Archives for category: —- Mendocino National Forest
Snow Mountain Wilderness • WCXC
Photo: Gregory MacDonald

A couple of weeks ago my friend Greg, from gadmachine, and I went on a quick trip up to the Mendocino National Forest, south of the Snow Mountain Wilderness. While there, we made some seriously good camp fires. We also set up an interesting camp, that I thought I’d share with you.

We set up two 10′ x 20′ tarps in a roughly A-frame shape. The open ends were parallel with the small valley we were in, so that the breeze could flow through. The top was open so that smoke from the fire could easily escape.  We put the tents in the eaves of the tarps so they were protected from rain. The main thing though was that the tarps reflected the heat of the fire and kept any breezes from blowing in behind us. This made for a comfortable, warm camp even with the temperature around 26˚F (-3˚C).

There was hardly any snow. There’s been precipitation since, so call the ranger’s station if you’re planning to head up there. The campsite, which Greg had scouted years earlier, was a very nice one: flat ground with trees in a nice little valley.

An image gallery and a map with our campsite near Bear Creek pinpointed, can be found after the jump.

Related Links:
Fire Skills: The Elevated Long Fire

Four Essential Campfire Tools for About $30

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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 »


Photo: Greg MacDonald

A few weeks ago my friend Greg and I headed up to the Mendocino National Forest for a couple of nights of camping, off-roading, and target shooting in Deer Valley and French Ridge. We, well I, saw a fat rattlesnake crossing the road and then Greg managed to startle me pretty well with Hubert, the rubber rattlesnake that lives in his truck. He left it under some bags and when I went to throw away a beer can, I almost jumped out of my boots.

Heading out on Sunday, we explored one more trail and ended up at the High Glade fire lookout. Annelle, the friendly ranger on duty there, was kind enough to invite us up for a visit. It was really interesting to see how the lookout station worked and, of course, the views were amazing. Check out the gallery. Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Gregory McDonald

A few weeks ago my friend Greg and I headed up to the Mendocino National Forest for a quick mid-week camping trip. Our plan was to drive south on Forest Road M1 from near Covelo, CA to Lake Pillsbury. When we got to the ranger station in Covelo, however, they informed us that the M1 was still closed due to snow. Doh. I guess that’s why it’s good to phone first.

After asking about our options at the Eel River Work Station (the smaller ranger station East of Covelo), we headed northeast up the M1 instead to a defunct camping area called Boardman Ridge. The area is accessed via an unnamed jeep road off the M1 roughly five miles from the aforementioned ranger station. We followed the rutted jeep road about 3 miles to the end of the line (Difficulty 2 out of 10) and then backtracked to spot opposite a meadow and pitched camp for the night. Read the rest of this entry »

Rice Fork, flooded last March, was crossable in November.

If you look closely (or click on this photo) you’ll see my spare gas can lying on this rutted section of Forest Road M3. These were typical road conditions for the first 10 to 15 miles.

Click here for a downloadable .gpx file of this trip for your GPS device.

In mid-November I went to the Mendocino National Forest, north of Clear Lake, solo, to see if I could circumnavigate the Snow Mountain Wilderness. I tried to do it back in March in the Montero but the snow melt-swollen rivers were too deep to cross. This time I brought a dirt bike. I didn’t think I’d be able to cover the estimated 60 or 70 miles in the truck, at least not in a day—10 mph is about average on rough roads. I figured I could easily double that on the bike.

I got up early, was in the woods, and on the bike by noon. Within a few minutes I had crossed Parramore Creek Rice Fork (the one that had held me back in spring) without a problem. OK—I stalled the bike mid-stream and had to dunk a boot in the water to keep from falling over, but basically no problem. From there my wet right foot and I headed north on forest road M3—see map below—and things got a little more serious. At one point, after slamming through a deep puddle in an especially rutted section of road, I stopped and thought, “Should I take a picture of that for the blog?” I decided yes and headed back. There in puddle lay my spare gas can. Sheesh.

After an hour of bouncing two wheels over mangled dirt, I had covered only 11 miles, about as much as I could have covered on four. I doubted whether I’d make it round the whole loop. That morning though, much like a 17th-century captain hoisting the flag of his patron saint, or an Indian taxi driver with dashboard shrine to Ganesh, I had attached a photo of Archangel Michael to my handlebars, well, a photo of a statue anyway. It helped. Despite my fear of heading alone into the wilderness, I felt a certain solidity in the journey and pressed on.

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