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Snow Mountain Wilderness

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General Information

Description - Vegetation in the Snow Mountain Wilderness ranges from chaparral on the low elevation slopes to black oak and mixed conifer at the mid-elevations. In the crest zone, thick stands of true fir, weather-shaped Jeffrey pine and incense cedar exist around natural openings of bare rock and erosion pavement. At the dry lower slopes hikers will find scattered patches of lupine, golden eardrops, coyote mint and India paintbrush. As hikers progress up, they will encounter scattered moist meadows and streams which are accented by scarlet and yellow monkey flowers and other colorful moist-site herbs. As they reach the exposed rocky ridges, wild buckwheat, penstemon, wild onion, purple monkey flowers and pussy paws are more common.

The moderate hike to the top of East Peak affords visitors a magnificent view of the Sacramento Valley and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, Clear Lake to the southwest, Coastal Mountains to the west, and the timbered mountains of the Mendocino National Forest to the north.

The best time to visit Snow Mountain Wilderness is from early spring to late summer. Snow usually lingers on the high crest-zone until late June. Bathhouse, Trout Creek, Deafy Glade and Bear Wallow Trails can offer exhilarating, snow-free winter hikes.

Wilderness permits are not required, but the Forest Service asks that you sign the register at the trailheads. However, campfire permits are necessarily and are available at no charge.

Attractions - In the Snow Mountain Wilderness Area, 52 miles of trails are concentrated in the crest zone above the 6,000 feet elevation. This leaves a vast amount of acreage very remote and highly conducive to cross-country exploration.

The Snow Mountain Wilderness Ranges in elevation from 1,800 feet in the gorge of the Middle Fork of the Stony Creek to 7,056 feet on the summit of East Peak. The deep canyons skirting Snow Mountain compress ecological life zones creating a unique biological sky-island.

Recreation - Horseback riding, hiking, and backpacking are enjoyed on this wilderness area.

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.

Location - Snow Mountain Wilderness Area straddles the summit of the Northern Interior Coast Ranges within Colusa, Glenn and Lake Counties. The area is less than a four-hour drive from San Francisco, Santa Rosa and Sacramento.

The central feature of this Wilderness Area is the large, broad topped Snow Mountain, which drains water toward the Sacramento River on the east and the Eel River Basin on the West.

The Snow Mountain Wilderness Area is located north of Clear Lake, west of Stonyford and east of Redwood Valley.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: marcia wright (Cobb, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: Greg and I did an overnighter on Bearwallow trail, north of Fouts Springs area on April 15, 2004. I had unsuccessfully tried to find a map of the Trough Fire burn area on the web which proved to be why we ended up hiking a trail almost completely burned. Interestingly, the other side of the (Middle Fork) Stony Creek canyon was untouched and a real joy to view. The trail is easy, like they say, except for the downed trees that require innovative thinking( through, over or around? and will my pack fit also?) etc. About 4 miles in and past the third creek crossing, an old-growth sugar pine had fallen, taken other trees down with it and obliterated the original trail. We camped there using an existing firering. The view of the two snowy peaks in the morning was wonderful, even though it had been a very cold night. Our new tent, Rock22 by The North Face worked out well as did our new mummy bags: the Cat's Meow and the Trinity.It rained during the night but by using the rainfly /vestibule, our packs stayed dry. Dress warm, in layers, as the elevation makes for quick temp changes. I don't think we could have found the remaining trsil that goes to Windy Point although we did hunt for it. Maybe we are still too novice at backpacking. Each trip we learn valuable lessons- this last one was "don't touch a burned trunk unless you want to be charcoal-smeared" (chuckle)

More Information

Additional Information:
Upper Lake Ranger District - Upper Lake Ranger District is located in the southeastern region of the Mendocino Forest. 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.


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