Explore Carson Iceberg Wilderness

high trial carson iceberg vista

Explore Like a Marine!

Once the former mountain warfare training grounds of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness as well as the Carson River draw their names from Kit Carson, one of America’s early western frontiersman. Following his initiative and boldness the first group of emigrants from the East crossed the Sierra in 1841 just north of Sonora Pass.

Inhabited most recently by the Miwok Indians but for over 10,000 years by other native groups, the Carson-Iceberg, has supported human life for thousands of years. 

Designated wilderness in 1984 and managed today by both the Toiyabe and Stanislaus National Forests, the Carson-Iceberg includes both eastern and western slopes of the Sierra in its 161,181 acres. Though it lacks modern-day glaciers, the effect of glaciation is clear on its “Iceberg” namesake, a distinctive rock formation near Clark Fork Road on the wilderness’s southern boundary. The area is also characterized by a geologic anomaly – a series of volcanic peaks and ridges known as the Dardenelles.

Glacial carved river valleys are prevalent in the Carson Iceberg wilderness but lakes a limited. Compared to the Desolation wilderness to the North, Carson Iceberg Wilderness is far less visited by tourist traffic and backpackers, hikers and horseman can find a quiet day in the wilderness in almost every corner.

 

Editors Choice - Carson Iceberg Wilderness Adventure

Congress designated the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness in 1984. Most of the area still includes cattle grazing allotments, and you will likely encounter cows or their signs from July to September. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail runs for over 26 miles within the Carson-Iceberg. About 200 total miles of foot and horse trails give access to this outstanding wilderness, where human use is moderate, especially on the eastern side.

Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:

 

Backpacking

Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

Featured Trails and Elevations of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness

  • Trailhead: Arnot Creek
    Elevation: 6,350’
  • Trailhead: Clark Fork
    Elevation: 6,400’
  • Trailhead: Corral Valley
    Elevation: 8,300’
  • Trailhead: Heiser Lake
    Elevation: 7,950’
  • Trailhead: Pacific Valley
    Elevation: 7,600’
  • Trailhead: Seven Pines
    Elevation: 6,200’
  • Trailhead: Sonora Pass/
    Pacific Crest Trail (North)
    Elevation: 9,600’
  • Trailhead: Spicer Mdw Reservoir
    Elevation: 6,400’
  • Trailhead: Wheat’s Meadow
    Elevation: 6,500’
  • Trailhead: Disaster Creek
    Elevation: 6,400’
  • Trailhead: Ebbett’s Pass
    Elevation: 8,800’
  • Trailhead: Elephant Rock
    Elevation: 7,100’
  • Trailhead: St Mary’s Pass
    Elevation: 9,550’
  • Trailhead: County Line
    Elevation: 7,200’

Wilderness Regulations Emigrant/Carson Iceberg/Mokelumne Areas
Stanislaus National Forest

The following regulations are necessary to assure that future generations will find the
Wilderness at least as wild and free as it is for your visit. Violation of any of these regulations could result in a substantial penalty. Official
orders authorizing enforcement are available for review in Forest and District offices. Wilderness visitors must possess a valid permit for overnight trips.
Do not camp, travel or gather in groups exceeding 15 persons. (Limit per group is 12 persons in the Mokelumne Wilderness. Voluntary reduction of group size when traveling in wilderness areas is always encouraged as a hedge against resource damage.)

  • Dispose of body waste and wash water more than 100 feet from water, trails and campsites. Use “cat holes” six to eight inches deep for human waste.
  • Do not use any soap in lakes or streams. Even biodegradable soaps are a shock to fragile and pristine
    aquatic ecosystems. “Wash” using a bucket well away from surface water.
  • Campsites must be at least 100 feet from lakes, streams, trails and any “No Camping” signs.
  • Pack out all refuse.
  • Do not cut standing trees or deface them in any way.
  • Do not shortcut trail switchbacks.
  • Mechanized and motorized vehicles and equipment (including chainsaws, bicycles, Drones and carts) are prohibited. Non -motorized wheelchairs may be utilized.
  • Construction of items such as rock walls, structures, tables or improvements of any permanent kind is prohibited.
  • Do not build new fire rings—use the existing ones, please (except those too close to water).
  • Do not leave any property (including camping gear, food or other provisions) unattended for longer than 24 hours.
  • Discharging of firearms is permitted only for the taking of game during appropriate hunting seasons.
  • Out-of-control dogs are not permitted. Check county ordinances for pet control requirements.
  • One night camping limits (per trip) are applicable at the following lakes: Grouse, Camp, Bear, Powell and Waterhouse
  • Campfires are prohibited above 9,000 feet in elevation and within ½ mile of Emigrant Lake.

WILDERNESS PERMITS

The western half of the Carson-Iceberg is managed by the Stanislaus National Forest, while the eastern half is managed by the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. There are no quotas for the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, however Permits are required for all overnight trips. Use the links in the sidebar to access the appropriate National Forest for more info.

BEARS AND FOOD STORAGE

Bear canisters are recommended. Use the Bear Section on this site to learn more.

CAMPFIRES

Campfires are generally allowed within the Carson-Iceberg wilderness, with a few exceptions. In places where fires are allowed, always follow smart campfire guidelines.

PETS

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

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