Description - The Eldorado National Forest is located in the central Sierra Nevada. Portions of Alpine, Amador, El Dorado, and Placer counties lie within the Forest boundary. The Forest is bordered on the north by the Tahoe National Forest, on the east by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, on the southeast by the Humboldt-Toiyabe, and to the south by the Stanislaus National Forest.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Caples Lake, Kirkwood, California, Eldorado National Forest
The Forest ranges in elevation from 1,000 feet in the foothills to more than 10,000 feet above sea level along the Sierra crest. The mountainous topography is broken by the steep canyons of the Mokelumne, Cosumnes, American, and Rubicon rivers. Plateaus of generally moderate relief are located between these steep canyons. The principle vegetative types found on the Forest are woodland, chaparral, mixed conifer, true fir, and subalpine.
The Eldorado National Forest is divided into four Ranger Districts: Amador, Georgetown, Pacific and Placerville. Also associated with the Forest is the Placerville Nursery, Institute of Forest Genetics, as well as the Eldorado National Forest Information Center in Camino.
- Year-round recreation opportunities make this relatively small National Forest one of California's favorites.
More than 600 miles of fishing streams lace the Forest. Water is the Eldorado's most important product and hydroelectric projects have created many lakes for your enjoyment. Portions of the Pacific Crest, Emigrant Summit and Pony Express National Recreation Trails lead through the Forest. The Eldorado's Scenic Byway is located on Highway 88 between Peddler Hill and Hope Valley. Total traveling distance is 58 miles.
There are approximately 123,631 acres of designated wilderness on the Eldorado, in the Desolation and Mokelumne Wildernesses. In the Mokelumne Wilderness there are over 100 miles of hiking trails which will take you from deep canyons to 10,000 ft. mountain peaks. Three National Forests share the 105,165 acres of wilderness available to you for either day-hiking or overnight backpacking. Permits are required for overnight use. Because of its beauty and accessibility, Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily-used wilderness areas in the United States. Permits are required for either day or overnight use on the Desolation Wilderness. Use on both wildernesses is open to hikers, horses, and llamas.
Numerous prehistoric archaeological sites provide insights into early Native American use of the Forest. Three National Historic Trails: the Mormon-Carson Emigrant Trail, the Pony Express Trail and the Johnson Cutoff Trail are part of the Forest's Gold Rush era history.
Recreation - Popular outdoor recreation activities on the Eldorado include camping, boating, hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, sightseeing, cross- country skiing, downhill skiing, and recreation vehicle use.
Climate - A Mediterranean type climate extends over most of the Forest with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snowpack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread.
Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
The Eldorado is located in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. It extends from the foothills into the rugged Sierra Nevada high country southwest of Lake Tahoe. Highway 50 and Highway 88 provide trans-Sierra access through the Forest. The Forest is headquartered in Placerville. The Sacramento area is about a 1 1/2 hour drive and the San Francisco Bay area is within 3-4 hours from the Forest.