Mendocino National Forest
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The Mendocino National Forest is located in Northern California. The forest borders the eastern part of the Coastal Mountain Range. Mendocino is just one of the national forests in Northern California, but for many people it is one of the more convenient of the huge forests to get to because it is closer to the more densely populated area of Northern California like Sacramento, North Bay, and of course, San Francisco.
The forest spans just over 900,000 acres. The terrain of the forest is obviously lots of woods, some mountains and canyons. Popular recreational activities in Mendocino is various types of camping, hiking, backpacking, boating, fishing, swimming, hanging out on the beaches, hunting, nature study, photography, and much more.
The forest is divided into what are known as ranger districts. There are 3 such ranger districts at the forests:
1) Covelo Ranger District
2) Grindstone Ranger District
3) Upper Lake Ranger District
There are four wilderness areas at the forest:
1) Snow Mountain Wilderness
2) Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness
3) Yuki Wilderness
4) Sanhedrin Wilderness.
Trailhead Name: Summit Springs Thd, Mendocino National Forest
Trailhead Description: Trailhead is our entry point to the Snow Mountain Wilderness.
Parking is not available or very limited at this trailhead
Parking spots: 5
Parking is NOT free at this trailhead
Access to trail is NOT wheelchair accessible
Restrooms available: NO
Routes and Trails You Can Travel
We currently do not have any record of good routes in this park.
The forest is rich in diverse hiking opportunities. There are a number of things you can do. Families or people who can not go for very long hikes, can enjoy the short interpretive trails that also focus on nature education. These are often nice to take kids to as they will remember some of the things they learned here for a long time.
People seeking longer hikes can also find plenty of variety. There are a number of ridges which provide very challenging hikes with large gains in altitude.
If you want to hike in more isolated areas, you can try one out of the four wilderness areas in the forest. Wilderness areas are special segments of the forests that are preserved much more intensely. Motorized vehicles are not allowed to go into these areas and the trails are not kept up well. The great thing about these areas is that there are very few people you can bump into, and can experience the forest in a state that is much closer to its original habitat before westerners began moving into the land.
If you do enter the wilderness areas, make sure you are well prepared and trained for wilderness survival. Since there are no motor vehicles allowed in the area, if you get hurt, help might not arrive quickly. And if you get lost, you must be able to find your way out. The wilderness areas are very large so if you can not find your way out, that is trouble!
To learn more about Wilderness Areas, take a looks here:
Climate and Weather
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Before westerners began moving into the area that is now Northern California, the patch of land that is now the Mendocino National Forest was home to the native people who called this land their home for thousands of years. There were 5 different tribes of native people: the Yuki, Nomlaki Wintu, Patwin Wintu, Eastern Pomo, and Northeastern Pomo.
There are a number of archeological sites in the area that to this day continue to discover more and more about the people who were once kings of this area.
While westerners began coming to this area much earlier than during the era of the Gold Rush, real communities and towns built by westerners really began to grow here during the gold rush when people began coming to the areas all over what is now Northern California, in search of riches and adventure.
After the gold rush, there was another financial boom in the area. People realized that the lush forests can be cut down and the wood can be sold as building materials. Many saw mills were built in the forests and a mass cutting down of the forests began. In special demand were the California Redwood trees, renowned for its strong and durable wood.
An anecdote in Northern California today is that older homes built out of redwood around the turn of the 20th century, hold up better and are worth more in property value than homes which were built out of any other wood used for building homes later in the century,
The Mendocino Forest areas was home to many such sawmills.
But the "taking from the land" didn't stop there. There was also considerable mining going on in the area. During the late 1800s, people mined the area for copper. But the mining here never took off. Copper is cheap and can be found in many other areas. By the beginning of the 20th century, mining for copper here stopped.
By the turn of the 20th century, many people in the scientific community began raising alarms about the abuse of the area and the need to protect the natural habitat of the forests as it had been for thousands of years before westerners began moving in less than a mere 100 years before.
President Roosevelt is credited with much of the effort in helping preserve the many national and park forests and recreation areas we still have today. The area that is now Mendocino was originally saved by Roosevelt as one of the lands aimed for preservation. The area got its name of Mendocino much later, in the 1930s.
The type of large area that is the Mendocino National Forest is perfect for camping probably more than anything else. The forest is quite a drive away from most of the densly populated areas like the San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. So it really makes sense to stay a few days and enjoy all the forest has to offer. And the forest offers a lot.
If you stay at the forest for a few days, one day you can go hiking, another day you can relax and do some water-based activity like swimming in any of the lakes, hanging out at the beach, or renting a paddle boat.
If you are an experienced outdoors person, you can enter one of the four wilderness areas at the forest. Wilderness areas are special designated areas where vehicles are not allowed to enter and the trails are not as pretty and manicured as people are used to in other parks. These areas are good for people who really want to enter very isolated areas of the forest. The camping there is vastly different than the nice family and car/RV camping that most people do.