Mendocino National Forest

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General Information

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.





Other Plants

Camping Possibilities

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.

Other Information


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Hiking or Walking Groups Nearby

Group Name: BPLrs of Humboldt

Group Description: Looking for others to hike with that are interested in lightweight/ultralight backpacking, and participate online at Backpackinglight.com 8-15 mile days. Lost Coast, King Range, Trinity Alps and beyond.

Group Name: Sonoma County Wanderers

Group Description: This is a hiking group for the intermediate hiker! For a hiker that enjoys a relaxed pace, conversation, picture taking and the journey as much as the destination. We usually do between 4 and 10 miles with moderate elevation gain.
Come join us!

Upcoming Hikes

There are no upcoming hikes. Be the first to start one!

Past Hikes

Backpack Photography Trip to Snow Mtn.Wilderness 6/17-18-19 | 23.7 km away

Date: Friday, 6-17-2011

Description: Weather-permitting we will see abundant wildflowers, star-filled night skies, full moon.\\r\\nHike from Summit Spring Trailhead in the Mendocino National Forest through the Snow Mountain Wilderness. 4 miles and about 2,000 feet elevation gain to the Summit Basin campsite. About 2 more miles and a few hundred more feet elevation to reach the East summit. Friday night - night sky photo opportunity. Saturday explore the mountain and photograph the wildflowers. Break camp about 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning to be back in the Bay Area before dark.

Paddle Lake Sonoma | 64.2 km away

Date: Sunday, 6-26-2011

Description: *** UPDATE: I have 20 people coming so far. *** This is a 10 mile round trip paddle, from Yorty Creek to the end of the Dry Creek Arm, where we'll pull up to a beach and have a picnic. Then we'll do a 2 mile round trip hike to the waterfall and go for a swim. You need to bring your own canoe or kayak, meet at Yorty Creek boat ramp at 9:30. There may be a launch fee. We will start paddling by 10:00. Last year it took us about 2 hrs to get to the lunch spot. No carpools since we have to transport our boats, but do catch a ride with a friend if you can. If you enjoy paddling and have your own kayak check out the Petaluma Paddlers. They are a very active and friendly bunch. Please bring lunch, plenty of water, a snack, and sun protection. Wear layers, it may be cool in the morning but it's going to warm up to 85 degrees. You'll want to go swimming, we'll probably swim in the lake and at the waterfall. Wear shoes or sandals suitable for wading and making the 2 mile round trip h ....

Table Rock Hike at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park at 8:30am | 71.1 km away

Date: Tuesday, 7-5-2011

Description: This is an easy hike to a gorgeous viewpoint overlooking the Napa valley. It's 4.4 miles roundtrip and an elevation gain of 500 feet. We will meet at the Robert Louis Stevenson parking lot. From Highway 29 in downtown Calistoga drive 8.5 miles northeast up the winding mountain road. The parking lot is right at the mountains summit. It is the same parking lot used for the St. Helena Hike. If anyone wants to car pool from Healdsburg. I can pick you up at 7:30 at Big Johns Supermarket. This hike is very interesting. You start through a forest and soon find yourself surrounded by natural volcanic rock sculptures..of course the end is terrific with a sweeping view. As always: •Bring plenty of water •Wear comfortable hiking shoes •Dress in layers as the hike will start off cool but warm up when we leave the forest •We will stay at the viewpoint for about 10 minutes..bring a snack if you like •Arrive early as we will head out on the trail promptly at 8:30 •Check your em ....

Girlfriend Get Away: Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, Northern California | 66.5 km away

Date: Saturday, 7-23-2011

Description: Get a chance to gain a solid foundation of backpacking skills while exploring lush meadows, alpine lakes, glacier fed creeks, and awe-inspiring mountains. The hiking itinerary is manageable, so we can enjoy ourselves in this gorgeous alpine environment! Go to: http://roamthewoods.com/Trinity.html for more details or www.roamthewoods.com

Girlfriend Getaway: Lassen Volcanic National Park Week Long Backpacking Adventure | 66.5 km away

Date: Saturday, 9-17-2011

Description: Come join us for the week in Lassen National Park. The southernmost portion of the Cascade Range will be our classroom for the week. Enjoy solitude and camaraderie in a back country few wander into, while reveling in the awe-inspiring geologic features Lassen is home to. Please contact the organizer for more details or visit www.roamthewoods.com.

Armstrong Woods East Ridge Hike | 79.3 km away

Date: Wednesday, 10-5-2011

Description: This hike is about 5-6 miles with an elevation gain of 1400ft...the great thing about this hike is that a good portion of it is in the shade. We've done this before but it is such a favorite that we will keep on doing it on a regular basis! This hike is all about having fun and getting some exercise in a comfortable setting. We won't be setting any speed records or winning any awards! It's all about spending time with other people, getting outside for some activity and having fun. You won't be held accountable to identify all of the plant or animal life, though I hope we see an abundance of both! This hike has a few relentless hills that keep going on up but it is well worth the huffs and the puffs to get up there. To enjoy this hike you should be able to comfortably walk uphill at a steady pace for an extended period. To get to the trailhead: From downtown Guerneville on Main St. (Highway 116), drive 2.3 miles north on Armstrong Woods Road to the visitor center on the right, ....

Oat Hill Mine Road and the Palisades | 76.3 km away

Date: Saturday, 4-20-2013

Description: Introduction
The palisades are beautiful, and this hike offers gorgeous views of it and the Calistoga valley. This hike simply goes up to Robert Louis Stevenson park or Down from the park to the Pizza place at the trailhead. This makes it easy to offer several hiking options - people can simply turn around when they are tired. The grade is fairly easy on the knees but undulates across the front of the palisades.

Extra Items:

Most of this hike is exposed to the sun. We recommend doing it during winter, or on cool days <65F. Bring 3-4 22oz water bottles each for 65 degree weather. Seriously! Wear sturdy hiking boots, the palisades trail is not well worn and is rocky in places. If you have them, bring 2-way radios so the fast + slow groups can keep in touch.

Hiking options:
◾Carpool: Add 2 hours to each of these times to cover carpooling + lunch + hike intro.
◾Short hike to bald hill: 2 hours 45 mins. 5.7 miles, 1300ft gain/loss.
◾Medium hike to Pali ....