Jan 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm #1284718
So my buddy and I are going to head north from San Francisco for two weeks in the beginning of February (dependent on weather) to explore around Northern California. I was hoping I could get some tips, suggestions, ideas of where we should go check out. We were thinking of just kind of road tripping northward and stopping for a few 1-3 night backpacking trips, day hikes or even cool car camping spots. We are obviously gonna hit up the Lost Coast for a few nights, but besides that we aren't sure of where we should go. We like remote, off the beaten path type stuff, or just anything that is worthy of checking out. Besides the coast we would be open to heading inland if its worth it….spots like Lassen NP, Shasta or even things towards the Oregon boarder or even towards the Oregon/ California/ Nevada corner. Fishing is always a plus :-) Any help would be awesome!
What do ya'll think?
DanJan 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm #1830076
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Lassen NP has always been one of my favorite NPs – summer and winter – a huge variety of terrain and the most varied and weird geology outside of Yellowstone. But more so because it is so little visited. Even while car camping and seeing the road-side attractions, if you spend a few days you start to recognize a bunch of people, it's that little visited. Totally unlike Yosemites or Yellowstone or GCNP in that way.
With so little snow, you could do some cold, non-skiing BP trips. Talk with the rangers carefully about routes and check weather forecasts closely. 1-2-3 day trips ought to be fine. I'd be nervous a week out without weather updates because if snow ever does come, it could change a trip instantly.
Get online or the phone and check Lava Beds NM – an even small unit. Crawl around underground – they have 300 caves with a dozen of the larger ones developed for easier access (parking above, stairs to the flattish floors below. In the 105F summer a 40F cave is a wonderous thing. Likewise on a -10F day!
I'd skip Shasta unless you're ready for some big mountain contingencies. I've been up it, done many other 14ers, and done a lot of snow travel / camping (live in Alaska) and I'd be really leary of going to 14,000 in Feburuary. Being only 10,000 feet and with an approach ski/hike on a road, Lassen as a peak is much more accessible – I've skied up it in March from the ski area and back in a not long day. But even without the peak bagging, there's so much more to see around Lassen and Lava Beds than around Shasta, IMO.Jan 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm #1830086
Thanks David…Any specific areas in Lassen or Lava Beds you would recommend checking out?Jan 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm #1830095
Northern California has an endless amount of backpacking opportunities, but in February it can be tough because there will be snow in the high country. So unless you are looking for or prepared for that, most of the Cascades, Northern Sierra, Trinity Alps, and Coast range are going to be off the table. Although Im not sure of snow levels right now so that's worth looking into. Some places to consider for February are the South Fork Trinity River Trail (depending on snow level, but its at a pretty low elevation), the Ishi Wilderness near Lassen, Humboldt Redwoods, you could go out east of Shasta which is more desert like, but not sure on snow there. You could try Castle Crags but that's kind of close to the freeway, still worth your time though. Also Austen Creek Redwoods and Snow Mountain Wilderness.Again it all depends on the snow level and how much of it you want to deal with. Also look out for closed seasonal roads. I hope those suggestions help you out. I lived in Northern CA last year and was always looking out for open trails in the winter. That said we had a very wet year and the snow stuck around forever so I'm not sure how that would compare to this year.Jan 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm #1830105
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
In Lassen – the Bumpass Hell area is the most accessible and varied geothermal area and very much worth a visit. If you up for a long hike/ski Lassen Peak itself is a great trip, depending on weather. There are a ton of trailheads on the road system and I don't have a favorite one. All my dayhikes and my BP trips have been great.
I checked Lassen's website and there's about 11 inches of snow on the park road. So skiing / hiking in snowboots or on snowshoes along the road to Bumpass Hell would be a very doable day hike. Continuing on to the peak would be more ambitious and dependent on your skills, fitness and especially the weather.
I checked and Lava Beds is open all year – they keep the roads plowed. I'd certainly go to the visitor's center and then across the road to the Cave Loop. Any of them are interesting, Catacombs is I think the most challanging because it is mult-level. Valentine and Mushpot are good places to start as they are easier. Captain Jack's Stronghold is striking for its history – essentially the last Indian-US battle site in the country. Depending on the snow cover, I'd consider any of the trails that head off the road system.
-DavidJan 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm #1830202
USA Duane HallParticipant
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
A few of the group I do some bp trips with are car camping by the new chalet/visitor center this weekend. According to Estela who invited us, there is around 5' of snow there now, so any activity will involve snowshoes. You wanted out of the way places, so not much I can help with, not sure how far you want to go and snow will hamper activities somewhat. Above Chico is the Ishi Wilderness, won't see many there, but watch for Poison Oak and ticks as deer are numerous there. That area north of Clear Lake should be accessible. I've been doing some short bp trips right from my yard into the Plumas NF, a five minute walk away. I have to pack water for now as not enough snow has fallen to melt for water. I usually hike an hour or so from home to a quiet area.
DuaneJan 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm #1830222
If we are trying to avoid snow, what about coastal area…like around Humboldt, or along the eel river? Klamath river? or maybe Paticks Point?Jan 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm #1830732
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Lassen Road is usually closed most of the winter–as is the trail to Bumpass Hell. You might look at the Snow Mountain area, northeast of Clearlake.
Beware the weather in Northern California in February—it can be anything from snowing to warm and sunny.
You'll see some trip reports on our website that are examples of each!Jan 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm #1830766
Thanks for all the great advice everyone! All this is definitely going to be based on weather.
As of now, we are thinking of heading to the Lost Coast, then towards the Eel River and Klamath River then head East towards Burney Falls, Hat Creek and Lava Beds National Monument, and then back down towards the bay area.
The exact details of each location have not been figured out…
What do ya'll think?Jan 28, 2012 at 6:41 am #1830833
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
You'll have a great adventure. You make not backpack as much as you like because of the weather, but you'll see some great country.Jan 28, 2012 at 7:59 am #1830846
What do you want to see along the Lost Coast?Jan 28, 2012 at 10:44 am #1830887
Well Ive hiked the Lost Coast before, but my buddy hasn't So I was thinking we would start at Shelter Cove, and head out from there for a few nights and then just turn around and come back the same way. Nothing in particular that we want to see…just some awesome wilderness! Do you know if there is fishing along the Lost Coast? I know there are streams there and ive seen good size trout in them, just not sure if its legal.
THANKS!Jan 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #1830896
No fishing the streams of the Lost Coast. You can fish the Mattole at the northern end. I myself prefer the northern half to the southern half. Much less beach walking and better camping IMO. Olus everyone seems to enjoy seeing the lighthouse. Beautiful drive then from Mattole up and over the Wildcat along the coast and down into Ferndale. You could camp at Burlington campground and enjoy some of Humboldt Redwood State Park or camp nearer the trailhead at A..W.Way county park 5 miles before the turnoff to the Mattole trailhead. There is a campground at the beach which sucks. Too windy on the back side of the dunes means constant blowing sand. Use to be free, but now they charge more than the county park which is grassy and has trees. It's all my backyard so let me know if I can help.
Oh yeah! It's crab season. I think salmon is about done. But there is always Steelhead.Jan 29, 2012 at 11:51 am #1831266
Thanks for the awesome advice…ya we were gonna go for stealhead..so hope we can find something. We are also gonna try to fish the Eel and the Klamath. I was thinkin about the crab…i am ALL about dungeness, but dont think I can really get any unless I have a crab hoop. I think we will check out the Northern part of the Lost Coast as well
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