The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the area and the entire area west of it (D8) is a non-lead area. I don't know how heavily the Trail is travelled, but I've seen people that are hiking it recently and I just saw that Oprah recommended a book about the trail, so there may be more people up there while the weather is good.
As far as access, from the east, you can go up Indian Wells Canyon, get to the Trail and then follow that along the high elevations. There is a Jeep trail that you can take to the most northwestern part of the canyon, I couldn't get my F250 all the way up because the trail got too tight in some spots, but a smaller vehicle should be able to make it.
North of that, the next two canyons close up pretty quick, so unless you like hopping boulders, I wouldn't suggest going up. 9 Mile Canyon, which goes up to Kennedy Meadows, is the next and most northern access from the east and takes you into the northern part of the zone.
You can access the zone from the west and south by Hwy 178, either from 99 or 395. You can catch the Trail in Walkers Pass and head north or there is a road that runs up the western border of the zone (and is the border between the lead and non-lead areas).
The area on the east side of Owens Peak, including part of Indian Wells Valley, burned about 2 years ago.
Oh, and there is a brewery and steakhouse on 395 - good stuff.
Happy hunting and good luck.