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Mad River Ranger District

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General Information

Description - The Mad River Ranger District is located on Highway 36 approximately 50 miles east of Highway 101 and the Eureka / Arcata area and 100 miles west of Interstate 5 and the cities of Redding and Red Bluff. Traveling south for 20-30 miles on county roads brings you to the communities of Ruth and Zenia.

The District covers approximately 220,000 acres of which 87% falls in Trinity County and 13% in Humboldt County. The Mad River Ranger Station is at an elevation of 2,550 feet. The remainder of the district varies from 2,000 to 6,000 feet.

Attractions - The Mad River Ranger District has many different recreational opportunities, and is particularly noted for it's excellent dispersed camping, off-highway vehicle opportunities, and excellent hunting.

There are three campgrounds and over 40 dispersed camping sites in the Mad River Ranger District. The Van Duzen and Mad River's provide excellent fishing opportunities. Ruth Lake, a reservoir developed in 1962 on the Mad River, provides 1,200 acres of surface for boating, skiing, swimming, fishing and other water-related sports.

Developed campgrounds are equipped with vault or flush toilets, fire rings and / or stoves, tables, parking for two vehicles, and drinking water (unless otherwise noted). Electrical hookups are not provided.

Group camping at Fir Cove requires reservations and $10.00 non-refundable fee (see Contact Information for phone number). All other sites and campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is a 14-day limit for occupying a campground, and pets on leashes are permitted. Bailey Canyon Campground is handicapped accessible.

Fishing opportunities abound. The Eel River makes it's 100 mile long stretch through some of the most pristine redwood groves in the state. The mouth of the mighty river opens up 15 miles south of Eureka after weaving its path through both Mendocino and Humboldt counties. It is amazing to think that at the turn of the century, the King Salmon was over a half million strong in this river. Though the present numbers are only a fraction of their former glory, one can still enjoy salmon, some rainbow trout fishing and the largest steelhead run in California.

Ruth Lake is a seven-mile long reservoir located in the southern portion of Trinity County. The lake was formed by the damming of the Mad River in 1962, and has served as both a functional supplier of water to Humboldt County and a recreational area for fisherman, boaters, water skiers and swimmers alike. The lake lies in calm, beautiful surroundings of hills covered by ponderosa pine and white fir. The lake sits at an elevation of 2,654 feet, which affords cool winters, warm summers, and amazing springs and falls. Lake populations include rainbow trout, Kokanee salmon, large and smallmouth bass, catfish, black crappie, bluegill, and brown bullhead.

The Van Duzan River is a major tributary of the Eel River. The river makes a 60-mile long journey through beautiful Trinity and Humboldt counties. Along the river, you will find everything from pine, fir and oak to mighty redwood stands. Great salmon and steelhead fishing exist on this river. The most popular fishing spots lie between the Bridgeville and the mouth of the river, outside of Six Rivers National Forest boundaries.

There are a variety of trails in the Mad River District that are sure to appeal to everyone. One very popular trail is the Discovery Trail, which is primarily open to street legal vehicles and makes for a great weekend activity.

Six Rivers National Forest is home to many beautiful botanical areas. These areas are protected contain rare and endangered plants and flowers. Please respect these areas during your visit.

Recreation - Recreational activities found on the Mad River Ranger District include camping, hiking, viewing nature, fishing, and swimming.

Climate - The climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Average precipitation in the area is 60" with the majority of the moisture falling between October and April. Snow is uncommon at elevations under 3000' but many areas on the district receive substantial snowfall.

Location - The Mad River Ranger District is located on Highway 36 approximately 50 miles east of Highway 101 and the Eureka Arcata area and 100 miles west of Interstate 5 and the cities of Redding and Red Bluff. Traveling south for 20-30 miles on county roads brings you to the communities of Ruth and Zenia.

Ranger Station: 25 miles east of Bridgeville, Highway 36.
Bailey Canyon: 13 miles southeast of Mad River off State Route 36 on Lower Mad River Road.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Mad River Ranger District, Star Route, Box 300 , Bridgeville, CA, 95526

Additional Information:
Six Rivers National Forest - The Six Rivers National Forest lies in northwest California, reaching south from the Oregon border. Stands of colossal redwood trees and 366 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers are only some of the attractions here.


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