U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Mendocino National Forest


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Forest Information

The Mendocino National Forest is located in northwestern California and is comprised of 886,048 acres. There are 43 developed campgrounds, 15 of which meet the selection criteria. The Mendocino National Forest begins as a small presence near Red Bluff, California in golden foothills along the Sacramento River and expands into lush western mountains to within sight of the Pacific Ocean. These towering mountains, covered with forests, dotted by canyons, lakes, and ponds, provide a great location for a variety of recreational opportunities. Such opportunities as hiking, camping, fishing, and even hand-gliding and Off-Highway-Vehicle (OHV) riding, are available in the Mendocino National Forest. While only a three-hour drive from San Francisco, one of the amazing things about the Mendocino National Forest, is it retains an undiscovered feeling.

Hiking a crest trail along a mountain ridge, on a path through a deep forest, or down a canyon, the Mendocino National Forest has many wonderful trails to enjoy. A forest crest trail offers breath-taking vistas along with physical challenges and magnificent solitude. Trails through deep forests provide quiet woodlands, clean pine scented air and unexpected glimpses of wildlife. Hiking the Mendocino's canyons or across mountain meadows in spring or summer means time among purple-blue lupine, happy orange poppy, bush lilac, and a variety of ferns and wildflowers. The Mendocino National Forest has a trail for everyone. Possibilities range from the over four miles of paved, level walkways near Sycamore Grove campground to the very challenging 7-mile East Peak Loop trail in the Snow Mountain Wilderness. (Contact the Mendocino National Forest Supervisor's Office for more trail information, details, and current conditions.)

For those who want to explore the Mendocino National Forest via a motorized mode, there are over a hundred miles of off-highway trails. There is a Northern area and Southern area in the Upper Lake Ranger District and the Stonyford area of the Grindstone Ranger District dedicated to OHV adventures. And these areas are supported by developed campgrounds that cater to OHVrs. Fouts Springs campground, adjacent to Stornyford area's network of trails, is located in a burned over area and offers campsites large enough for all the equipment needed for a good day of OHVing. Middle Creek campground, just outside Stonyford, features connector trails to a huge network of trails and a riparian environment for a quiet moment or two.

For quiet and solitude is there any better activity then fishing? Letts Lake, just 19 miles east of the small ranching community of Stonyford, is well known for its Rainbow trout, Black bass, and catfish. A picturesque four loop campground called Letts Lake provides campers with a great location for enjoying the lake's beauty and bounty.

The 2,280-acre Lake Pillsbury also has trout and bass along with Sacramento pike and several nice developed campgrounds. Fuller Grove at one end and Sunset Point at the other, have basic amenities for a good camping experience. A freshly caught fish from Lake Pillsbury makes for a great dinner.

One unique thing about Lake Pillsbury is the old-fashion airstrip separating the campgrounds. (Look for the stop sign or you will miss it.) Hand-gliding is becoming a popular activity in the Mendocino National Forest. Lake Pillsbury's Gravelly Airstrip is just one of the many landing areas for the hand-glider enthusiast. Launch locations are, in the Upper Lake District, Hull Mountain and Elk Mountain, and, in the Grindstone District, Potato Ridge. While experts find flights over the Forest exciting and challenging, this is not an activity for the novice. Contact the appropriate Ranger District Office for more information and conditions.

There is history in the Mendocino National Forest, too, for those who are interested. At one time, sawmills, mines, and their supporting communities dotted the Forest but little is left today except place names on maps. There are also the ruins of three resort hotels, mineral baths, and bottling plant for mineral water at Bartlett Flats, Fouts Springs, Hough Springs, and Allen Springs. One annual event that relives the past retraces the Nome Cult Trail, also called, "A Trail of Tears." The event remembers when the Native People (Maidu) were relocated from Chico, California to the Nome Cult Reservation in 1863.

The Mendocino National Forest straddles the eastern spur of the Coastal Mountain Range. From a distance, these mountains appear to be painted on the horizon in somber shades of black. But there is nothing somber about the fun and adventures that await discovery.


SUPERVISOR OFFICE 825 Humboldt Ave. Willows, California 95988 530-934-3316 RANGER DISTRICT OFFICES Covelo 78150 Covelo Rd. Covelo, California 95428 707-983-6118 Grindstone 825 North Humboldt Avenue Willows, California 95988 530-934-3316 Upper Lake 10025 Elk Mountain Road Upper Lake, California 95485 707-275-2361

Fred and Suzi Dow