Split between the Sequoia and Inyo National Forests, the Golden Trout Wilderness covers over 300,000 acres. First protected in 1978, it is a land of diversity - from rolling forests and meadows up to high rugged granite summits.
The Golden Trout has supported native populations of golden trout (California’s state fish) for thousands of years in the drainages of the Upper Kern River. This wilderness contains all of the Little Kern River’s drainage as well as the North and South Fork of the Kern River plus 117 miles of streams; the Golden Trout Wilderness is a true trout haven.
However, golden trout populations have dwindled throughout the state and in the area due to predation and interbreeding from the non-native European brown trout. Pure populations of golden trout inhabit fewer than 10 miles of streams in the area. The local Little Kern golden trout and the Volcano Creek golden trout are classified as threatened while the endemic South Fork Kern golden trout, rainbow trout, from which golden trout evolved, and western sucker and squawfish are more abundant.
Reaching from the western foothills all the way to the eastern high desert, the Golden Trout Wilderness is accessible from both sides of the Sierra Nevada range. From the east, most visitors access the wilderness from along Hwy 395, often from near Lone Pine (near Mt Whitney). From the west, various access roads stem from Hwy 190 near Giant Sequoia National Monument.
Permits are required for all overnight trips into the Golden Trout. Why? Since the wilderness is split between the Sequoia and Inyo National Forests, you must get your permit from the National Forest through which you enter the wilderness.
A quota is in effect for the Cottonwood Pass Trail in the Golden Trout Wilderness. This quota applies to all overnight visitors, whether you use the services of a commercial outfitter/guide or not. This quota remains in effect from the last Friday in June through September 15.
MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE
No more than 15 people and 25 head of stock are allowed on overnight trips. (Why?)
BEARS AND FOOD STORAGE
Food and refuse must be stored properly at all times. The National Forests recommend bear-resistant canisters and panniers as the best methods of food storage in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Use the bear section on this site to learn more.
Campfires are discouraged anywhere above 9,000 feet. Campfire permits are required. In places where fires are allowed, make sure to always use smart campfire methods.
Dogs are allowed in the Golden Trout Wilderness.
- Leashes protect dogs from becoming lost and from wilderness hazards such as porcupines, mountain lions, and sick, injured or rabid animals.
- Unleashed dogs may intimidate other hikers and their dogs, depriving them of a peaceful wilderness experience.
- Unleashed dogs may harass, injure and sometimes kill wildlife.
- A leashed dog’s keen senses can enhance your awareness of nearby wildlife or other visitors.
Inyo National Forest
351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200
Bishop, CA 93514
TDD (760) 873-2538
Sequoia National Forest
1839 South Newcomb St.
Porterville, CA 93257
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