Description - Located north of Upper Lake, the Ranger District oversees of 249,064 acres in the southwestern region of Mendocino National Forest. The District's highest point is Snow Mountain West (7,038 feet) in the Snow Mountain Wilderness. The lowest elevation on the District is 1,480 feet, where Elk Creek leaves the Forest.
All of the Ranger Districts have a wide variety of wildflowers that bloom at various times through spring and summer: California poppy, penstemon, shooting stars, wild iris, milkweed, Indian paintbrush, buttercups, dogwood, wild lilac, and many varieties of lupine. Vegetation types include mixed conifer forests, oak woodlands and savannah, chaparral, annual and perennial grass glades, and wet meadows.
The Districts also share many species of wildlife in common, including black-tailed deer, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, skunk, badger, gray squirrel, ground squirrel, rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, lizards, toads, pacific tree frog, quail, wild turkey, blue grouse, golden eagle, spotted owl, goshawk, prairie falcon, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, turkey buzzard, scrub jays, and a variety of migratory birds and woodpeckers. Upper Lake Ranger District has a small population of tule elk. Salmon and steelhead spawn in streams of the Covelo and Upper Lake Ranger Districts, and rainbow trout, western pond turtle, and yellow-legged frog live in and around many of the streams of each of the three Districts.
The waters of the Mendocino flow to the Pacific Ocean, westward through the Eel River system, and eastward through the Sacramento River system and San Francisco Bay.
- The major attractions to Upper Lake Ranger District are Lake Pillsbury and Snow Mountain Wilderness. There are 9 developed campground, 1 group site, 2 designated picnic areas, and 5 promoted hiking trails. There are several undeveloped campgrounds and other activities to enjoy.
Lake Pillsbury, the only sizable lake on the Mendocino, is a popular attraction for camping and fishing. Lake populations include rainbow trout, largemouth bass and sunfish. The California Department of Fish and Game plants the lake with catchable trout each year. Largemouth bass and sunfish are self-sustaining.
Lake Pillsbury campsites are designated for up to 2 cars each and a maximum of 5 people. Additional vehicles are charged a small fee. Sites are first-come, first-served; vault toilets provided. There is a no charge overflow site at Oak Flat.
Boaters will find paved, no-fee boat launches providing access to the 2,280 acre Lake Pillsbury. There are no motor restrictions on Pillsbury. The dependable afternoon winds make sailing and sail boarding very popular. The lake level lowers after Labor Day.
Snow Mountain Wilderness is shared by Grindstone and Upper Lake Districts. Snow Mountain is the southernmost peak in the North Coast Range. The diversity of wildlife is great: 122 species including deer, bear, mountain lion, eagle, and hawk call the Wilderness home. There are about 52 miles of trails suitable for horseback riding, hiking, and backpacking.
Bloody Rock offers an interpretive site as well as a great hike to view scenery. Travel times to the major trailheads range from three to six hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, including one to two hours on dirt roads.
Both Grindstone and Upper Lake Ranger Districts manage a system of off-highway vehicle trails that are recognized by users and environmentalists as a model for quality, environmentally sound OHV recreation.
Note: Please be careful with fire. Watch for ticks, poison oak, yellow jackets, hornets, scorpions and snakes.
Recreation - Upper Lake Ranger District has a multitude of activities to participate in. Camping, hiking, biking, backpacking, horseback riding, and picnicking are just a few of the activities available in this region of the forest.
Climate - The climate on the Mendocino is greatly influenced by elevation. As throughout California, most of the precipitation comes between November and April. This comes in the form of rain at the lower elevations and some wet, heavy snow in the higher elevations. April through October are normally dry, with warm to hot temperatures at the low elevations and moderate temperatures in the higher elevations.
Upper Lake Ranger District is the southwestern region of the Mendocino National Forest located north of the town of Upper Lake.