This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. On September 3, 1964, the Wilderness Act was signed into law. Since then, more than 109 million acres of America's spectacular natural heritage have been protected as Wilderness by Congress for future generations.
Which Wilderness Areas have you visited? Which one is closest to you? Which is your favorite? Which do you plan on hiking next?
It's hard for me to choose a favorite, but one Wilderness area which definitely speaks to me is the John Muir Wilderness in the Inyo and Sierra National Forests of California. It is the largest Wilderness Area in California and it runs along about 100 miles of the Pacific Crest on its eastern side. Elevations range from 4,000' to 14,494' at Mt. Whitney. The wilderness contains the largest contiguous area above 10,000 feet in the contiguous US.
My parents bought a house up on the South Fork of Bishop Creek shortly before I was born and here we lived, just a mile or two away from the border of the John Muir Wilderness. My family spent a lot of time camping and hiking in the mountains and kayaking in the lakes. My mother said when I got a little older I used to spend a lot of time drawing the mountains that surrounded us. I have a few of these drawings saved in a scrapbook. I believe those mountains shaped me as a person more than I'll ever know.
The Wilderness Areas in the Sierra from Yosemite south to the South Sierra Wilderness comprise the 2nd largest block of wilderness in the Lower 48. There are then no roads that cross the Sierra from Tioga Pass in the north to Sherman Pass in the south. These passes are open in the summertime, but in the winter you have to go all the way north to Tahoe or south to Lake Isabella to cross. I love that sitting in California is this huge block of mountains that you cannot drive through. To see it, you must hike or go by horseback.
The wilderness areas closest to where I currently live are the Cucamonga and Sheep Mountain Wilderness Areas. These are unbelievably rugged and beautiful areas in the San Gabriel Mountains. I've hiked up the Middle Fork, East Fork, and Icehouse Canyon Trails for fun and as part of the annual Bighorn Sheep count.
I am planning a trip to the Sespe Wilderness next month - this area is known for its hot springs and California Condor habitat.
Other Wilderness Areas I've hiked in (not including National Park Wilderness areas):