Mendocino National Forest

Quick Facts

Mendocino National Forest


(916) 934-3316

Map Directions

Things To Do


The only one of California's 18 national forests not crossed by a paved road or highway, the Mendocino National Forest is especially attractive to people seeking an outdoor experience of tranquility and solitude. The National Forest straddles the eastern spur of the Coastal Mountain Range in northwestern California, just a three hour drive north of San Francisco and Sacramento.

The Mendocino is divided into three ranger districts: Covelo, Grindstone, and Upper Lake and also manages two units that are located outside the Forest boundaries: the Genetic Resource and Conservation Center and the Red Bluff Recreation Area. The Mendocino partly or wholly manages four wilderness areas: 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.

Some 65 miles long and 35 miles across, the Forest's 913,306 federally-owned acres of mountains and canyons offer a variety of recreational opportunities - camping, hiking, backpacking, boating, fishing, hunting, nature study, photography, and off-highway vehicle travel.

Map of Mendocino Nat'l Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 39.935784, -123.129490



  • Boating

    Motorized and non-motorized boating is a popular activity the Mendocino offers.

  • Bicycling

    Many opportunities are available.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Touring is a popular activity.

  • Camping

    All campgrounds on the Mendocino National Forest are first come, first served with the exception of group camps. You will find a variety of settings at different elevations to satisfy all out outdoor recreational plans. All campgrounds provide campers with a table, a fire ring or camp stove, and restrooms. Not all locations have drinking water. There are no hook-ups or showers. Depending on the weather, most campgrounds open mid to late May and stay open until the water systems are shut down for the winter in October. Most campgrounds close in winter and provide no garbage, water, or restroom service.

    The Mendocino National Forest also offers the Pine Mountain Lookout as a summer rental, providing an opportunity for a very rustic getaway.

    Camping on the Mendocino is not limited to developed campgrounds. Most of the forest is open to those who prefer the quiet and solitude of a completely undeveloped setting. This type of camping is called Dispersed Camping.

  • Climbing

    Climbing is a very popular activity.

  • Fishing

    The Mendocino National Forest supports an extensive resident trout fishery as well as anadromous and warm-water fisheries. Rainbow trout are found in over 300 miles of streams and 2,000 acres of lakes and ponds. The Eel River below Lake Pillsbury and the Middle Fork of the Eel from where it joins the Eel upstream to Bar Creek are known for their steelhead fishing. Please note that because of low steelhead runs, the Middle Fork Eel River is currently closed to fishing from the confluence of Bar Creek upstream to the confluence of the North Fork of the Middle Eel River. Letts Lake, Plaskett Lakes, and Lake Pillsbury are popular bass and trout fishing areas.

  • Hiking

    Popular hikes include more relaxed day hikes, and backpacking through rugged canyons and forest landscapes. There are hundreds of miles to hike in Mendocino.

  • Historic Sites

    Outdoor learning opportunities at interpretive areas and visitor centers are available throughout the forest.

  • Horseback Riding

    Traveling by horse can add a great deal of pleasure to your trip through the Mendocino National Forest. Most trails are suitable for both horse and foot travel, although early in the season there may be downfall and wet areas on some trails. Keeping horses in Forest campgrounds and picnic grounds is prohibited.

  • Hunting

    With the exception of the State Game Refuge, which straddles the boundary line of the Stonyford and Upper Lake Districts in the southern part of the Forest, all public land in the Mendocino is open to hunting.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    The Forest Service in cooperation with the State of California Off-Highway Vehicle Fund, (Green Sticker), has developed roads, trails, and facilities for further enjoyment of the OHV user. Remember, these are your facilities and OHV funds are being used to develop and maintain them. Forest Service roads open to Off-Highway Vehicles are considered public roads. All motorcycle riders on public lands in the State of California must wear a safety helmet meeting the standards adopted by the US Department of Transportation. State law requires all vehicles, including motorcycles to be registered. You must have a current Green or Red Sticker, or Highway License. Highway licensed vehicles must meet all standards for operating on a public highway and be operated in accordance with California state law. Your vehicle must be equipped with a properly installed Forest Service approved spark arrester in good working condition. For your safety and the safety of others, Off-Highway Vehicles must never be operated in a manner likely to endanger any person or property. Driving at excessive speeds, careless and reckless driving, racing and "wheelies" are not only prohibited, but also dangerous on forest roads and camping areas.

  • Picnicking

    Some campgrounds permit picnicking in campsites at no charge. Please read the information posted at the campground entrance to avoid picnicking in prohibited areas.

  • Water Sports

    he cool, clean lakes, rivers and streams of the Mendocino National Forest can be a welcome relief from the heat and sun of the California summer. Popular activities are boating,both motorized and non-motorized, and swimming.

  • Winter Sports

    Many activities are available.


Many facilities such as campgrounds are only open seasonally. Check with the Forest Service about seasonality.



The Mendocino National Forest straddles the eastern spur of the Coastal Mountain Range in northwestern California, just a three hour drive north of San Francisco and Sacramento.


Three hours north of San Francisco and Sacramento.

Phone Numbers


(916) 934-3316