Kalmiopsis Wilderness


Kalmiopsis Wilderness

The United States Congress designated the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in 1964 and it now has a total of 180,095 acres. This Wilderness includes the headwater basin of the Chetco and North Fork Smith Rivers and a portion of the Illinois River canyon. This is a harsh, rugged area with a unique character. Elevations range from 500 to 5,098 feet (Pearsoll Peak). The area is characterized by deep, rough canyons, sharp rock ridges and clear rushing mountain streams and rivers.

Diversity of topography and geology provide excellent habitat for a wide variety of botanical species. Much of this diversity results from plant species adapting to life in harsh soils derived from peridotite and serpentinite rocks. Both are rich in heavy metals such as magnesium, iron, chromium and nickel, which in high amounts, can be toxic to most plants. The diversity of plant habitat has been the result of a combination of geologic forces (uplift, folding and faulting), erosional and depositional forces (glaciation, weather, climate and the action of rivers), and periodic fires. The Kalmiopsis leachiana plant was discovered in 1930 by Lilla Leech in the Gold Basin area. The plant is a relic of the pre-ice age and the oldest member of the Health (Ericaceae) Family. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness was named after this unique endemic shrub. For those with a more serious interest in botany, there is a Plant List for the Kalmiopsis Wilderness available at the Chetco Ranger District, Illinois Valley Ranger District, and Gold Beach Ranger District. 


At a Glance

Current Conditions: Alert: The nearly 500,000 acre Biscuit Fire of 2002 included the entire wilderness area. The impact from the fire includes added challenges, such as large numbers of downed trees, missing trail signs, holes and lose rock on the tread etc. For now and in the foreseeable future, wilderness users should recognize the need for increased safety awareness when traveling and camping.
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply.
Closest Towns: Gold Beach, OR; Cave Junction, OR
Information Center: Gold Beach and Wild Rivers Ranger Districts

General Information

General Notes:

Buy maps online

Buy the Powers & Gold Beach Ranger Districts map which includes: Copper Salmon, Grassy Knob, Kalmiopsis, and Wild Rogue Wildernesses, online at the National Forest Store.

Topo maps

Big Craggies, Biscuit Hill, Buckskin Peak, Chetco Peak, Collier Butte, Fourth of July Creek, Horse Sign Butte, Josephine Mountain, Pearsoil Peak, Quail Prairie Mountain, Quosatana Butte, Silver Peak, Tincup Peak, Yorke Butte. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps.

Buy maps online

Go to the National Forest Store.


Go to Wilderness.net for online maps and other important Wilderness information.


Trailheads and trails that access Kalmiopsis Wilderness

Other trails within Kalmiopsis Wilderness



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Horse Riding & Camping

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Areas & Activities


  Elevation : 
500' - 5,098'