Ok guy(s), honesty time. I’m a map dork. I dig ‘em. It’s a good time to be alive – all the info you can ever imagine, all there for the taking, much of it in snazzy maps. For absolutely no reason, here’s an inventory of some of my favorite maps.
First off, Tom Harrison maps are cool. They’re about 10 bucks and tell you the good stuff – trails, campsites, mileages, fire roads. A couple of the ones I have are for the southerly bits of the sierra –
South Sierra Wilderness Trail Map – This is the area directly south of the Golden Trout Wilderness. Includes key sections like Kennedy Meadows and Monache Meadow. When your up on the Kern plateau these are good things – there’s not too many ways in from this side. The beautiful and rugged Sherman Pass Road gets you up there.
Golden Trout Wilderness Trail Map. Also a great map. Bordered by the 395 and Owens Valley on the far east. South Fork of the Kern as you move west, with John Muir Wilderness at the north. The beautiful Kern River runs down the middle. Then as you move more towards the west, the Great Western Divide. With Camp Nelson on the far west, where there be some fine mountain biking I’m told. I’d like to get my butt up there to Camp Nelson one of these days. The “wilderness” designation takes over farther east, meaning “no wheels,” so bring your walking shoes for that area.
One of my favorite maps isn’t a Tom Harrison, but it’s by the excellent folks at Extremeline (go buy their books like Mountain Biking in Mammoth & The Eastern Sierra. Just do it. The Eastern Sierras will open up to you in new ways, for those of you into such things). The map’s called “The Kern River Sierra Outdoor Recreation Topo Map” and I can stare at it for disturbingly long lengths of time. It’s got that whole area up there, w/ all the mountain biking trails. Basically as far south as the Piute Mountains (home of the extremely rare Piute Cypress I might add, a conifer occurring nowhere else on our great big green globe called earth) and Havilah (once the county seat of Kern you might not know, before that bustling cosmopolitan metropolis we’ve come to know and love as Bakersfield took over the honor; Havilah was named after wishful thinking miners dreaming of Havilah’s gold in the Old Testament hah fat chance). Extending as far north as Yellowjacket Mountain, which is basically just north of Kernville. If you’ve been to Kernville you know Yellowjacket Mtn- it’s the massive granite slab off in the distance up river looking down on the Kern. The map has Isabella Lake (now puddle) in the middle. Greenhorn Mountains to the west w/ their lovely Just Outstanding mountain bike trail, and the delightful Cannel Trail mtn bike trail rims the east side on the plateau. Great map.
And of course the amazingly awesome Sequoia National Forest including Giant Sequoia National Monument map put out by the kind folks at the US Forest Service Department of Agriculture. This map is nearly taller than I am. They have this map on display in a giant glass case outside the ranger station in Kernville, and I tracked it down at the local James Store and picked up a copy with a deep and abiding glee. I won’t even try to describe it. It’s just awesome. I’ve got a dozen or so of the 7.5 minute quadrangle topo maps of the area up there, and this beast combines all those and zooms out a few thousand feet and just gives you the good and big bits. It’s a delightful way to spend an afternoon, and I gaze at it longingly planning many great trips I will never do. (Btw “gaze it it longingly” is the creepiest phrase I can drum up.)
There you go folks. Don’t say I never told you nuthin. Now go outside and play, and maybe take a map w/ you.