The Monarch Wilderness (also Monarch Wilderness Complex) is a federally designated wilderness area located 70 miles east of Fresno, California, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It encompasses 44,896 acres (181.69 km2) within both the Sequoia National Forest and the Sierra National Forest and is managed by the United States Forest Service. Elevations range from 950 feet (290 m) to 11,081 ft (3,377 m).
Formerly known as the High Sierra Primitive Area, the California Wilderness Act of 1984 created the Monarch Wilderness and became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Adjacent to the wilderness are several roadless areas: Kings Range Special Management Area (SMA), Agnew Roadless Area and the Oat Mountain Roadless Area. The name Monarch Wilderness Complex includes the wilderness proper and these adjacent lands for a total size of 114,347 acres (462.75 km2).
Kings River Special Management Area
The United States Congress established the Kings River Special Management Area (SMA) in 1987 to "provide for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment...to protect those areas' natural, archaeological, and scenic resources, and to provide for appropriate fish and wildlife management...". The SMA is managed by the Sierra National Forest which can limit certain uses of the area, such as timber cutting, hunting and fishing. There is no mining allowed within the SMA. A management plan is required that includes a provision for "management of vegetation within the area designed to enhance the wildlife carrying capacity of the area." The law does not change existing off-road vehicle management rules, but does require the establishment of a trail into Little Tehipite Valley.
The special management area is located at the confluence of the Kings River and the North Fork, and protects the deepest part of the Kings Canyon as well as stands of Giant Sequoia (the Cabin Creek and Converse Mountain Groves), the World's largest trees, and important wintering ranges for the Monarch and Hume deer herds. The SMA provides habitat for deer, black bear, coyote, marten, gray fox and a variety of birds. Bats are common in the limestone caves in the southeast portion of the SMA.
Recreation And Access
Day hiking, backpacking, nature photography and whitewater rafting are some of the activities in the wilderness. The north unit requires permits for overnight use. The main trail in this area is the 9-mile Deer Cove Trail which provides access to the Monarch Divide.
The south unit of the wilderness in Sequoia National Forest does not require permits and has three trailheads and three main trails into the wilderness. The Kanawyer Trail is 12 miles (19 km) in length and goes to Sequoia National Park to the west. The SMA unit contains numerous waterfalls and pools of the Kings Canyon. The three-mile-long (5 km) Kings River National Recreation Trail provides access up-canyon along the river.