The only guidebook that I’m aware of that covers the Granite Chief Wilderness reasonably well is Jeffrey Schaffer’s The Tahoe Sierra, which has 10 hikes in or near the wilderness, published by Wilderness Press, ISBN 0-89997-220-9. This is currently out of print, but there is probably a copy in your library, and is still available in local bookstores and online. If you have a Google account, you can use Google Book Search and add a preview of this book to your library. Many other trail guides cover the Pacific Crest Trail through the eastern edge of the wilderness, and maybe one other hike, but Schaffer’s book is the most comprehensive. Highly recommended!


The Pacific Crest Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail are the same from well south of the wilderness through just south of Twin Peaks, where the TRT takes off east towards Tahoe City.
Granite Chief does not have an official Forest Service wilderness map of the sort many wilderness areas have, but does have a sketch map. The best map I’ve found is the National Geographic Trails Illustrated 804 Tahoe National Forest: Yuba and American Rivers (or the TI 803 Lake Tahoe, which also covers the wilderness). It is not perfect, and has trails traced that are not really trails (see the Trails page), but it has the full wilderness as opposed to many other recreational maps which show only slices of it.

The four USGS quadrangles are Homewood (southeast), Wentworth Springs (southwest), Granite Chief (northwest), and Tahoe City (northeast). If you are using mapping software, central coordinates for the wilderness are latitude 39 degrees, 9 minutes and longitude 120 degrees, 16 minutes. If you take a look at the base topographic maps, you’ll see several trails that don’t show up on current recreational maps, or that have different alignments. Places to explore!

Except for a tiny corner that is within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the wilderness is within the Truckee and American River Ranger Districts of the Tahoe National Forest.

Place Names

I’m very curious about the place names in the wilderness. All I’ve been able to find so far is place name references to location and what USGS map it was first published on, but so far no information about where the name came from. Any ideas? Why is it Picayune Valley?

More Resources

Check the “Other Granite Chief websites” links in the right sidebar for more information. And suggest resources that you’ve discovered!

2 thoughts on “Resources

  1. Jesse S

    “Picayune Valley, like many high-elevation
    valleys, was spared from the hIghly
    destructive exploitations of the Gold Rush.
    In 1864 a mining district was established
    that apparently tailed to yield much gold;
    the mmers called it picayune after the
    smallest coin (five cents) of the midnineteenth
    century, which came to mean
    paltry or insignificant (Gudde 1949:244). ”

    Click to access Proceedings.15Smith.pdf

    1. Dan Allison Post author

      Thank you for the contribution. The rock art in Picayune is common and pretty widespread, but as it is on horizontal surfaces, hard to find and see except in certain light conditions.


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