Description - Six Rivers National Forest lies east of Redwood State and National Parks in northwestern California, and stretches southward from the Oregon border for about 140 miles. It encompasses 957,590 National Forest acres and 133,410 acres of other ownership. Smith River National Recreation Area and Orleans, Lower Trinity, and Mad River Ranger Districts make up the Forest. The Forest lies in Del Norte County (43%), Humboldt County (35%), Trinity County (21%), and Siskiyou County (1%). It forms a long, narrow land section, stretching from the Oregon border on the north to Mendocino County on the south.
- The Six Rivers National Forest offers a great diversity of things to do and see. The change in terrain is dramatic; from the colossal redwood trees and the cool, marine influence in the northwest, to the moist, mixed conifers and deciduous trees lining deep cut river canyons in the north, to the dry, mixed conifers, glades and open meadows of the south.
The six rivers for which the forest is named - the Smith, Klamath, Eel, Trinity, Van Duzen and Mad Rivers - offer exciting water recreation. The Forest contains 366 miles of designated Wild, Scenic or Recreational Rivers - 35 percent of California's Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Eel, Smith, Trinity and Klamath are designated as Wild and Scenic.
The 305,000 acre Smith River National Recreation Area highlights the Smith River - the last major undammed and undiverted river in California and one of the largest Wild and Scenic River Systems in the United States. The Smith River is renowned for its clear, emerald green waters and trophy size steelhead. High winter flows offer challenge to rafters and kayakers while warm temperatures and low flows in the summer provide opportunities for swimmers and inner tubers. You can tour 27 miles of the Smith River National Scenic Byway, drive 350 miles of backcountry roads, hike or horseback ride over 65 miles of trails backpack in the rugged high country of the Siskiyou Wilderness or investigate the unique botanical areas. The Myrtle Creek Trail is a self-guided interpretive trail. The Camp Six Lookout, which used to serve as a fire lookout tower, offers spectacular views from the Pacific Ocean to the Oregon mountains and over the Smith River drainage.
In addition to the Smith River Scenic Byway, the Trinity River Scenic Byway also offers outstanding samples of the beauty of the area. It travels 150 miles from the Sacramento Valley to the Redwood Coast along Highway 299. The byway winds along the Trinity River gorge, skirts the Trinity Alps and descends into the moist coastal redwood forests. Forest Route 1 travels along the ridge of South Fork Mountain, offering views of the Trinity Alps to the east and glimpses of the Pacific Ocean to the west.
The Six Rivers includes portions of four designated Wilderness Areas. The Siskiyou offers diverse flora and fauna, steep forested ridges and peaks, mountain meadows and lakes, and the Wild and Scenic Smith River. The North Fork Wilderness encompasses a steep and rugged area which highlights the Wild and Scenic North Fork of the Eel River. The Trinity Alps Wilderness features several summits and National Recreation Trails. It offers spectacular views of the Marble Mountain Wilderness and the Trinity Alps. The Yolla Bolly Wilderness is bordered on the north by Hayden Roughs and Jones Ridge, then drops steeply into arid, rugged ridges to the south.
Recreation - Whatever your favorite river recreation activity - sunbathing, swimming, fishing for trout or salmon, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, or snorkeling - you'll find it somewhere along the many waterways of the Forest. Local outfitters and guides offer a variety of guided river and fishing trips.
The waterways of the Six Rivers National Forest are renown for world-class fishing. The Eel River has the largest spring run of steelhead in California. Fishing for coho and Chinook is also popular. The Klamath is known as one of the finest steelhead rivers in the nation. It is a popular river for trout, steelhead, coho and Chinook, with plenty of access sites. The Trinity is popular for trout, salmon, steelhead and in the lower reaches, white sturgeon. The Van Duzen, which is popular for steelhead, silver and Chinook salmon, has a high proportion of private land ownership. The Smith River is renowned for trophy-size salmon and steelhead. The Mad River is renowned for its world class steelhead runs.
The Six Rivers has 19 established campgrounds, located throughout the Forest. If you prefer more solitude or want to explore the backcountry, most of the Forest is open for free dispersed camping. A campfire permit is required for all fires, gas lanterns, barbecues and camp stoves used outside developed campgrounds. The permit is free and is available at any forest office.
Whether you like to day-hike, backpack, or horseback ride, the Six Rivers has over 200 miles of trails to explore. The Horse Ridge and Salmon Summit National Recreation Trails and South Kelsey National Historic Trail offer individual attractions. Several good day-hikes include the South Kelsey and the Summit Valley Trails in the Siskiyou Wilderness, and the Salmon Mountain Trail in the Trinity Alps Wilderness.
The Six Rivers offers many areas for four-wheel drives, trail bikes and ATVs. The Smith River National Recreation Area and Mad River Ranger District are two sections of the Forest with many miles of roads and trails.
For hunting, the Six Rivers has one of the highest deer-hunter success rates in the state. Deer, quail, grouse, pigeons and squirrels are all plentiful and available to hunt in the designated season.
Climate - Summers are generally mild. Fog is often encountered near the coastline, with sunny, warmer weather more common inland in the foothills. Winters are generally cool with considerable precipitation. Wear layers of clothing to accommodate cool to warm temperatures and good walking shoes. Rain protection should be included at any time of year.
The Six Rivers National Forest lies in northwest California, reaching south from the Oregon border in a long and narrow 140-mile band. The Forest lies near the towns of Orleans, Willow Creek, Eureka and Bridgerville, with Forest Service offices in each of these towns.