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John Muir Wilderness

Distance: 268 miles one-way. California is home to 138 designated wilderness areas, protected by some of the nation's strictest land protection laws. For hikers, the John Muir Wilderness, southwest of Mammoth Lakes, has few equals. With 590 miles of trails, dozens of pristine aquamarine lakes and the most spectacular peaks in the Sierra Nevada, this wilderness area exemplifies the beauty its namesake so prized. The office to obtain permits to enter the wilderness is at 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop. Info: (760) 873-2485, www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/recreation/wild/john-muir.shtml --Hugo Martin Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times
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