Special Places

A granite cliff rises up above a picturesque alpine lakeEmigrant Lake, Emigrant Wilderness (Photo by J. Silverman) The Stanislaus National Forest (STF) manages the entire Emigrant Wilderness and co-manages the Carson-Iceberg and Mokelumne Wilderness Areas.  Each one is a unique natural landscape, offering hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding opportunities (see link for each below). All overnight trips in these wilderness areas require a free permit (see below), while day-use does not.

Wilderness Permits
To learn more about wilderness permits, click here.

Trailhead Access to Wilderness
Most of our wilderness trailheads remain inaccessible due to snow until mid- to late-May or June. Check the Recreation Conditions Report to see what trailheads are open/accessible. Note: scroll down below the map on the Recreation page.

Tells Us About the Trail and Camp Conditions in Wilderness
After you return from your trip, please consider sending us feedback about conditions using this form.

Volunteering for Wilderness
Stanislaus Wilderness Volunteers is a non-profit partner organization that offers opportunities for the public to participate in stewardship of the wilderness through education and hands-on field projects. Visit www.swv1.org to learn more.

Long-distance Trips
The Stanislaus National Forest does not issue permits for destinations south of Tioga Road (CA Hwy 140) within Yosemite NP.  Permits that start at Stanislaus trailheads can be written to exit at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite NP.  The Stanislaus cannot issue permits for the John Muir Trail, the High Sierra Route, to/for the Mount Whitney Zone, or for long-distance trips on the Pacific Crest Trail (north of Donner Pass or South of Tuolumne Meadows).  Contact Yosemite National Park, the Inyo National Forest, or the Pacific Crest Trail Association respectively for these routes and areas.

If you have questions, please contact one of the offices.  You may leave a message for call backs. See our homepage for contact numbers.


If you have questions about visiting a Wilderness Area, please contact one of the offices during business hours.

 

Office Phone Information

Forest Supervisor's Office
Sonora, CA
209-459-9238

Groveland Ranger District
Groveland, CA
(CA Highway 120)
209-962-7825

Calaveras Ranger District
Hathaway Pines, CA
(CA Highway 4)
209-795-1381

Summit Ranger District
Pinecrest, CA
(CA Highway 108)
209-965-3434

To learn more about each wilderness click one of the photos below.

Emigrant Wilderness

The 113,000 acre Emigrant Wilderness, bordered by Yosemite National Park on the south, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest on the east, and State Highway 108 on the north; is an elongated area that trends northeast about 25 miles in length and up to 15 miles in width.

 

 

Mokelumne Wilderness

Designated in 1964, the 105,165 acre Mokelumne Wilderness straddles the crest of the central Sierra Nevada, within the Stanislaus, Eldorado, and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests. This area is bordered by State Highway 4 on the south and State Highway 88 on the north. Watersheds drain to the Mokelumne River on the west slope and the Carson River on the east slope.

 

Carson-Iceberg Wilderness

The 161,000 acre Carson-Iceberg Wilderness straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada range, divided almost evenly between the Stanislaus and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests. Here you'll find spectacular high country, with several peaks rising above 10,000 feet, broad river valleys, perennial creeks with small waterfalls, granite-strewn slopes, and meadow-filled valleys.

 

Highlighted Areas

Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River

Rafter executing a rapid on the Tuolumne River Visitors rafting down the Tuolumne river surrounded by mountains.

 

Considered to be some of the best "All Around" whitewater in the nation, the Main Tuolumne offers 16-18 miles of Class 4-5 rapids. Side streams such as the Clavey River, Big Creek, and the North Fork of the Tuolumne River offers side hikes, fishing holes, and warm swimming pools during the summer months. 

Check out the history of the Tuolumne River and take an interactive ride down the Tuolumne River and learn how the rapids got their name. Thanks to our partner Tuolumne River Trust for sharing these links.  (Please note you are leaving the FS web page when you view these links.)

Main Tuolumne 

The Main Tuolumne is a challenging and enjoyable Class 4+, 18-mile whitewater run through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. This section has some demanding rapids spaced at close intervals. At above 4,000 cubic feet per second (CFS). The river becomes more powerful and recovery more difficult. The biggest rapid, the Clavey, can be walked around or portaged. Camping is available at several sites along the way. Reservoir release summer flows generally arrive at Merals Pool launch mid-morning and drop to less than 300cfs after noon. A three-day trip allows boaters to enjoy the canyon and its tributaries. River flow graphs can be found at http://dreamflows.com.

During spring runoff, flows above 5,000 cubic feet per second make the Main Tuolumne a class 5 experience. The takeout at Wards Ferry Bridge is difficult and dangerous at all times. Make sure you stay hydrated and be very careful carrying your boats up to the bridge.

Cherry Creek 

The 9-mile class 5+ Cherry Creek/Tuolumne run is one of the most challenging commercial runs in the world. Yet the nature of the rock in the riverbed allows expert boaters an exhilarating experience. It has 15 class 5 rapids. Two 5+ rapids (Flat Rock Falls and Lumsden Falls) are recommended portage. Generally, it is run below 2,000 CFS. Boaters who attempt this run are well-advised to go with experts that have run the river before. As with the Main T, a permit is required to run the river. Permits are available at www.recreation.gov 

Seperate permits are required from Cherry-Creek to Merals Pool and from Merals Pool to Wards Ferry Bridge.  

 


Cherry Lake

Cherry Lake Cherry Lake

Fish and boat on the largest lake on the Forest. Open all year, road access subject to winter closure. Cherry Lake visitors enjoy camping, boating, swimming, fishing and hiking. Recreation facilities include a boat launch and vault restrooms. There are no cell, fuel, grocery, or water services at Cherry Lake. Visitors are advised to plan accordingly. 

California Campfire Permit is required to have fire in a dispersed campsite. Campfire permits can be obtained for free at any Forest Service office or online at https://www.readyforwildfire.org/permits/

 


Cherry Lake Boat Launch

North of Highway 120, off Cherry Lake  Road. Fish and boat on the largest lake on the Forest. From Groveland District Office head east on Highway 120. Approximately 5 miles, turn left on Cherry Lake Road. Follow Cherry Lake Road 20 miles to Cherry Lake. There are no cell, fuel, grocery, or water services at Cherry Lake. Visitors are advised to plan accordingly. 

California Campfire Permit is required to have fire in a dispersed campsite. Campfire permits can be obtained for free at any Forest Service office or online at https://www.readyforwildfire.org/permits/

 

 


Cherry Valley Campground

Cherry Valley Campground Cherry Valley Campground Sign Cherry Valley Campground Restroom

Cherry Valley Campground is located in a mixed conifer forested site near Cherry Lake. Each site has a picnic table, bear box, and a campfire pit with a grill. Vault toilets are available. Notice: As of June 23, 2021 potable water is not available due to current drought conditions. Visitors are advised to bring water on their trip. 


Recreation Areas