In this wilderness you will find over 100 miles of hiking trails which will take you from deep canyons to 10,000 foot peaks.
The 105,165 acre Mokelumne Wilderness straddles the crest of the central Sierra Nevada, within the Stanislaus, Eldorado, and Toiyabe National Forests. This area lies within portions of Calaveras, Alpine, and Amador Counties and 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. New Management Guidelines were recently adopted for the Mokelumne Wilderness.
The Mokelumne Wilderness is a rugged landscape of great scenic beauty. Much of the area is dominated by volcanic ridges and peaks. The prominent feature is disputably the rugged Mokelumne River Canyon. There are many smaller streams flowing through deep granitic canyons but only a few lakes concentrated in the northern portion of this spectacular area. Elevations range from about 3900 feet near Salt Springs Reservoir to 10,380 feet at Round Top. Precipitation averages 50 inches annually on the west slope and as little as 15 inches on the east slope, 80 percent of it in the form of snow. Snowcaps typically linger into June in the Round Top region to the north and on the Mokelumne Plateau to the south, while the Mokelumne River Canyon above Salt Springs Reservoir can be free of snow as early as March. Summers are generally dry and mild, but afternoon thundershowers occur periodically and nighttime temperatures may dip below freezing any time.
Permits are mandatory for entry into the Mokelumne Wilderness year round for overnight use. This link will give you information for permits for use of the Mokelumne Wilderness outside of the Carson Pass Management Area.
Due to the popularity of the Carson Pass Area, restrictions are in effect to ensure your opportunities for solitude, a primitive recreational experience, and to protect popular camping destinations from overcrowding and heavy impacts. This link will give you information for permits for use of the Mokelumne Wilderness inside the Carson Pass Management Area.
When visiting remote areas there are several things you should be aware of for your safety and others including the parameters around visitors using Pack Stock in the Wilderness.
Mokelumne Wilderness provides visitors with the opportunity to witness a diverse population of wildlife.
The Mokelumne Wilderness possesses an incredible diversity of plant life and a number of unique remnant species for the area. There are several Special Interest Areas in the wilderness area.
The Mokelumne Wilderness has a long history of use by both Native Americans and European settlers.
The geologic history of the area now known as the Mokelumne Wilderness has been long and complex, and what is visible today reveals only a fraction of this.
General Information and Regulations
- Campfires are prohibited year round in all parts of the Mokelumne Wilderness. Camp stoves are allowed with a California Campfire Permit.
- Campfires are prohibited to reduce human-caused wildfires, impacts to vegetation and soil from firewood collection, and to reduce the visual impacts of fire rings and surface scarring. The remote and rugged terrain of the Mokelumne Wilderness is also very difficult to access for fire suppression.
- Method of Travel - Travel is restricted to horseback or foot only. Trails in the Mokelumne Canyon are maintained in a primitive and challenging condition and are not recommended for stock use. All means of mechanical transportation, including bicycles, are prohibited in wilderness. Wheelchairs are allowed. Stay on trails and do not shortcut switchbacks or create parallel ruts by walking alongside the trail.
- Waste - Visitors are required to bury human waste 6 to 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet away from water, trails, and campsites. Toilet paper must be buried or packed out. Garbage must be packed out.
- Group Size - Maximum group size: 12 people for day-use, and 8 people for overnight use.
- Pets - Domestic pets are allowed in the Mokelumne Wilderness at this time. You are responsible for their actions as well as their welfare. In the Carson Pass Management Area pets should be leashed or physically restrained at all times. Elsewhere within the Wilderness, dogs should be either leashed or under direct voice control. Dogs can disturb other campers, get in fights with other dogs along the trail, and scare wildlife away. The Amador and Alpine County leash laws will be enforced inside the Wilderness boundary where dogs off leash are an impediment or hazard to the safety of any person, or where dogs are harassing or molesting wildlife.
Alerts & Warnings
- Mokelumne Wilderness Year-Round Fire Restrictions
- Wrights Tie Road Closure begins September 5th
- Sunset & Fashoda Campgrounds, Sunset Boat Ramp Closed Beginning Sept. 5, 2023
- Temporary Closures - Pony Express Trail
- Fire Restrictions
- Temporary Recreation Site Closures in the Crystal Basin
- Hell Hole & French Meadows Access