The 35,860-acre Alta Toquima Wilderness, designated in 1989 and managed by the Forest Service as part of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest, protects a stellar example of Nevada's Basin-and-Range high country. Terrain The Wilderness covers much of the Toquima Range, one of hundreds of the lofty, north-south mountain chains that, along with adjoining arid lowlands, constitute the appropriately named Basin-and-Range province that covers Nevada. The Toquima Range is bound on the west by the Big Smoky Valley and on the east by the Monitor Valley. The range tops out at the Wilderness high point: 11,949-foot Mount Jefferson, a magnificent massif that ranks among Nevada's most topographically prominent mountains and the loftiest in the central part of the state. Mount Jefferson boasts three peaks--the South Summit's the highest--which rise from a broad summit table eight miles long and three miles wide, edged by grand cirques carved by Pleistocene glaciers. From the Toquima crest, ridges and deep canyons tumble thousands of feet toward the surrounding basins. Most of the Wilderness is quite rugged, apart from the Mount Jefferson plateau and some of the lower foothills in the north and southeast. Drainages include Pine Creek on the east, Barker and Willow creeks on the west, and Moores Creek on the north. Ecology The Wilderness is sparsely vegetated. The elevational mosaic includes sagebrush steppe on the lower slopes; mid-elevation pinyon-juniper woodland; high-elevation quaking-aspen groves and timberline stands of limber pine; and alpine tundra atop Mount Jefferson. The Forest Service has established a Research Natural Area, a specially designated site for studying outstanding ecological communities, on Mount Jefferson. Coyotes, mule deer, sage grouse, and chukar roam the sagebrush and scrub, while bighorn sheep can be spotted in the high country. Pine Creek supports a native population of trout. Notes Developed trails offer access to the northern, eastern, and southern portions of the Wilderness, while the more remote western side beckons experienced cross-country trekkers. From Mount Jefferson, hikers can survey a tremendous panorama, stretching beyond the near basins and the Toiyabe and Monitor ranges to distant highlands of California and Utah. Legendary conservationist (and inveterate explorer) John Muir rambled the heights of Mount Jefferson in 1878 and traced the effects of Ice Age glaciers on the landscape.
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 Alta Toquima 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.