With Golden Trout Wilderness on its northern boundary and Domeland Wilderness on its southern (except for the road to Kennedy Meadows), South Sierra Wilderness straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada at the southern end of the range. Here you'll find fragile meadowland with a great diversity of flora and fauna situated between forested ridges, rolling hills, and craggy peaks. On the western side (in Sequoia National Forest), the terrain is relatively gentle and easy to travel, forested in fir and pine. The crest and eastern portion (in Inyo National Forest) is far more steep and dissected, making for rugged and strenuous travel; it's an arid landscape, spotted by pinion and juniper. Elevations range from 6,100 feet near Kennedy Meadows to 12,123 feet on Olancha Peak. The Wild and Scenic South Fork of the Kern River and a few perennial streams drain the area, all of which lies in the watershed of the Kern. Much of the Wilderness is dry part of the year. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses about 11 miles of the Wilderness in a north-south direction. About 30 miles of trails suitable for both hiker and horse receive light human use.
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 South Sierra 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.