Parks & Public Lands
Lake County has 29 parks that offer a vast array of scenery and activities. Swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, horseshoes, softball fields, boat launch – and more. For information on other Lake County parks, visit the Parks & Recreation pages on the Lake County website at http://parks.lakecountyca.gov.
Clear Lake State Park
Clear Lake State Park provides the best of both worlds with its opportunities for land and water activities. Clear Lake State Park attracts 120,000 visitors annually, who come to swim, fish, boat, waterski, hike, bird, picnic, and, of course, to camp.
The park has four developed campgrounds with a total of 147 sites for parking RVs and pitching tents. There are no hookups at sites; bathrooms are located at each of the campgrounds. Water lovers will enjoy a swim beach, boat docks and launches, mooring, piers, boat slips, and a marina.
A visitor’s center features interpretive displays that focus on natural, cultural, and recreational resources, as well as a large aquarium with some of the lake’s species. For land adventurers, the three-mile, moderately strenuous Dorn Trail winds through oak woodland and chaparral and takes hikers through a variety of vegetation including manzanitas and various native wildflowers. The easier, quarter-mile-long Indian Nature Trail is a self-guided trip back into time, passing through the site of a former Pomo village and demonstrating how Pomos used the native plants to meet their daily needs. Birding opportunities and wildlife sightings are common on both trails.
(707) 279-4293, www.parks.ca.gov or www.clearlakestatepark.org; for reservations, call (800) 444-7275
Mendocino National Forest
The only one of 18 national forests in California not crossed by a highway or even paved road, Mendocino National Forest is sprawled across Mendocino, Glenn, Tehama, and Lake counties. In all its expansiveness, however, the national gem exudes tranquility. Some campsites, fishing spots, and picnic areas in Lake County's Upper Lake Ranger District include Bear Creek, Deer Valley, Lower Nye, Middle Creek, and Pine Point. Lake Pillsbury’s northern shoreline also is outlined by a handful of campgrounds including Sunset Facilities, Pogie Point Facilities, Oak Flat, Navy Camp, and Fuller Grove. Campsites are open May through September except for Oak Flat, which is open year-round. The forest's largest body of water, Lake Pillsbury is a 2,280-acre lake nestled in the middle of untarnished forestland with two free public boat launches, no motor restrictions, and afternoon winds perfect for sailing and sail boarding.
Lake Pillsbury trails include the easy 1/2-mile-long Sunset Trail Nature Loop for hikers only, which features chaparral, oak, and mixed conifers, as well as the more challenging 3.2- mile-long Packsaddle Trail for hikers and horseback riders. Packsaddle is rich with Douglas fir, madrone, black oak, and mixed chaparral.
The Snow Mountain Wilderness Area features the 6.5-mile-long Overlook Loop Trail for hikers and horseback riders, with great views of Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, and the Yolla Bollys, through fir forest, low manzanita, creeks, and unusual plant communities, connecting to East Peak Loop and other trails deeper into the wilderness area. An alternate route, the Waterfall Loop, is 6.8 miles long and leads to views of Lake County’s secret waterfalls. Along with wildlife viewing, hiking and horseback riding, Mendocino National Forest features off-highway vehicle trails.
For details on trails, permits, regulations, and general information, call (707) 275-2361; for recreation, including off-highway vehicle information, call (707) 275-2167, www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino
Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
Anderson Marsh dates back more than 10,000 years ago when Pomos inhabited the land. Preservation for both history and ecology, Pomo artifacts can be found throughout the park, as well as a range of protected wildlife.
Several foot trails wind through the 1,065 acres of riparian, grassland, oak woodland, and tule marsh habitats. Four major foot trails – both wet and dry – include Marsh, Ridge, Anderson Flats, and Cache Creek Nature Trail, which features interpretive displays.
Wildlife, waterfowl, and other bird viewing can be done by both land and water, with exceptional sightings found in the marsh. McVicar Wildlife Sanctuary is open to the public, as well as an old ranch house, where weekend tours are conducted. Along with various species of fish, wildlife include the northwestern pond turtle, bats, gray fox, frogs, garter snakes, mink, muskrats, opossums, raccoon, river otter, skunks, and toads. For more information, call (707) 995-2658, www.parks.ca.gov or www.andersonmarsh.org
Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest
Boggs is 4 miles wide and 2.25 miles long, with a total of 3,493 acres of land at elevations between 2,400 and 3,750 feet. Temperatures can get as low as 13º F and as high as 105º F throughout the year. The forest features 25 miles of unimproved roads, more than 21 miles of nonmotorized use trails, and two campgrounds with 19 campsites. Fee for camping. Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir are major habitat types, as well as chaparral, manzanita, mixed conifer forest, coffeeberry, and live and black oak. Deeper into the forest are meadows with a grazing history going back over 150 years. Four main creeks originate near the mountain top, including Mill Creek, Spikenard Creek, Houghton Creek, and Malo Creek.
Along with several bird species, the black-tailed hare, black bear, bobcat, brush mouse, chipmunk, deer mouse, dusky-footed woodrat, gray fox, mountain lion, mule deer, ornate shrew, raccoon, western gray squirrel, wild pig, garter snake, sagebrush lizard, southern alligator lizard, western fence lizard, and western rattlesnake are the major wildlife that call Boggs home. For more information, call (707) 928-4378, www.boggsmountain.org
Rodman Slough is home to one of the largest great blue heron rookeries in Northern California. Herons of all sorts, egrets, and grebes can be easily viewed. Osprey rear young in a nest that rests atop a fake telephone pole installed for the birds’ protection.
The site features a large community of blue oaks, valley oaks, and willows. The bulrushes support a strong population of marsh wrens, and at the lower edges of the slough, fish can be seen spawning and rearing—especially during the spring season. Visitors may experience the slough’s diverse wildlife in several ways. Boaters can access it from Clear Lake under the bridge near the mouth of the slough and kayakers can put in at the soft launch ramp near the undeveloped county park. Picnickers can enjoy the lakefront park—with views of Clear Lake and Mount Konocti—anytime. Free guided bird and nature hikes are given at the adjacent Lake County Land Trust nature preserve, (www.lakecountylandtrust.org) on Saturday mornings. For information or to volunteer, call 995-1398, www.co.lake.ca.us
Cow Mountain Recreation Area
Named for the longhorn cattle that once roamed wild, the 52,000-acre Cow Mountain Recreation Area offers a variety of recreational opportunities. The terrain is rugged, consisting mostly of steep, chaparral-covered slopes with scattered stands of fir, pine and oak. Elevations range from 800 to 4,000 feet. The area offers beautiful views of Ukiah and Clear Lake, over 31 miles of stream, 13 wildlife reservoirs, and habitat for blacktail deer, bear, wild turkey, and other upland species.
The Recreation Area is divided into three management sections to provide quality recreational opportunities for a wide variety of users: North Cow Mountain Recreation Area, South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area and the Sheldon Creek Recreation Site. (707) 468-4000, The Recreation Area is divided into three management sections to provide quality recreational opportunities for a wide variety of users: North Cow Mountain Recreation Area, South Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area and the Sheldon Creek Recreation Site. (707) 468-4000, http://www.blm.gov
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