Rees Hughes shares some of his favorite hikes from his book, Hiking Humboldt Volume 2. This was recorded in a ZOOM Webinar during sheltering in place for COVID-19.Continue Reading
Prairie Creek Redwoods National and State Parks
This area of California contains some of the largest redwoods on Earth and holds extensive old-growth forests, protected as a national park in 1968. This particular walk, using the Zig Zag Trails and Prairie Creek Trail, is entirely in old growth. It offers an enigmatic temporal departure into a rare forest type. In addition to redwoods, other conifer specimens like Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce are coupled with clandestine western redcedar and Port-Orford cedar—be sure to look carefully and learn your conifers well. Watch for grand firs that occur infrequently along the road, particularly at the south end of Elk Prairie.Continue Reading
Updated Hiking Maps
The book’s trail guide showcases the geologic history of the Lassen country. We have selected hikes that provide examples of the Lassen Volcanic Center and regional geology. USGS 1:24,000 scale maps show the trails and parking locations. The guide is illustrated but watch for references to figures and tables in previous chapters. Also, important background information about the geology in each hiking guide is discussed.Continue Reading
Chris Valle-Riestra is an exceptional volunteer and trail steward–with a particular fondness for the Klamath Mountains. He has been spearheading trailwork in the Orleans Ranger District for many years and knows the trails well .
He has updated conditions of trails on the forest for fall 2019. Click through to the hiking descriptions and read his comments.Continue Reading
Prairie Creek Redwoods National and State Parks
The most extensive accessible trail system in Humboldt County is in the Elk Prairie/Big Tree areas of Prairie Creek Redwood State Park and Redwood National Park. This trail system offers many ways to mix and match the trails that network this area. Included in the route are magnificent old growth redwoods, picturesque Prairie Creek, the open grasslands of Elk Prairie, a nature trail, and miles of accessible trail.
Geology of the Lassen Country
The Bumpass Hell Trail is one of the most popular destinations in the Lassen Country. The trailhead is at the large parking area 0.25 mile (0.4 km) east of Lake Helen. The trail traverses the dacite of Bumpass Mountain for the majority of the hike. Also, note the well-preserved glacial polish and striae in the dacite alongside the first few hundred yards of the trail. They were created by the glacier that started from the Lake Helen cirque. At the viewpoint where the trail turns east, about 0.5 mile (0.8 km) from the trailhead, it crosses briefly into andesite of Mount Diller. Here a National Park Service trailside interpretive display shows a model of Brokeoff Volcano before erosion.
Trailhead: Bumpass Hell trailhead parking lot
Distance: 3.0 miles (4.8 km) round trip
Key Geologic Features: Hot springs, clay-altered bedrock
In the massive flood of 1964, the once bustling community of Pepperwood was inundated by 30 feet of water. What remains on this floodplain of the Eel River are a few homes and farms, some vegetable stands, and a robust redwood forest. The Drury-Chaney Groves trail bisects the flat alluvial bench populated with redwoods that lie between the Avenue of the Giants and US 101. It is a flat walk and an accessible trail through several extensive groves of towering redwoods.
It was Berkeley paleontologist Ralph Chaney who first brought back ‘dawn redwood’ seedlings with him from China in the late 1940s. This deciduous sequoia joins the coast redwood and the giant sequoia as the three conifers known as redwoods.
Getting there: Drive south on US 101 for 32.5 miles taking Exit 674 (Avenue of the Giants/Pepperwood). Turn left onto the Avenue of the Giants for 2.7 miles. The road passes through what remains of the community of Pepperwood taking a bend to the south, quickly reaching the parking area for the Drury-Chaney Groves trailhead. Parking is available on both sides of the Avenue of the Giants. Approximate driving time, 40 minutes.
The route: From the parking area, the trail crosses a small open space and enters the redwood forest for the remainder of the walk. The level trail crosses the old Barkdull Road (0.6) — a right turn here will take you to another access point from the Avenue of the Giants in half a mile; a left turn leads to the general location of the old Barkdull Ranch (0.1). After crossing the Barkdull Road, the trail reaches the loop trail (0.7). The loop is 0.9 mile long (1.6). The return to the parking area necessitates retracing your steps (2.4).
Extras. Once located between Pepperwood and Stafford, the town of Elinor had a railroad stop, hotel, post office, and logging camp on the east side of the Eel River and a collection of homes, store, and school on the west side. A ferry plied the river connecting the two sides of the town. However, when the 1964 floodwaters receded there was little of Elinor left. Just after you turn left onto the Avenue of the Giants from Exit 674, turn left again on Elinor Road and drive 150 yards to the concrete barriers that block old US 101. You can follow the old road for a short distance to the bridge (dated 1938) crossing Jordan Creek. During periods of low water, it is possible to wander east to the Eel River.
Hiking Humboldt and Del Norte counties in the winter
Astounding diversity of terrestrial cryptogams exists in the Klamath Mountains—represented by mosses, liverworts, lichen, ferns, and forest mushrooms. In northwestern North America, thousands of species of fungi are complimented by 900 mosses, 1500 lichens, 250 liverworts, and 100 ferns. Winter hiking offers a winder into the life of cryptogams. This is the time of year, after the first rains, that they spring into green. Moisture plays a key role in cryptogams reproduction.
This is the time of year to revel in the cryptogams because this diverse group needs water because they reproduce with spores.
Interested in more? Check out the Conifer Country blog.
Thanks to Cliff and KHUM for capturing this discussion on Happy Trails.
Other great winter trails
Chris Valle-Riestra is an exceptional volunteer and trail steward–with a particular fondness for the Klamath Mountains. He has been spearheading trailwork in the Orleans Ranger District for many years and knows the trails well . He has updated conditions of trails on the forest for summer 2018.
The Orleans Ranger District has administrative responsibility for recreational trails in three designated ranger districts. These include portions of the Marble Mountain Wilderness, the Trinity Alps Wilderness, and the Siskiyou Wilderness.
Chris’ Trail Updates:
Quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides) in the Blackrock-High Rock Desert.
Fall in the West
A time of rejuvenation. With the shift of the California Current, rains begin to fall in California after a summer of drought. The high country along the Pacific Slope finds snow returning. While we retreat inside our homes, native plants and animals must adjust to the changes. Some birds migrate, mammals might hibernate, and some plants shed their leaves and “hibernate” for winter in their own way.
What follows is a journey across the Pacific Slope to four locations that are excellent for viewing fall color.
- Siskiyou Wilderness
- Pasayten Wilderness
- San Gabriel River National Monument
- Blackrock-High Rock Desert National Conservation Area
I’ll start by admitting that my son’s middle name is Siskiyou. This wilderness was my first destination upon moving to Humboldt County and I’ve been back many times since–and learned something new each trip. The wilderness represents the mystery and intrigue of Conifer Country and holds within its boundaries at least 16 species of conifers – making it second to the Russian Wilderness in diversity within the Klamath Mountains. A few other regional highlights include the success story of the GO Road, the epic Bigfoot Trail along the crest, and a stay at Bear Basin Butte on the edge of the wilderness. Once you visit, you will never forget this place.
- Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
- Vine maple (Acer circinatum)
- Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
- Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata)
- Dwarf huckleberry (Vaccinium caespitosum var. caespitosum)
- Cascade bilberry (Vaccinium deliciosum)
- Blue or thin-leaved huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum)
The alpine tundra of the Pasayten Wilderness is characterized by small hummocks decorated with diminutive heaths and grasses with the much taller conifers surviving on only the fringes of this landscape. Subalpine larch (Larix lyallii) has a range restricted to the North Cascades and Northern Rockies where they are locally common on exposed rocky areas as well as pioneers on disturbed sites and more recently in snowfields.
- Alpine Bearberry (Arctous alpinus)
- Creeping dogwood (Cornus canadensis)
- Subalpine larch (Larix lyallii)
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
The 346,177 acre San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was dedicated in October 2014 by a proclamation by President Obama after nearly 10 years of work to get it established. It contains the Sheep Mountain Wilderness, the San Gabriel Wilderness, and Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness as well as most of the major peaks including Mount San Antonio, Mount Baden-Powell, and Throop Peak.
- Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
- Black oak (Quercus kelloggii)
Blackrock Desert-High Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Want to visit a newly-designated wilderness area in the llitteral middle-of-nowhere? Then the Pine Forest Range is the place for you. Nearby is Nevada’s Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area with loads of places to adventure. There are only a few plants that grow to any noticeable height, including rare conifers and the iconic quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) which offers epic fall color.
- Quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides)