Granite Chief Wilderness

Granite Chief Wilderness straddles the Sierra Nevada crest and is especially scenic with rugged granite cliffs, alpine meadows, and dense pockets of fir. It includes the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the American River. Snow is often found year round with elevations ranging from 6,000 to 9,000 ft. The Pacific Crest Trail bisects the Wilderness.
The area is served by a substantial trail system used by both hikers and equestrians. Most of the use originates from the east or Lake Tahoe side because of the ease of access and because of the population and recreation visitor base.

The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the area north-south for about 21 miles along the eastern boundary passing through Five Lakes Basin. The Five Lakes Trail crosses near the middle of the Wilderness, and from the Basin, follows Five Lakes Creek for about nine miles to Hell Hole Reservoir. Away from Five Lakes, the Wilderness receives light human use, a great attraction for solitude seekers.


Pets are permitted in the Granite Chief Wilderness, with some exceptions. During fawning season, deer are extremely sensitive to disturbances. Fawns are in their most vulnerable stages and does are stressed from the birthing process. From May 15 to July 15 fawning areas in the Granite Chief Wilderness are closed to dogs:

Wilderness portion of the French Meadows Game Refuge, except for the area east of the Pacific Crest Trail
Big Springs trail and the portion of Five Lakes creek that parallels the trail (south of the Whiskey Creek structures, basically in the middle of the wilderness)

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