I posted some info HERE about the Snow Mountain Wilderness that you may find useful.
I know you said you're hesitant about the Sierra due to bears, but I think you should really reconsider it. There are plenty of trailheads less than 3 hours away in the Tahoe, Eldorado, and Stanislaus National Forests that just don't seem to have the same type of bear pressure that some of the more popular areas do (e.g. Yosemite, SEKI). Besides, I'm sure most here can attest that bear encounters are rare and most likely go down like this. "Hey, look a bear." "Where?" "Oh man, it just ran off. That was so cool!" I'm actually on higher alert when hiking at lower elevations due to rattlesnakes, poison oak, water quality, raccoons, mice, stinging nettles, mountain lions, etc.
If you'd like some specific trail suggestions, let me know and I can suggest a few.