Emigrant Wilderness

With its eastern edge running along the spine of Sierra Nevada range, the Emigrant Wilderness encompasses a vast diversity within its borders. The area was first protected by the U.S. Forest Service as a “protected primitive area” in 1931, named after the historical mountain pass that follows the West Walker route over the Sierra. It was then designated as Wilderness in 1975, covering an area of 113,000 acres and featuring broad sheets of glaciated granite, peaks, and ridges of volcanic rock.

To the north and east one finds terrain dominated by lava-capped summits with fields of granite spanning for miles. In the western parts of the Emigrant, though still a granite and lava landscape, there are more lakes, meadows and patches of pine.

Ever since the Clark Skidmore party crossed Emigrant Pass this area has been an important part of California’s heritage. Though eventually abandoned as a major travel route over the Sierra, the Emigrant’s water continues to make the area a vital resource for California.


The Emigrant is most easily accessible from Hwy 108, with many visitors entering from near Pinecrest Lake or Kennedy Meadows. From the south, the wilderness is accessible from Cherry Lake, along the border with Yosemite National Park.


A Wilderness Permit is required for all overnight trips into the Emigrant Wilderness. (Why?) However, there are no quotas or fees at any time of the year. Check out the links in the side bar for more info from the Stanislaus National Forest.


No more than 15 people and 25 head of stock are allowed on overnight trips. (Why?)


In the Emigrant Wilderness the use of bear resistant food storage containers is highly recommended. For more info on how to protect your food (and Sierra Bears) check out the bear section.


Campfires are prohibited above 9000 feet, and no campfires are allowed within ½ mile of Emigrant Lake.

In places where fires are allowed, make sure to always use smart campfire methods.


Pets must be kept under control and are not allowed to harass wildlife or people.


  • One night camping limit per trip at the following lakes: Bear, Camp, Grouse, Powell, and Waterhouse.
  • No holding of stock within ¼ mile of the following lakes: Bear, Camp, Deer, Grouse, Powell, Waterhouse and Wood.
  • No holding of more than 4 head of stock within ¼ mile of the following lakes:, Gem, Jewelry, Long, Maxwell, Pingree, Piute and Rosasco.


Stanislaus National Forest
Supervisor’s Office
19777 Greenley Road
Sonora, CA 95370
(209) 532-3671
FAX (209) 533-1890
TDD (209) 533-0765

Summit Ranger District
1 Pinecrest Lake Road
Pinecrest, CA 95364
(209) 965-3434
FAX (209) 965-3372
TDD (209) 965-0488

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