Yosemite Valley Historic District and is on the north side of the Merced River at the base of the Royal Arches rock formation on the north valley wall. Built in 1927, the hotel is seven stories and a symbol of design excellence, 1920 architectural ideals, and Rustic-style architecture on a previously unimagined scale. A Great Lounge provides the feel of a national park hotel. The NHL is significant for its role in development of tourism, national parks, concessions in national parks, and in the public appreciation of the national park system (National Park Service 2011).

*In 2016, there is a dispute about names of some concessionaire facilities.

Le Conte Memorial Lodge National Historic Landmark (N37º45’ W119º35’) is on the south side of the Merced River in the Yosemite Valley near the Housekeeping Camp. It was constructed in 1903 by the Sierra Club to disseminate information about the Sierra Nevada and is still used for that purpose. Club volunteers man the memorial in the summer months. In 1919 it was moved to its present location across from the Housekeeping Camp. The structure is unique in the national parks for its Tudor revival architecture. Its historic significance is as a principal foothold of the Sierra Club in the mountains for which it was named.

Rangers’ Club National Historic Landmark (N37º45’ W119º35’) is on the south side of the Merced River in Half Dome Village.* The rustic chalet was built in 1920 and donated to the park by Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, with the idea that rangers serving in the remote location could be provided a place of their own. The Rustic style was intended for national park architecture to harmonize with nature. The interior of the building has Arts and Crafts characteristics.

**In 2016, there is a dispute about names of some concessionaire facilities.

South of Yosemite Valley, Wawona Road leads to the south entrance. A spur road off of the Wawona Road leads to Badger Pass, Bridalveil Creek, and Glacier Point. Glacier Point (N37º44’ W119º34’) is a 3,000-foot sheer cliff that overlooks Yosemite Valley and is a trailhead for the southern portions of the park. Ostrander Ski Hut (N37º37’ W119º33’) is a winter use facility south of Bridalveil Creek. The immediate area around the hut is excluded from the wilderness, but the trail access traverses the wilderness. Wawona (N37º32’ W119º39’) includes the Pioneer Yosemite History Center and the Big Trees Hotel National Historic Landmark, described below. The Pioneer Yosemite History Center is a collection of historic structures from different locations within Yosemite.

Big Trees Hotel National Historic Landmark (N37º32’ W119º39’)* is on the South Fork Merced River. It is the largest Victorian hotel in a national park, built between 1876 and 1918, and it has operated for more than 100 years. It was constructed on the homestead of one of Yosemite’s earliest settlers, Galen Clark, and and was also the site of a stage station at the crossing of the South Fork Merced River. The seven-building national historic landmark complex contains the studio of Thomas Hill, a landscape painter of the Hudson River School, who painted here from 1886 to 1908. The other six buildings are the main hotel, the Annex, Clark Cottage, the Manager’s House, Moore’s Cottage, and Washburn Cottage.

*In 2016, there is a dispute about names of some concessionaire facilities.

At the southwestern edge of the park is Mariposa Grove (N37º31’ W119º36’). Together with Yosemite Valley, this was the first area set aside by Congress for preservation of Yosemite in 1864 and is considered the birthplace of the national park idea. The giant sequoias occupy about 500 acres and include 500 mature trees. In 2015, a parking area and transit hub is being developed at the park’s south entrance to provide visitor access and protection of the grove.

The Yosemite Wilderness designation includes 705,000 acres. The wilderness is bordered by the Emigrant Wilderness to the north, Hoover to the northeast, Ansel Adams to the southeast. The northernmost point is near Dorothy Lake (N38º11’ W119º35’), the southernmost near Mariposa Grove (N37º30’ W119º35’), the westernmost near Lake Eleanor (N37º59’ W119º53’), and the easternmost at Mount Lewis (N37º51’ W119º12’). Some major features within the wilderness are Jack Main Canyon (N38º3’ W119º41’), the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River (N37º56’ W119º33’), Lyell Canyon (N37º49’ W119º17’), Little Yosemite Valley (N37º44’ W119º30’), and  Buena Vista Crest (N37º36’ W119º29’).

Trails lead into the wilderness from Hetch Hetchy area (Wapama Falls, Rancheria Falls, Smith Peak), Big Oak Flat (Carlon Falls on South Fork Tuolumne River [from Evergreen Road in Stanislaus National Forest]), Tuolumne Meadows (Lyell Canyon, Mono Pass, Cathedral lakes, Gaylor Lake, Elizabeth Lakes, and Tuolumne River waterfalls), White Wolf (Lukens Lake, Harden Lake, North Dome, Ten Lakes), Glacier Point Road (Sentinel Dome, McGurk Meadow, Mono Meadow), and Wawona (Chilnaulna Falls). The John Muir Trail begins in Yosemite Valley and climbs to Tuolumne Meadows, where it joins the Pacific Crest Trail and continues south to Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from Donohue Pass on the Ansel Adams Wilderness boundary (N37º46’ W119º15’) north to Dorothy Lakes Pass on the Hoover Wilderness boundary (N38º11’ W119º35’), passing Lyell Canyon, Tuolumne Meadows, Tuolumne Falls, Virginia Canyon, Matterhorn Canyon, and Jack Main Canyon.

Merced River within Yosemite National Park and wilderness is part of the wild and scenic river system. The river is designated from its source on Mount Lyell to Briceburg (N37º36’ W119º58’), including glacially carved Yosemite Valley. 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. From its source to El Portal (N37º40’ W119º49’)(the Yosemite National Park portion), the river flows through a conifer forest. South Fork Merced River within Yosemite National Park and Wilderness is a wild and scenic river from its source at Chain Lakes (N37º34’ W119º24’) downstream for 22 miles to the park boundary (N37º35’ W119º42’). The river passes the Wawona area. The Tuolumne River and its headwater tributaries Dana Fork and Lyell Fork are designated as wild and scenic rivers within the park and wilderness except for a section of the Tuolumne River at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. These are described in the wild and scenic rivers section.

Man and the Biosphere Reserves

There are two Biosphere reserves in the Sierra Nevada, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest.

Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest Man and the Biosphere Reserve

Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest, Stanislaus National Forest, California (N38º11’ W119º59’), is on both sides of State Route 108 near Pinecrest. This 1,700-acre research forest is composed of sugar pine, mixed conifer, and black oak forests in two units. One tract is south of Pinecrest and the other is on the South Fork Stanislaus River.

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, California, is known for its tufa towers of evaporated salt, the area includes Mono Lake and volcanoes in the Great Basin ecoregion. However, Mono Dome (N37º58’ W119º10’) in the Hoover Wilderness and a portion of the Sierra Nevada forests ecoregion that overlooks the lake is included in the National Forest Scenic Area.

National Historic Landmarks

There are five National Historic Landmarks in Yosemite National Park, which are described under the Yosemite National Park World Heritage Site entry.