Special Places

Thomes Creek Grindstone Ranger District

The only one of California's 18 national forests not crossed by a paved road or highway makes the Mendocino National Forest especially attractive to people seeking an outdoor experience of tranquility and solitude.

The forest, however, is a working forest as well as a recreation area, and resource activities such as logging and grazing do occur on both National Forest lands and private holdings within the Forest.

Elevations range from 750 feet in the Grindstone Creek Canyon in the Sacramento Valley foothills on the forest's eastern edge to the 8,092 feet of South Yolla Bolly Mountain in the northern part of the forest. The average elevation is about 4,000 feet.

Highlighted Areas

Chico Seed Orchard

The Chico Seed Orchard is located on 209 acres in Chico, California. Development started in 1904 when the site was assigned to the Agricultural Research Service for the purpose of plant breeding research and plant introduction from all over the world.

The orchard's primary functions are:

  • Provide high-quality, source-identified seed.
  • Enhance reforestation success in current and future planting environments.
  • Promote gene conservation in the Pacific Southwest Region.
  • Focus on ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir seed production.

Seed produced at the Chico Seed Orchard benefits:

  • Ecological restoration
  • Wildfire recovery
  • Native American cultural values
  • Forest health, including research and disease resistance

The secondary function is to provide for recreation, public service, and education.  Recreational activities include:

  • 1-mile self-guided, paved and accessible nature trail
  • Wildlife and bird watching
  • Dog walking (leash required)
  • Picnicking
  • Trash and restrooms available
  • No public drinking water

Note: The main gate on site is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on holidays.  The pedestrian gate is open in the summer seven days a week, except on holidays, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter. Visitors are not allowed on the property after dark.

Pine Mountain Lookout

This rustic lookout was constructed on the western shoulder of Pine Mountain overlooking the Van Arsdale area.

It is located on an outcrop at 4000 feet in elevation, within a mixed conifer forest consisting of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, black oak and madrone. Bucknell Creek and the Eel River are the major drainages in the area.

The historic town of Upper Lake is approximately 19 miles to the south and the Lake Pillsbury recreation area is seven miles to the northeast.

The Pine Mountain Lookout is currently accessible to modern day vehicles, but it is necessary to bring your own water and pack out your own garbage when renting the lookout.

Some other items you will need to bring with you are food, cooking utensils, bedrolls, pillows and warm evening clothes. The bunk bed has metal springs, there are no box springs or mattresses.

Please remember this site is rustic. The rental fees will help complete the restoration, and maintain the lookout.

The Lookout is available during the summer months and reservations can be made at Recreation.gov

Red Bluff Recreation Area

The sparkling Sacramento River bisects 488 acres of riparian forest, flowering grasslands, wetlands, and oak woodlands providing very diverse Naturewatch experiences. Visitor facilities are closed.

Additional Information

Areas & Activities