From a low point of about 1,600 feet, this Wilderness climbs to the 4,063-foot summit of Machesna Mountain in the southwest section. This is a scenic area, with the scenery getting finer the higher you venture until you can make out the snowcapped Sierra Nevada in the distance. Here in the La Panza mountain range, three-fourths of the area is chaparral brushland, roughly another 10 percent is pine-crowned peaks and majestic rocky crags, and the rest consists of an oak-dotted grassland. A 1,500-acre section has been set aside for the study of a unique strain of Coulter pine. American Canyon is the region's major drainage. You may see deer, mountain lions, or black bears, but Machesna is best known as critical habitat for the protection of the California condor. Human use is light on the two trails: the American Canyon and the Machesna Mountain, both approximately eight miles long. Primarily national forestland, the Wilderness has a small western section that fall under Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction.
Average annual precipitation is about 14 inches, although higher elevations receive more moisture. Summer daytime temperatures fluctuate 85 degrees F with cool nighttime temperatures. In the winter, freezing temperatures predominate, and snow covers most of the area. However, the snowfall is usually short-lived and not nearly as severe as that of the high sierra.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Machesna Mountain Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.