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Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness

Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Map showing the location of Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness
Map showing the location of Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness
Map of the United States
Location Northern California Coast Range; Tehama / Trinity / Mendocino counties, California, USA
Nearest city Red Bluff, California
Area 180,877 acres (731.98 km2)
Established 1964
Governing body U.S. Forest Service / Bureau of Land Management

The Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area located 45 miles (72 km) west of Red Bluff in the state of California. Created by the Wilderness Act of 1964, the land area was originally 170,195 acres (68,875 ha). The wilderness area was enlarged by the California Wilderness Act of 1984, and again by the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2006, for a present total of 180,877 acres (73,198 ha).[1]

Most of it (172,998 acres) is managed by the US Forest Service and is within several national forest boundaries which are: Mendocino, Shasta–Trinity and Six Rivers national forests. The balance of 7,879 acres (31.89 km2) is on Bureau of Land Management land. The name is from the Wintun Native American language and means "snow-covered high peak".

Elevations range from 2,700 feet (820 m) to 8,092 feet (2,466 m)[2] at Mount Linn.


  • History 1
  • Waterways 2
  • Flora and fauna 3
  • Geology 4
  • Recreation 5
  • See also 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


In 1927 Chief Forester William Greeley directed the district supervisors to study and recommend areas in the forests suitable for a new classification as "wilderness". By 1929 fourteen areas in the California Region 5 forests were proposed for this designation.

The regulations for wilderness areas, known as the L-20, became – with modifications by Secretary of Agriculture James Jardine – the management policy for these areas. The L-20 Regulations used the term "primitive areas" with the purpose stated as to:

maintain primitive conditions of environment, transportation, habitation, and subsistence with a view to conserving the value of such areas for purposes of public education and recreation.[3]

Of the three new "primitive areas" located in northern California, the Middle Eel–Yolla Bolla Primitive Area was the largest at 200,000 acres (81,000 ha). The size was reduced to 107,195 acres (43,380 ha) in 1931. By the close of 1932 California had eighteen new primitive areas protecting 1,900,000 acres (770,000 ha).[4] Federal protection was given when this area became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, created by the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964.


Located mostly within the North Coast Ranges, the rugged topography of the Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness protects headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Eel River, the North Fork of the Eel, the Mad River and the South Fork of the Trinity River. The eastern side has the watersheds of Cottonwood and Thomes Creeks, which flow into the Sacramento River. The very northern tip of the wilderness—around the summits of Black Rock Mountain and North Yolla Bolly Peak—are in the Klamath Mountains. Both the Middle and North Forks of the Eel River have Wild and Scenic River designation, as does the South Fork[5] of the Trinity River. Several small, shallow lakes occur in remnant glacial basins near the highest peaks. Numerous springs are found off of the main ridgetops.

Flora and fauna

The wilderness has Coast Range and Klamath montane, mixed evergreen and Douglas fir forest types. Conifers include the California endemic foxtail pine, ponderosa pine, red and white firs, western white pine, sugar pine, incense cedar, and the rare Pacific yew.[6] Other tree species include oaks and cottonwoods. The area includes wet meadows and open grasslands supporting abundant deer herds (as well as cattle and sheep). Lower elevations have chamise, manzanita, and ceanothus.

Wildlife in the wilderness includes bear, deer, gray fox, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, northern flying squirrel, fisher and martin. The Northern Spotted Owl can be found here, as well as eagles, hawks, turkey vultures and smaller birds like grouse, quail, and bandtailed pigeon.

Rainbow trout live in most larger streams, such as in the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek, and in Black Rock Lake. The Middle Fork Eel River watershed has summer- and winter-run steelhead and spring-run chinook salmon, but fishing is restricted.


Rocks in the northern mountains are predominantly gray greenstone while the southern mountains include sandstone and serpentine of the Franciscan formation. Circque basins from former glaciers are seen above about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) elevation. Extensive faulting in the rocks makes the region prone to erosion, slumping and landslides. One modern landslide near Ides Cove, on the north flank of Mount Linn, reached more than two miles (3 km) toward the South Fork Cottonwood Creek,[7] upending old-growth forests and leaving large fissures on its perimeter.


Recreational activities include backpacking, day-hiking, camping, fishing and nature photography. There are 15 trailheads all around the wilderness boundary with the most frequent users being hunters in the autumn months. Visitor use has one of the lowest densities among wilderness areas in California. The Ides Cove Loop Trail is over 10 miles (16 km) in length and travels through very scenic areas. This trailhead is also the beginning of the Bigfoot Trail. The US Forest Service encourages visitors to use Leave No Trace ethics when visiting the wilderness to minimize impact to the environment.

Access to trailheads on the northwest side of the wilderness is available by paved road from Ruth. Other roads suitable for most passenger vehicles reach the south boundary from Covelo and the east boundary from Corning or Red Bluff.

See also


  1. ^ – Acreage Breakdown data page on acreage of Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness. Retrieved 9-5-08.
  2. ^ United States Geological Survey Feature Detail Report
  3. ^ Godfrey pp. 215–217
  4. ^ Godfrey, p 219
  5. ^ Land acquisition proposal on the South Fork by the Bureau of Land Management.
  6. ^ Kauffmann, Michael (2012). Conifer Country. Kneeland: Backcountry Press.  
  7. ^ Wenzel, R., de la Fuente, J., Faust, R.. Assessment of the Slides Glade Landslide, Mendocino National Forest. USDA Forest Service. 1st North American Landslide Conference, June 3–10, 2007, Vail, Colorado.


  1. Adkinson, Ron Wild Northern California. The Globe Pequot Press, 2001
  2. Godfrey, Anthony The Ever-Changing View – A History of the National Forests in California USDA Forest Service Publishers, 2005 ISBN 978-1-59351-428-0
  3. Wuerthner, George "California Wilderness Areas". Westcliffe Publishers, 1997.
  4. Shechter, Mordechai, and Robert C. Lucas "Simulation of Recreational Use for Park and Wilderness Management". Resources for the Future, 1979.

External links

  • Official website of Mendocino National Forest, wilderness areas. accessed 9-5-08
  • National Wild and Scenic Rivers System website. accessed 9-5-08
  • website main page. accessed 9-5-08
  • The Wilderness Society website. accessed 9-5-08
  • Foxtail pine on Mount Linn
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