Golden Trout Wilderness
Hiking & Horse Trailheads

Information & Maps provided by US Forest Service / Department of Agriculture

| Description | Location | Fishing/Hunting | Ethics | Regulations | Permits | Additional Info |

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Golden Trout Wilderness

WILDERNESS: " area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
It is important we preserve the natural condition of wilderness.


The 303,287-acre Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW) was designated by Congress in 1978. Of this total, 111,148 acres is on the Sequoia National Forest and the remainder on the Inyo National Forest.

The Golden Trout wilderness was named for the brightly colored native golden trout (California State fish). Two subspecies are recognized; South Fork Kern golden trout and the Little Kern golden trout. Both are found in the GTW.

On the Sequoia National Forest portion of the GTW, elevations range from 4,700 feet at the Forks of the Kern River to 12,432 feet on Mt. Florence, the highest peak on the Forest. Vegetation ranges from digger and piñon pine woodlands at lower elevations; extensive Jeffrey pine forests at mid elevations; and red fir, lodgepole and foxtail pine at higher elevations. Portions of the GTW occur above timberline. The entire Little Kern River drainage lies within the wilderness. The North and South Forks of the Kern Wild and Scenic Rivers bisect this Wilderness.


Cattle grazing has been a part of the local scene for a hundred years or more. Most present day trails were originally established by stockmen many years ago before areas were designated as Wilderness areas.

The "old west" culture that developed with livestock grazing represents a major formative element of the American Character. This culture survives today, not as a museum exhibit, but as a vital, active and unique component of the area. It is perpetuated by present day cattlemen as they drive their cattle over historic trails, use packstock to supply cowcamps built of native materials and cook over woodstoves by lantern light. They generally conduct livestock operations as their ancestors did in the 1800's, with same important exceptions.

Livestock operations are now controlled by a permit system based on guidelines established in Grazing Allotment Management Plans and Forest land and Resource Management Plans. Each summer Owens Valley ranchers under Special Use Permits utilize the forage available in Monache and elsewhere on the Kern Plateau.

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The GTW has Sequoia National Park on the north, the South Sierra Wilderness to the southeast, and Mountain Home State Forest to the west. Approximately 150 miles of trails are located on the Sequoia National Forest portion, for horses and hikers. These trails can be accessed from Quaking Aspen Campground, Lloyd Meadow, Mtn. Home State Forest, Sherman Pass Rd., Hwy. 395 via Nine Mile Rd., Blackrock Station, Hwy 395 via Horseshoe Mdw. Sage Flat, and Haiwee Pass.

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Fishing and hunting is permitted under State regulations. Special California Fish and Game restrictions apply in the GTW when fishing. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used for all species. Open season in the GTW is from the last Saturday in April each year until November 15. In the Little Kern River Drainage there is a five-trout limit. On the main stem of the Kern River, from the point where trail 33E30 turns east, to Tyndell Creek, there is a two-trout limit and no rainbow trout over ten inches in total length can be taken.

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Minimize impact by camping at least 100' from streams and trails. Pack out what you pack in. Bury body waste 6 inches deep. Keep fires small and leave them DEAD OUT by mixing ashes with water and soil. Do everything you can to protect water sources from contamination. PRACTICE LEAVE NO TRACE!


Visitors should not drink from creeks and springs without properly treating the water. Recommended treatment is to bring clear water to a rolling boil for 5 minutes or use a filter/purifying system.

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All mechanized equipment and vehicles, including mountain bikes, are prohibited within the Wilderness areas. A maximum group size of 15 people / 25 head of stock per party has been adopted.

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Visitors to the GTW must obtain a Wilderness Permit and a campfire permit if they plan on staying overnight. These permits are FREE and can be obtained from the offices listed on this page or from Blackrock Visitor Station on the Kern Plateau. Permits can be mailed in advance, if points of entry/exit and days of travel are known. The trailhead names and code numbers must also be listed. The following is a list of these trailheads:

Code # Trailhead Code #Trailhead
35.Cottonwood Basin *131.Blackrock Mountain
36.Cottonwood Pass *132. Osa Meadow
37.Trail Pass133.Manzanita
38.Mulkey Pass134. Lion Meadow
42.Pacific Crest Trail135. Scrantone
44.Kern Ranger Station136. Rincon
45.Siberian Pass137. Forks-of-the-Kern
46.Farewell Gap138. Jerkey
64.Twin Lakes139.Fish Creek/Lewis Camp
125.Little Cottonwood140. Click
126.Lower Cottonwood141. Summit
127.Brown Trail142. Jacobsen
129.Kingfisher 144.Long Canyon/Shake Camp
130. Little Dry Meadow145.Dillon
* Permit must be issued by the Inyo National Forest and quotas may be in effect.
It is advised that permits be obtained in person for the most current information.

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A combination road, trail and topo map of the Golden Trout Wilderness area is for sale along with current information and required permits at any of the following locations:

Sequoia National Forest
900 W. Grand Ave.
Porterville, CA 93257
(209) 784-1500
Tule River Ranger District
32588 Highway 190
Porterville, CA 93257
(209) 539-2607
Kern River Ranger District
P.O. Box 6
105 Whitney Road
Kernville, CA 93238
(760) 376-3781
Inyo National Forest
Mt. Whitney Ranger District
P.O. Box 8
Lone Pine, CA 93545
(760) 876-6200
Sequoia National Park
Ash Mountain Headquarters
Three Rivers, CA 93271
(209) 565-3341
For recorded road and weather information in the Park call (209) 565-3351

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs and marital or familial status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the USDA Office of Communication at (202) 720-5881 (voice) or (202) 720-7808 (TDD).
To file a complaint, write the Secretary of Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 20250, or call (202) 720-7327 (voice) or (202) 720-1127 (TDD). USDA is an equal employment opportunity employer.

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© 1995 The Kern Valley Canyon Connection / M.L. Ludiker - All rights reserved.
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