- Piper Mountain Wilderness
Infobox_protected_area | name = Piper Mountain Wilderness
iucn_category = Ib
caption = Map of the
locator_x = 25
locator_y = 90
lat_degrees = 37
lat_minutes = 19
lat_seconds = 22
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 117
long_minutes = 35
long_seconds = 54
long_direction = W
area = 72,575 acres
established = 1994
Department of the Interior/ Bureau of Land Management
The Piper Mountain Wilderness is a federally designated
wilderness arealocated convert|20|mi|km
Big Pine, California. It was created by the 1994 California Desert Protection Actand encompasses convert|72575|acre|km2 [ [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c103:5:./temp/~c1037c5NWv:e5038: Text of bill from Library of Congress website] acessed 9-4-08] of Great Basinwildlands. Because the Piper Mountain area received federal protection so recently, the convert|19|mi|km of trail are actually closed four-wheel drive roads. There are three separate units of the wilderness, separated by vehicle corridors, with elevations from convert|3430|ft|m to convert|8805|ft|m. The landscape is characterized by steep mountains, narrow canyons, sloping alluvialfans and level floodplains. It includes a subrange of the Inyo Mountainscalled the Chocolate Mountains, a northwestern section of the Last Chance Rangeand the upper end of Eureka Valley which is immediately north of Death Valley National Park.
Recreational opportunities are day-hiking and backpacking with solitude almost guaranteed as the wilderness is very lightly used. The
Bureau of Land Managementoversees the Piper Wilderness and does not require any permits for visitors.
The vehicle corridors that break the Piper Wilderness into three parts were a
concessionmade when the area was added to the California Desert Protection Act.
The western section is the largest of the three and includes the east side, the steep west side and the crest of the Chocolate Mountains subrange.
The central section is separated from the western portion by a road linking
State Route 168to Death Valley Road. A colorful and deeply dissected bahada rising to a subrange of the Last Chance Mountains characterize the central section.
The last and smallest section of the wilderness is separated from the central portion by Loretto Mine Road and Horse Thief Canyon and is a continuation of the Last Chance subrange with its border being the Eureka Valley Road and Death Valley National Park.
Desert vegetation include coarse shrubs of cresote in the valleys and
shadscale, littleleaf horsebrush, cliffrose, desert-olive and Mormon teaon the higher elevations. North-facing high elevation slopes are studded with pinyon pineand juniper. The highest peaks of the wilderness are in the Chocolate Mountains and include Mount Nunn (7,830 ft) and Lime Hill (6,570 ft). The wilderness's namesake Piper Mountain rises to an elevation of convert|7705|ft|m.
Water is the single most limiting fator when exploring this desert wilderness. Caching water is possible in many locations because of the road corridors through the area. The majority of visitors are students from Deep Springs College in Deep Springs Valley, located between highway 168 and the western edge of the wilderness.Most often hiked is the deep notch of the Soldier Pass Canyon which extends east to west in the Chocolate Mountains. ( Maps dating to 1879 show a "Soldier Pass" label.) [Adkinson, Ron "Wild Northern California-A guide to forty-one roadless areas including the entire Sierra Nevada." Globe Piquet Press, 2001 p.102] The eastern face of the Chocolate Mountains rise convert|2000|ft|m above the canyon mouth with the canyon narrowing as it rises in elevation. The broad saddle of Soldier Pass is gained after convert|3.2|mi|km and is at an elevation of convert|5500|ft|m.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) encourages the practice of
Leave No Traceprinciples of wilderness travel to help protect the fragile desert environment.
Desert Pact it in,pack it out Environmental ethics
Adkinson, Ron "Wild Northern California-A guide to forty-one roadless areas including the entire Sierra Nevada". Globe Piquet Press, 2001
[http://www.blm.gov/ca/pa/wilderness/wa/areas/piper_mountain.html BLM Official website on the Piper Mountain Wilderness] .
[http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/blmfacts.2.html The Ridgecrest District of the BLM.]
[http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/wilderness/leavenotrace.html BLM's Leave No Trace training page.]
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