John Muir Wilderness

Fishing season runs from the last Saturday in June through November 15 unless otherwise restricted. Peak angling activiy happens in July, August, and September. The ice-out period (e.g., late June to early July) is optimal for actively feeding trout and fewer people. The first big snow typically closes the area by late October.



Wilderness Permits

Permits are required for all overnight trips into the John Muir Wilderness. For more information about entering the John Muir Wilderness go here.

Bears & Your Food

The Inyo National Forest has a forest order which is effective within the John Muir Wilderness. It prohibits storing any food or refuse unless stored in a bear-proof container or in another manner designed to keep bears from gaining access to the food or refuse.

The National Forests recommend bear-resistant canisters and panniers as the best methods of food storage in the John Muir Wilderness.


Fly Fishing the John Muir Wilderness

Fly Fishing for Golden Trout in the John Muir Wilderness takes you to High Sierra Lakes

The John Muir Wilderness extends along the crest of the Sierra Nevada of California for 90 miles (140 km), in the Inyo and Sierra National Forests. Established in 1964 by the Wilderness Act and named for naturalist John Muir, it contains over 581,000 acres. The wilderness lies along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra from near Mammoth Lakes and Devils Postpile National Monument in the north, to Cottonwood Pass near Mount Whitney in the south. The wilderness area also spans the Sierra crest north of Kings Canyon National Park, and extends on the west side of the park down to the Monarch Wilderness.

John Muir Wilderness is home to California Golden Trout

It is contiguous with Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Golden Trout Wilderness and several other wilderness areas. Together, they constitute one of the largest roadless areas in the lower 48 states.

Fly Fishing in the Sierra Nevada Range of Light

The John Muir Wilderness is very heavily used. Over 30 million people live within a five hour drive. Access routes to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, as well as the namesake John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails, pass through the heart of this wilderness. The highest peak in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney at 14,494 feet, rises out of the John Muir Wilderness. In addition to granite peaks and glacially carved canyons, the John Muir protects the headwaters of the South and Middle Forks of the San Joaquin River, as well as the North Fork of the Kings River.

Golden Trout from the John Muir Wilderness in California

Roads lead from both sides of the Sierra Nevada to various trailheads into John Muir. Most visitors enter from the east-side along Highway 395. Ranging from the town of Mammoth at the north end down to Whitney Portal above Lone Pine at the south end. A useful map pinpointing all the trailheads leading into the John Muir Wilderness can be can be viewed here.

Sierra Nevada Sunset glow after thunder shower in the John Muir Wilderness

Golden Trout Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness

Besides being a remote, rugged mountain wilderness in the heart of the Sierra Nevada, the John Muir Wilderness holds snow fed lakes with wild trout throughout its length. In one person's life-time, it would be impossible to fish them all. (But, certainly a life well sent if you could afford to.) The goal here isn't to provide a complete inventory of all the lakes in the John Muir Wilderness. But rather cover a handful of lakes which can be accessed within one day's hike of the trailhead and requiring just one base-camp.

Fly Fishing John Muir Wilderness for Golden Trout in California

From the basecamp in the upper Bear Creek watershed, at least five lakes are within an hour to two hour hike. And the ultimate reward, each of these lakes offers the opportunity to catch California Golden Trout.

The John Muir Wilderness Lakes profiled on The Ecological Angler will be:

Camping under the night sky in the John Muir Wilderness with the Milky Way in full display