Minimum Impact Stock Regulations
Stock party on the Franklin Lakes Trail in Mineral King.
"No trace" camping is standard practice in the wilderness. Proper stock use is an important way for you to minimize impacts and adequately care for your animals. Everyone in your party should be familiar with the following guidelines as well as the latest Stock Use and Grazing Regulations (Download pdf, 71kb) for wilderness stock use. You will receive a copy of these regulations when you pick up your wilderness permit.
Planning Your Trip
- The Stock Users Guide describes the designated forage areas and grazing regulations. It is available through the Wilderness Office. Use it to select areas where your stock can graze with minimum impact. An on-line copy of the Stock Users Guide will be available in the future.
- Opening dates are established to protect meadows from stock impacts while they are wet and soft. Grazing is not permitted prior to these dates.
- Take only as many animals as necessary to make your trip successful; use lightweight, compact equipment to minimize the number of pack animals you'll need. Maximum number of stock allowed per party is 20. Some areas have lower limits.
On the Trail
- Stock are restricted to maintained trails in most areas. You may travel up to 1/2 mile from trails to reach a campsite. Off-trail stock use is permitted only in certain areas; check the Stock Users Guide or grazing regulations.
- Please reduce impacts by riding in the center of the trail. Shortcutting trails and switchbacks is prohibited. Riding off-trail to avoid sandy, muddy or rocky spots causes additional damage to the trail. Ride over, not around, water bars, causeways and riprap. Move trail obstacles instead of skirting them. Double-rope (a lead rope around both sides of the animal ahead) string animals that habitually walk off-trail. Notify a ranger of obstacles or problems.
- Please use tact and courtesy with hikers when asking for the right-of-way. Ask hikers to step off the trail on the downhill side in plain view and to remain still until stock have passed.
- If any of your stock dies in the backcountry, notify a ranger as soon as possible for help in properly disposing of the animal. Dead stock must be moved at least 300 feet from trails, campsites and water within 72 hours.
- As a general rule, stock should be confined as little as possible. Restless, restrained animals trample vegetation, paw up tree roots and debark trees.
- However, stock must be restrained at all times prior to the grazing opening dates or in areas closed to grazing. Carry substitute feed (processed hay pellets, cubes or weed-free hay) in these areas. Use nosebags or lay feed out on a tarp, not on the ground.
- When confinement is necessary, use existing hitch rails or a hitch line with "tree-saver" straps between two trees or rocks on a flat, hard, non-vegetated site at least 100 feet away from the trail, water and camp. Hobble animals that paw excessively.
- Tie to trees only when packing or unpacking stock. Never tie to a tree smaller than 6 inches in diameter.
- When leading stock to water, go downstream well away from campsites. Avoid fragile streambanks and lakeshores.
- Be sure that forage and water near your camp can support the needs of your stock. Avoid places that have already been heavily grazed, and don't stay too long in one area. Overgrazing weakens grasses, allows weeds to grow, leaves nothing for the next party, and ruins the beauty of the meadows. Some areas have length-of-stay limits; check the Stock Users Guide or grazing regulations.
- Drift fences have been provided in many areas to help hold stock. When turning your stock loose to graze, examine the terrain to predict where they'll go. Use bells only on lead animals. Hobbles may be used, but will become less effective with time. Picketing and portable electric fences are permitted as long as they are moved frequently enough to prevent trampling and overgrazing. If you use these methods, try restraining only enough animals to keep the rest from straying. To minimize risk of injury, introduce stock to hobbles, picketing and electric fences at home, not in the wilderness.
- Your stock will be easier to catch if they are trained beforehand to expect grain.
- Carry a rake to fill in pawed-up areas and scatter all manure piles when you leave camp. Remove all manure from within 100' of the campsite to reduce odors and insect problems, and to maintain the appearance of the site.
- Pack out everything you packed in! Leave nothing behind!
After Your Trip
- We welcome your comments on the condition of the wilderness and your wilderness experience.
- Effective management of stock use requires accurate data on patterns of use. Please return the Stock Use Reporting Card (available from the Wilderness Office or wherever you obtain your wilderness permit) to the nearest ranger station, or mail it to
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271