Caribou Wilderness - Recreation


Wilderness areas are managed to preserve the natural, undeveloped conditions as much as possible so there are limitations in the use for recreation. No motorized equipment, vehicles or bicycles can be brought into a wilderness. There are no man-made structures or conveniences, although occasionally evidence of prior land use before the wilderness designation, such as old fences and tree blazes are found. The Caribou is one of the areas protected by the first major legislation for setting aside lands from development and resource extraction. The 1964 Wilderness Act created the Caribou Wilderness out of what was a primitive area since 1932. As a result, an almost pristine, old-growth forest describes the Caribou.

Three trailheads give access to the wilderness; Hay Meadows in the south, Cone Lake in the north and Silver Lake on the east which is also the most popular entry point; as well, the Wilderness can be accessed by trails leading in from Lassen Volcanic National Park to the west. Travel by foot or horseback is easy because the landscape has only moderate hills and valleys. No wilderness permits are required, only a California campfire permit for open fires. There are many other trails connecting to other lakes such as Evelyn Lakes as well as trails to the national park's backcountry wilderness area on the west. Backpacking and day hikes are possible with a variety of one-way or loop trips of any length. There are lakes within two miles (3 km) of any trailhead as well as volcanic cinder cones and rocky cliffs for the more adventurous visitors. Off-trail travel is possible but challenging due to many large fallen trees and brush between wet meadows which is the nature of a wilderness area.

A wilderness addition was proposed for areas just outside the present boundaries including Indian Meadow (near Hay Meadow) and the lake for which the wilderness is named. These 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) have been identified by the forest service for having ancient forests of white fir, western white pine, sugar pine, lodgepole pine, red fir, incense cedar and Jeffrey pine. This proposed addition did not make it into the 2006 Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act.

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