Emigrant Wilderness is a wilderness area located within the Stanislaus National Park which is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is 25 miles long and 15 miles in width. If you are coming from the Bay Area, it’s about 140 miles and from Lake Tahoe it’s about 50. Emigrant Wilderness is also close to Yosemite National Park and Toiyabe National Forest. The terrain varies in Emigrant Wilderness: some parts are full of volcanic ridges and peaks, while the rest of the area has lakes and meadows in between granite ridges. Some land is below 5000 feet while Leavitt Peak is 11,750 feet high. It usually snows until June and even then, it can still drop below freezing at night. If you do want to go hiking or camping, make sure you read the weather forecast and still have some cold weather gear on hand just in case. It’s better to be prepared with some extra weight to lug around then to freeze to death.
This land once belonged to Indian tribes including the Sierra Miwok and Piute. However, when the 49ers came to pan for gold, they pushed them off the land and forced them to resettle elsewhere. In 1931, this land, under the name of Emigrant Basin Primitive Area became a protected area and in 1974, the name was changed to Emigrant Wilderness. Just recently, there was a court case regarding the many dams within Emigrant Wilderness. The Forest Service wanted to keep some dams and let some decay naturally due to controversy surrounding the Wilderness Act. The court overturned this and maintained that all the dams had to be left to naturally decay due to the Wilderness Act.
Because this area is protected, it is important you do your best to eliminate any human interaction with nature within Emigrant Wilderness. You can find the Leave No Trace principles here. If you are planning an overnight trip, you must have a permit. You may get one by contacting Groveland Ranger District no more than 24 hours in advance of your trip. If traveling in groups, you must also meet the requirements for how many people are allowed in your group. Please visit http://www.fs.fed.us/ for more information on Emigrant Wilderness and contact information for the Groveland Ranger District.