Six Rivers National Forest

Hiking & Backpacking

Six Rivers National Forest is criss-crossed by many extroardinary trails. The following trails are listed by the Ranger District in which they reside, from north to south. There are additional trails within the Smith River National Recreation Area.

Gasquet Ranger District

The Gasquet Ranger District has many miles of hiking trails to choose from, ranging from easy one day hikes to the more challenging treks into the Siskiyou Wilderness.

In addition to the following trails, the Gasquet Ranger District encompasses Smith River National Recreation Area and its trail system.

Wildlife and plant life are plentiful. Some of the wildlife you may encounter includes: gray squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and black tailed deer. There is also an abundance of bird life on the District. These include Blue Jays, Sparrows, Red-Tailed Hawks, Quail, Owls, and an occasional Golden or Bald Eagle. The plant life you may see includes huckleberry, manzanita, alder, three species of oak, three species of fir, and Incense and Port Orford cedar. There are also numerous species of wildflowers.

Be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially in the spring and early summer. Trees, flowers, wild animals, and other historic and natural features are yours to see, enjoy, and protect so they will be around for others to enjoy. If you plan to build a fire, please obtain a free campfire permit from the Forest Service office in Gasquet or the California Department of Forestry, Fire Protection office in Crescent City.

Trail Length: 8 Miles
Elevation at Trailhead: 4,000 Feet
Junction of South Kelsey; 1,000 Feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Use Level: Light
Topo Maps: Ship Mtn. N.E. 722-1C, Ship Mtn. S.E. 722-4C

ACCESS: Leaving Gasquet proceed southwest on U.S. 199 for approx. 7 miles to South Fork Road (County Road 427). Then proceed for approx. 12 miles to Forest Service Road 15N01 (G.O. road). Turn right onto F.S. road 15N01 and proceed to M.P. 14.93. The trailhead will be on the left hand side of the road. This trail can also be accessed from the South Kelsey trail approx. 3 miles from the trailhead.

DESCRIPTION: You will follow an old jeep road for the first mile. You then leave the jeep road and get onto the Summit Valley Trail which will take you through some small mountain meadows that are beautiful with blooming wildflowers in the late spring and early summer. The trail then takes you into Summit Valley, which is an approx. 3 acre meadow. Once you climb out of the meadow you will come to a junction in the trail. The trail to the right is approx. 1/4 mile long and will take you to the old Summit Valley lookout site. This is an excellent vista point with a view to the east of the rugged Siskiyou Backbone and the Siskiyou wilderness. To the west you can see the Pacific Ocean. Once back on the main trail it is a long slow descent to the junction with the South Kelsey Trail at Elkhorn Bar.

Island Lake: 5.2 Miles
Elevation: 3800-4900 Ft.
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Use Level: Light

ACCESS: From Gasquet proceed northeast on U.S. 199 to Little Jones Creek Road (F.S. road no. 17N05). Proceed on 17N05 for approx. 10 miles to F.S. road 16M02. Turn right on 16N02 and proceed for approx. 2 miles to F.S. road 16N28. Turn left on to 16N28 and proceed to the end of the road and you will be at the Island Lake trailhead.

DESCRIPTION: After leaving the trailhead you head downhill for approx. 1 mile with an elev. loss of 800 ft. to the South Fork of the Smith River. After fording the river, the trail climbs steeply for approx. 4 miles and an elev. gain of 2,000 ft., through mixed hardwood and conifer stands. Once you leave the river water is scarce until you reach the lake. Plants and wildlife are plentiful and once you reach the lake the fishing is usually very good.

Lower Trinity Ranger District

The South Fork Trail makes a lovely day hike for a cool spring or autumn day. Originally used in the late 1800s as a trail to link the miners along the South Fork of the Trinity River with the towns of Salyer and Hyampom, the trail in those days was located further up the slope than it is today and could accommodate livestock. The trail was reconstructed in its present location during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp.

The trailhead is reached by turning off of Highway 299 onto South Fork Road, just west of Salyer. Follow South Fork Road approximately 13 miles to where the pavement ends (this is the end of the County Road). Continue south on Forest Service Road 5N03 for another 2.9 miles. The northernmost mile of trail is actually a 4x4 road and could be driven by those with a four wheel drive vehicle.

The first segment of the trail skirts the south and southwest facing bluff, overlooking the South Fork of the Trinity River. Approximately three miles from the trailhead, the trail crosses the river at a ford. This spot makes a perfect picnic destination, a good place for a dip to wash off the trail dust, or a pleasant campsite.

From the ford, the trail continues another four miles on the west side of the river to a swinging foot bridge, where it again crosses the South Fork. There is another pleasant swimming hole and campsite at the bridge.

From this point on to Hyampom, the trail is assimilated into the Forest Service road network and continues on into the Hyampom Valley.

This can be a hot and dry hike during the summer months. During the spring, wildflowers are blooming all along the trail and the views are spectacular. This also makes a pleasant hike for a cool autumn day.

SAFETY NOTE: The northern-most mile of this trail is very narrow and situated on the river bluffs, making it generally unsuitable for horse travel. Hikers with small children should also use caution.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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