Best Hikes in Mendocino National Forest (CA)


Mendocino National Forest is located in the Coastal Mountain Range of northern California, just northwest of Sacramento. Very secluded, it is the only one of California’s 18 national Forests not crossed by a paved road or highway. Elevations in the Forest range from 750 feet in the Grindstone Creek Canyon in the Sacramento Valley foothills on the Forest’s eastern edge to the 8,092 feet of South Yolla Bolly Mountain in the northern part of the Forest. 

The Mendocino National Forest is divided into three Ranger Districts: Covelo, Grindstone, and Upper Lake. There are two units managed by the Forest which are not located within the Forest proper, the Chico Seed Orchard and Lake Red Bluff Recreation Area. Four Wilderness areas which are partly or wholly managed by the Mendocino National Forest are the 37,679-acre Snow Mountain Wilderness, the 147,070-acre Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, the 53,887 acre Yuki Wilderness, and the 10,571 acre Sanhedrin Wilderness.

Most of the Mendocino National Forest’s hikes are backcountry and require some planning in getting to and stay on the trail. The best day hike in the forest is described below. Official Website.

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Nearest Metro AreaSacramento, CA
Area Size913,306 acres
EstablishedJuly 1, 1908
Hiking Trails100+ miles

Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Mendocino National Forest

  • Summit Springs Trail to Snow Mountain – 9.5 miles out and back
    • Moderate hike to the top of the secluded Snow Mountain; the east peak sits at 7,056′. From here, hikers have incredible panoramic views. On a clear day, to the south, one is able to discern Mt. St. Helena and Mt. Diablo. Lassen Peak can be seen to the northeast, while Mt. Shasta can be seen nearly 140 miles to the north. Getting to the trailhead requires a 30 mile drive on one-way paved and gravel roads.

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