Archives for category: – Trips: The Western US
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Back on the CBDT on Forest Road 23. Photo: Nik Schulz

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After a little target shooting and a bit of breakfast we got back on Forest Road 23 and continued up the California Backcountry Discovery Trail. We weren’t sure where we would stop for the night but since we were passing by Ruth Lake again, only this time at much higher elevation on the ridge above the lake, we thought we’d find something there.

I don’t know if it had anything to do with my totem pants β€” a pair of white jeans I painted in the style of Pacific Northwest native art and which seem to convey good fortune on many a situation πŸ™‚ β€” but we were blown away by the beautiful spot we found.

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Ruth Lake: Photo: Gregory McDonald

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On this part of our trip up the California Backcountry Discovery Trail, we spent a couple of nights at Fir Cove Campground on Ruth Lake. After leaving there we found one of the nicest remote campsites of the trip. Read the rest of this entry »

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Our camp at Watts Lake. Photo: Gregory McDonald

Our fourth day on the California Backcountry Discovery Trail, found us waking at Watt’s Lake. Our goal for the day was to zig-zag east to Ruth Lake. Unlike Watts Lake, Ruth Lake was bigger than a swimming pool and actually had water in it. From what we’d heard, it was quite nice.

To get there we took 1S07 and 1S11 past the Lassics Botanical Area. One of the mountains looked like a little volcano but our Forest Service stated that this wasn’t the case.

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Photo: Gregory McDonald Read the rest of this entry »

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Here’s a quick little video from our third day on the California Backcountry Discovery Trail as we were heading over to Watt’s Lake.

On second day on the CBDT Natalie, Greg and I stumble across a hang glider port and a dog with a skin condition.


Photo: Gregory McDonald

Our goal for the third day of our trip was to reach the intersecting forks of the Van Deusen River, in the Six Rivers National Forest, southwest of Ruth Lake. I figured we might find a good campsite there. So, at about 10:30am, we broke camp and left our site at 22N63 behind. Read the rest of this entry »

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After yesterday’s gorgeous video, here’s our humble offering: some footage from our CBDT trip. We stopped at Lake Pillsbury to check out the local herd. Greg and I provided commentary and Natalie was behind the camera!


Photo: Gregory McDonald

Shortly after getting on the road for our second day on the California Backcountry Discovery Trail, a tiny CRV carrying a long, thin, rip-stop-nylon-clad load on its roof, came clamoring up the rocky trail behind us. In front of us a Toyota Tacoma made its way up the mountain, similarly equipped. We were way out in the forest in traffic.

Soon we figured out what all of the congestion was about. Besides the opening of deer season, people were heading up to Hull Mountain for a hang glider “fly in.” Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Gregory McDonald

I first spotted the California Backcountry Discovery Trail a couple of years ago as a yellow highlighted route on my Mendocino National Forest map. The idea for the CBDT started in the 1960s when 4-wheel-drive enthusiasts had the dream of creating a jeep trail that would traverse the length of the state from Mexico to Oregon.

Today over 600 miles of trails are designated as part of that system. Try to find information on it though and you won’t come up with much. I called the Ranger’s Station in Upper Lake and they faxed me some mid-90s-era brochures. They listed “Discovery Points” along the route, mostly things like campsites, trail heads, and, interestingly, a hang glider port.

Wanting to see what this grand 4×4 trail system was all about, we planned a week-long trip up the CBDT starting at the southern end of the Mendocino National Forest and snaking through the Six Rivers National Forest. Our 235-mile route would end on a 35-mile-long, 5,000-foot-high ridge called Southfork Mountain. We would traverse some of the least visited wilderness in the state, an area more known for its bigfoot sightings than anything else.

This past September Natalie, Greg, and I set off to see what the CBDT had to offer.

Update: I posted a map at the bottom of the post. Read the rest of this entry »


I went on a nice little solo trip up to the Sierra Nevada this past summer, found some great back country camp sites, and thought I’d share them with you. Keep these in mind for next summer when the snow clears.

See the map at the end of the post for exact locations. Read the rest of this entry »