Trails for Everyone
Jackson State Forest offers a number of trails popular with hikers, runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The Chamberlain Creek Waterfall Trail, located 17 miles east on Highway 20 near Willits (near Camp 20), is one of the most accessible. After following another unpaved road (Road 200) into the forest for 5.5 miles, visitors are rewarded with a short hike to a 50-foot waterfall and a grove of virgin redwoods that were spared the timber companies’ sawblades.
Those looking for a more intense or rugged experience, whether it be on mountain bike or horseback, would enjoy the Brandon Gulch to Volcano Point trail, an 8-mile loop that crosses Riley Ridge, the highest point in the forest at approximately 1,000 feet. There is a camp here with a picnic table, an outhouse, a firepit and benches.
There are also three well-maintained demonstration trails designed to educate hikers about forestry management and ecology, such as the Forest History Trail, which has sections dedicated to early logging methods, Native Americans and reseeding.
A Magnificent Drive Through Mendocino
Jackson State Forest is still a worthy destination for those who’d rather not venture down dirt roads. Beginning just south of Fort Bragg, Highway 20 bisects the forest for thirty miles, all the way to Willits. The serpentine drive features one tight curve after another winding through steep hills blanketed in undulating stands of redwoods, Douglas fir and hemlock. If you need to travel from one side of Mendocino County to the other, this is a scenic way to do it – but aren’t they all?