Granite Chief Wilderness


The Granite Chief Wilderness was designated a Wilderness area in 1984 because of its pristine nature, natural beauty, and primitive, non-motorized recreational opportunities. Located on the west shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe, the Granite Chief Wilderness is managed by the Tahoe National Forest. This 25,680 acre wilderness offers beautiful valley meadows and spectacular 9000 foot granite peaks.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Winter Conditions
Fees Fees are not presently required for day or overnight use in the Granite Chief Wilderness.
Permit Info: Wilderness Permits are not presently required for day or overnight use in the Granite Chief Wilderness.
Restrictions: Group size is limited to 12 people for day and overnight use. Camping, campfires, and stove use are prohibited within 600 feet of any lake in the Five Lakes basin. Camping, campfires, and stove use are prohibited within 250 feet of the Whiskey Creek structures. (less than one mile southwest of Five Lakes on the Whiskey Creek trail). Recreational stock animals: Stock size is limited to 12 animals for day or overnight use. Stock are prohibited within 600 feet of all wilderness lakes (except to pass through the Five Lakes basin on the Five Lakes trail). Dogs are prohibited from May 15 through July 15 each year in the following deer fawning areas: The wilderness portion of the French Meadow Game Refuge (except for the area east of the Pacific Crest Trail) and the Big Springs Trail and the portion of Five Lakes Creek that parallels that trail. Bury human waste six to eight inches deep and at least 200' (100 paces) from lakes, streams, campsites, and trails. Toilet paper must be packed out or buried. Wilderness areas are special places where motorized and mechanized vehicles are prohibited (this includes motorcycles, bicycles, carts, and strollers).
Closest Towns: Truckee, California
Water: Water in the Sierra may be contaminated with Giardia lambia and Crytosporidium, which can cause serious illness. They are invisible, tasteless and odorless. Some backcountry waters may also contain bacteria and viruses. If day hiking, carry sufficient water, or bring along a portable water filter (filter down to 1 micron). If camping, use a filter or boil water for 3-5 mins. Water is usually available year round in the major creeks, but smaller creeks may dry up toward the end of summer.
Operated By: Granite Chief Wilderness is managed by the Tahoe National Forest and borders the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Contact the Truckee or Foresthill Ranger Stations or the Tahoe National Forest for additional information.

General Information

Directions: Trailheads are accessible from Highway 89 on the west shore of Lake Tahoe via Alpine Meadows Road, Squaw Valley Road, Ward Creek Boulevard, Blackwood Canyon Road, and Barker Pass Road. Many of the trailheads and trails accessing the wilderness are on private land. Please respect the rights of landowners.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Camping & Cabins

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Nature Viewing

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Areas & Activities



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Elevations in Granite Chief range from 5000 foot valley to 9000 foot peaks.


Color graphic of the Travel Management logo featuring a drawing of a trail next to stream and trees.

Travel Management: A Program for Motor Vehicle Route Designation

Buy it where you burn it!

Be aware that firewood can harbor insects and diseases that threaten valuable forest resources. Transporting firewood can move these pests to new locations.