|Location||Tuolumne County, California, United States|
|Nearest city||Merced, CA|
|Area||112,277 acres (454.37 km2)|
|Established||January 1, 1974|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
The Emigrant Wilderness of Stanislaus National Forest is a wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada. It is bordered by Yosemite National Park on the south, the Toiyabe National Forest and the Hoover Wilderness on the east, and State Route 108 over Sonora Pass on the north. It is an elongated area that extends northeast about 25 miles (40 km) in length and up to 15 miles (24 km) in width. Watersheds drain to the Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers. This area is entirely within Tuolumne County, California and is approximately 140 miles (230 km) east of San Francisco, California and 50 miles (80 km) south of Lake Tahoe.
The Emigrant Wilderness is a glaciated landscape of scenic beauty. The northeastern third of the Wilderness is dominated by volcanic ridges and peaks; the remaining areas consist of many sparsely vegetated, granitic ridges interspersed with numerous lakes and meadows. To see that contrast, compare the red volcanic rock in the image of Emigrant Meadow (below Right) with the granite in the other images. Elevations range from below 5,000 feet (1,500 m) near Cherry Reservoir to 11,570 feet (3,527 m) at Leavitt Peak, but the elevation range of most of the popular areas is 7,500 to 9,000 feet (2,300 to 2,700 m). Precipitation averages 50 inches (1,300 mm) annually, 80% of it in the form of snow. Snowpacks typically linger into June, sometimes later following very wet winters. Summers are generally dry and mild, but afternoon thundershowers occur periodically and nighttime temperatures could dip below freezing anytime.
Various native peoples occupied this area for 10,000 years, spending the summer and early autumn hunting in the high country and trading with groups from the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The most recent groups were the Sierra Miwok of the western slope and Piute of the Great Basin.
Following the discovery of gold in 1848, large numbers of miners and settlers came to the Sierra and the native cultures quickly declined. In September–October 1852, the Clark-Skidmore party became the first emigrant group to travel the West Walker route over Emigrant Pass, continuing through a portion of the present-day Emigrant Wilderness. Several more emigrant parties were enticed by officials from Sonora to use this route in 1853, but it was a very difficult passage with many hardships and was soon abandoned. Relief Valley and Relief Reservoir were so named because of the assistance some emigrants received there from residents of the Sonora area.
In 1931, the United States Forest Service designated this area for primitive management as the Emigrant Basin Primitive Area. On January 4, 1975, the Emigrant Basin Primitive Area was designated as the Emigrant Wilderness.
Since 1975, 18 small dams in the Emigrant Wilderness have been the source of an unresolved political debate. The dams were constructed by anglers who tightly stacked nearby stones and boulders. Some support proposals to maintain the dams while others feel the dams should be allowed to decay in keeping with the Wilderness Act. A decision by the Stanislaus National Forest to compromise and leave some dams to naturally deteriorate while allowing maintenance of others was overturned in court in 2006, reigniting some of the controversy. The Forest Service chose not to appeal and the dams will gradually disappear.
From Sonora Pass in the north, the Pacific Crest Trail follows a scenic route at the east edge of the Emigrant Wilderness along the high ridge past Leavitt Peak, turns further east from Kennedy Canyon to Bond Pass, and then heads south down Jack Main Canyon.
Many other trails criss-cross the Emigrant Wilderness, from Leavitt Meadow on the East side, Kennedy Meadow on the West side, and other trailheads. Highlights include cliffs in the Granite Dome area and lakes such as Emigrant Lake, Huckleberry Lake, and Lake Lertoria.
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin. The vast majority of the range lies in the state of California, although the Carson Range spur lies primarily in Nevada. The Sierra Nevada is part of the American Cordillera, an almost continuous chain of mountain ranges that forms the western "backbone" of the Americas.
The Tuolumne River flows for 149 miles (240 km) through Central California, from the high Sierra Nevada to join the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley. Originating at over 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level in Yosemite National Park, the Tuolumne drains a rugged watershed of 1,958 square miles (5,070 km2), carving a series of canyons through the western slope of the Sierra. While the upper Tuolumne is a fast-flowing mountain stream, the lower river crosses a broad, fertile and extensively cultivated alluvial plain. Like most other central California rivers, the Tuolumne is dammed multiple times for irrigation and the generation of hydroelectricity.
Stanislaus National Forest is a U.S. National Forest which manages 898,099 acres of land in four counties in the Sierra Nevada in Northern California. It was established on February 22, 1897, making it one of the oldest national forests. It was named after the Stanislaus River.
The Clavey River is a tributary of the Tuolumne River in the Sierra Nevada, located in the Stanislaus National Forest and Tuolumne County, California. The river is 31.3 miles (50.4 km) long, and is one of the few undammed rivers on the western slope of the Sierra. Via the Tuolumne River, the Clavey is part of the San Joaquin River watershed.
The Hoover Wilderness is a wilderness area in the Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests. It lies to the east of the crest of the central Sierra Nevada in California, to the north and east of Yosemite National Park - a long strip stretching nearly to Sonora Pass on the north and Tioga Pass on the south.
Mount Lyell is the highest point in Yosemite National Park, at 13,114 feet (3,997 m). It is located at the southeast end of the Cathedral Range, 1.2 miles (1.9 km) northwest of Rodgers Peak. The peak as well as nearby Lyell Canyon is named after Charles Lyell, a well-known 19th century geologist. The peak had one of the last remaining glaciers in Yosemite, Lyell Glacier. The Lyell Glacier is currently considered to be a permanent ice field, not a living glacier. Mount Lyell divides the Tuolumne River watershed to the north, the Merced to the west, and the Rush Creek drainage in the Mono Lake Basin to the southeast.
The Stanislaus River is a tributary of the San Joaquin River in north-central California in the United States. The main stem of the river is 96 miles (154 km) long, and measured to its furthest headwaters it is about 150 miles (240 km) long. Originating as three forks in the high Sierra Nevada, the river flows generally southwest through the agricultural San Joaquin Valley to join the San Joaquin south of Manteca, draining parts of five California counties. The Stanislaus is known for its swift rapids and scenic canyons in the upper reaches, and is heavily used for irrigation, hydroelectricity and domestic water supply.
Lassen National Forest is a United States national forest of 1,700 square miles (4,300 km2) in northeastern California. It is named after pioneer Peter Lassen, who mined, ranched and promoted the area to emigrant parties in the 1850s.
Cherry Creek is a large, swift-flowing stream in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and is the largest tributary of the Tuolumne River. The creek is 40 miles (64 km) long measured to its farthest headwaters; the main stem itself is 26 miles (42 km) long, draining a watershed of 234 square miles (610 km2) in the Stanislaus National Forest. Part of the drainage also extends into the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park.
Cherry Lake is an artificial lake in the Stanislaus National Forest of Tuolumne County, California, U.S.A., about 25 miles (40 km) east of the city of Sonora. It is at an elevation of 4,700 feet (1,433 m) on the western side of the Sierra Nevada, and lies just outside the western boundary of Yosemite National Park. The lake has a capacity of 273,500 acre⋅ft (337,400,000 m3) and is formed by Cherry Valley Dam on Cherry Creek.
The Uinta Highline Trail is a trail in the Uinta Mountains of Utah that traverses the range 104 miles (167 km) from east to west. The trail passes through expansive alpine landscapes dominated by metasedimentary rocks sculpted by past glaciers. The broad glacial basins are dotted by hundreds of lakes.
Jennie Lakes Wilderness is a protected area in the Sierra Nevada, in Tulare County, California. It is located 60 miles (97 km) east of Fresno and managed by the US Forest Service.
Leavitt Peak is located in the Emigrant Wilderness near Sonora Pass in the eastern Sierra Nevada range of California. Leavitt Peak is located on the Tuolumne County - Mono County line. The Pacific Crest Trail runs close to the east of Leavitt Peak, at an elevation of about 10,800 feet (3,290 m) elevation. The peak offers views south to Yosemite National Park and north towards South Lake Tahoe.
The South Sierra Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Southern Sierra Nevada, in eastern California. It is located 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Bakersfield, and is southwest of Owens Lake and Olancha.
The Golden Trout Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada, in Tulare County and Inyo County, California. It is located 40 miles (64 km) east of Porterville, California within Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Forest.
The Monarch Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area located 70 miles east of Fresno, California, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It encompasses 44,896 acres (181.69 km2) within both the Sequoia National Forest and the Sierra National Forest and is managed by the United States Forest Service. Elevations range from 950 feet (290 m) to 11,081 ft (3,377 m).
The Dinkey Lakes Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area located 45 miles (72 km) northeast of Fresno, in the state of California, United States. It comprises 30,000 acres (12,141 ha) within the Sierra National Forest and was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System by the California Wilderness Act of 1984.
The Mokelumne Wilderness is a 105,165-acre federally designated wilderness area located 70 miles (110 km) east of Sacramento, California. It is within the boundaries of three national forests: Stanislaus, Eldorado and Toiyabe. First protected under the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Mokelumne's borders were expanded under the California Wilderness Act of 1984 with the addition of 55,000 acres. The wilderness takes its name from the Mokelumne River, which was named after a Mi-wok Indian village located on the riverbank in California's Central Valley.
The Tahoe–Yosemite Trail (TYT) is a long-distance trail in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. The trail courses 186 miles (299 km) from Meeks Bay at Lake Tahoe to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. The trail is a foot and equestrian path that passes through the Desolation, Mokelumne, Carson-Iceberg, Emigrant, and Yosemite Wilderness Areas and the Meiss Country (Dardanelles) Roadless Area.