South Warner Wilderness

South Warner Wilderness

Infobox Protected area
name =South Warner Wilderness
iucn_category =Ib

caption =
base_width =
locator_x =19
locator_y =64
location =
nearest_city =Alturas, California
coords = coord|41.3165622|-120.1760540|type:landmark_region:US-CA_source:gnis|display=inline,title [ gnis|1702410 ]
area = convert|70385|acre|km2
established = 1964
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body =U.S. Forest Service
world_heritage_site =
The South Warner Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area convert|12|mi|km|0 east of Alturas, California, USA. It encompasses more than convert|70000|acre|km2|0 of the Warner Mountains. It is managed by the Modoc National Forest. Elevations range from convert|5000|ft|m|-2 to 9,892 ft (3,015 m) at Eagle Peak.

The highest parts of the Warner Mountains were set aside in 1931 as a primitive area. In 1964, the Wilderness Act created the South Warner Wilderness. In 1984, convert|1940|acre|km2 were added to the wilderness with the passage of the California Wilderness Act. [ [ California Wilderness Act 0f 1984 text, National Park Service website] retrieved 3/5/2008]

The Warner crest divides waters that flow west into the Sacramento/Pit River drainage, and east into the Great Basin Alkali lakes of Surprise Valley. Much of the crest is a narrow ridgeline with notable peaks such as Emerson Peak and Squaw Peak. The eastern side of the wilderness is a steep, abrupt escarpment of volcanic terrain of cliff bands and terraces. Very different from the east side are the western slopes. Heavily forested, steadily rising slopes furrowed by several drainages such as Mill Creek.

The west side also includes a portion of a convert|6016|acre|ha|0|adj=on state game refuge.


On either side of the Warner Mountain Range are fault lines going north - south. The faultline on the east is the Surprise Valley Fault and on the west the Likely Fault. The Warner range is a block fault range, meaning that a block of earth's crust was pushed upward by the movement of the faults. The steep escarpment on the east side of the range is the exposed side of that fault. [Hinds, Norman E. A. "Evolution of the California Landscape" Division of Mines Bulletin 158, 1960, p. 80] Geologists estimate that basalt lava flows occurred 15 to 30 million years ago, creating the Modoc Plateau which is a part of the larger Columbia Plateau. The breaking up of the crust occurred about 10 million years ago with large blocks moving and more volcanic lava flows, which created the mountains and block fault valleys of recent time. [Alt, David D. and Hyndman,Donald W., "Roadside Geology of Northern California", Mountain Press Publishing, 1975, pp. 210-213] The landscape of today is not from mountain building but from the forces of erosion such as wind, water, and glaciation that are continually altering the surface contours.


There are several lakes in the wilderness: Patterson, Mosquito, South Emerson, North Emerson, Clear Lake, Cottonwood, Cougar, Linderman, and Irons.Patterson Lake is the largest, highest in elevation and most visited. It also has a self-sustaining population of trout.

Flora and fauna

The rich volcanic soils support dense stands of western juniper, Ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, and white fir trees. At the highest elevations are lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, fields of sagebrush and bitterbrush.

The Rocky Mountain mule deer forage here, also mountain lions, beaver, bobcat, coyote and martins.

The wilderness is on the path of the Pacific Flyway so birdwatching can be very rewarding.


Hiking is the most popular activity, with horseback riding and backpacking second, and fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing making up the remainder.Dramatic views from the crest include Mount Shasta in the west, Modoc Plateau to the north, Surprise Valley in the Great Basin in the east and in the south, the Sierra Nevada range. Visitors to the South Warner Wilderness should employ the Leave No Trace principles of wilderness travel.

There are convert|79.2|mi|km|0 of trails within the wilderness area, plus unmaintained pathways adding another convert|20|mi|km|0. There are eight trailheads surrounding the wilderness and five campgrounds.

Pepperdine Trailhead offers corrals for horses and stock parties.

The Forest Service encourages the practice of Leave No Trace principles of outdoor travel to minimize human impact on the environment.



Adkison, Ron, "Wild Northern California "The Globe Pequot Press, 2001

External links

* [ Modoc National Forest official website, South Warner Wilderness section]
* [ The Bureau of Land Management's Leave No Trace training page]

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