About the Area

Six Rivers National Forest

Stretching in a narrow 140-mile band from the Oregon border south, the Six Rivers National Forest offers nearly a million acres to discover and enjoy. It offers outstanding water recreation opportunities, special areas such as the Smith River National Recreation Area─the nation’s premiere example of a wild and scenic watershed, cultural heritage riches and legacies, and is one of Northern California’s best kept secrets offering uncrowded backcountry with lots of solitude. Its namesake major rivers─Smith, Klamath, Trinity, Eel, Van Duzen, and Mad─are among the 1,500 miles of waterways popular with anglers, kayakers, rafters, and sunbathers. The landscape is composed of extensive stands of conifers in a rugged mountain setting; elevations range from sea level to just under 7,000 feet. The forest  also includes three national scenic byways, six botanical areas, four wildernesses, 365 miles of wild and scenic rivers, several lakes, outstanding 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps architecture, historic mining and logging, nationally-recognized Passport-in-Time projects, sixteen family campgrounds, numerous rustic camps, historic Bear Basin Butte Lookout and Pierson Rental Cabin, 2500 miles of roads, and 250 miles of trails.  River fishing for trout, steelhead, and salmon is popular; opportunities for canoeing, rafting, kayaking, and swimming are abundant. The landscapes and waterscapes are truly spectacular, the life-styles and culture diverse, and the pace of living relaxed in the Northcoast area.

Eureka and Surrounding Community

The Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor’s Office is located in Eureka, which is 3 hours west of Redding and 5-6 hours north of San Francisco. Eureka and the surrounding cities of Arcata and McKinleyville provide a full range of community services. There are numerous shopping locations and grocery stores, medical services including three hospitals, libraries, a variety of restaurants and eateries, and recreation and cultural opportunities. The community also has multiple churches, numerous neighborhood elementary schools along with several private schools. There are two colleges located in the region, Humboldt State University and the College of the Redwoods. Transportation includes one commercial airport, Greyhound, and local bus service.

The culture of the area is rich and diverse with an inordinately high number of artists, writers, and musicians who are attracted to the unique beauty of the region. The Northcoast is strongly oriented to outdoor recreation with many activities focused on the ocean, numerous river systems, redwood cathedrals located in adjacent state and national parks, and other public lands. Outside Magazine in 2001 ranked the Northcoast area as one of the top 10 places in the nation to live, work, and play because of its outdoor recreation opportunities and outstanding scenic and lifestyle values.

For detailed information about the area, contact www.redwoodvisitor.org, the Humboldt County Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website.

Lower Trinity Ranger District Community

State Highway 299, the main travel route in Northwestern California to reach the Northcoast, bisects the Lower Trinity Ranger District. Willow Creek is approximately 100 miles west of Redding and 45 miles east of Eureka/Arcata. At one time, a major timber producing area, Willow Creek no longer supports a major manufacturing industry. Willow Creek however, is a recreation destination for sport fishing, including salmon and steelhead, kyakers, and river rafters who heavily use the Main Stem and South Fork of the Trinity River most of the year. The area is also famous for Bigfoot, achieving notoriety through the years as a hub for sightings.  Hunting also is a big draw to the area with large deer and bear populations.

An un-incorporated city, the greater area of Willow Creek has a population of approximately 2000 year-round residents.  An elementary school is located in Willow Creek with the high school for the area located on the Hoopa Valley Tribal Indian Reservation. Approximately 450 students from Orleans, Hoopa and the greater Willow Creek area attend the high school. Willow Creek has most of the amenities of a larger community, gas stations, medical clinics, churches, grocery store, dentist, auto parts, hardware stores, restaurants, golf course and several other small businesses that provide most of the shopping needs of local residents.  Residents will generally travel to Eureka (45 miles west), Weaverville (50 miles east) or Redding (100 east) for greater shopping opportunities.

Mad River Ranger District Community

The greater community of Mad River is extremely modest by the standards of many. Located approximately 50 road miles east of Fortuna and 90 road miles west of Red Bluff on Highway 36. This once booming timber driven and supported community offers a very dispersed population and limited amenities, its businesses and infrastructure do provide basic life necessities including: a local post office, a quaint fast food restaurant, offering some of the best burgers around, a primary health care clinic with emergency, dental, and counseling services, and a store with full service grocery, hardware, plumbing, gardening, feed supplies, video rentals, laundry facilities and gas pumps. 

Also located in Mad River is the Van Duzen Elementary School and Southern Trinity High School with a class size of between 10 to 14 students, allowing the teachers to provide a great amount of individualized attention. The Zenia-Hoaglin School, in the southern part of the district, averages 30 students in grades K through 8th.  The high school offers extracurricular activities including: cross country, volleyball, basketball, track, 4-H, rodeo, as well as some college prep classes.  The community supports two volunteer fire departments. There are two non-denominational churches in the area as well as a Catholic Church. The Community Center is the focal point of Southern Trinity community organizations.  Community organizations, which provide and sponsor many activities for the area, include the Lions Club, Six Rivers Senior Citizens, Humboldt-Trinity Recreation Alliance, Ruth Lake Summer Festival Committee, Van Duzen Booster Club,  and the Ruth Lake Community Services District.

A short scenic drive 10 miles south of Highway 36 toward Ruth Lake will land you at Journey’s End, a seasonal restaurant, bar, rental cabins, gas and grocery store, which offers all the necessities for that fishing or camping trip on the lake operating from May through October. Just across the street from Journey’s End is the Ruth Lake Marina offering full marine services and boat rentals. Further south is the Ruth Store, providing groceries, fuel and video rentals.

Orleans Ranger District Community

The community of Orleans is located along the Klamath river about 90 miles east of the Eureka/Arcata area via highway 96 and 299. The district is one of four on the Six Rivers National Forest, encompassing approximately 500,000 acres.  The district is about 30 air miles from the Northern Coast of California and subsequently under a coastal influence that produces a long summer season. The town of Orleans is an unincorporated community of about 800 people located in Humboldt County. Community businesses consist of one grocery/variety store, two service stations, a post office, and a restaurant. The town of Willow Creek is located approximately 38 miles south of Orleans. Willow Creek is a full service community. The community of Orleans has an elementary school. The high school is approximately 27 miles from Orleans in Hoopa. The nearest colleges are Humboldt State University, College of the Redwoods, and Shasta College. The Seventh Day Adventist Church, Community and Assembly of God Churches serve Orleans. There is a Catholic church located in Hoopa. Health clinics are located in Orleans, Hoopa, Happy Camp, and Willow Creek. There are major hospitals located in the Eureka/Arcata area.

Gasquet Ranger District - Smith River National Recreation Area Community

The rural townsite of Gasquet, founded in the late 1800s along the beautiful Smith River, has a population of 400. Services offered to the community include a post office, country store, hamburger stand motel/restaurant, church, primary and middle school, and a volunteer fire department. The Mediterranean coastal climate results in summers that are dry with temperatures in the 75-95 degree range, while the winters are mild but quite wet (average yearly precipitation is 90"+).

Most of the recreation area’s personnel live in the nearby seaport town of Crescent City. Crescent City, population 8,000, is a full-service community providing all medical, schooling, social, cultural, religious, and shopping needs. The College of the Redwoods has a branch campus in Crescent City, and a commuter airline services the city.

The Northcoast is strongly oriented to outdoor recreation with many activities focused on the ocean, magnificent redwoods, and miles of scenic rivers. Fishing for trout, steelhead, and salmon is popular as is kayaking, white water rafting, wilderness hiking, backpacking, and trail riding. The landscapes and waterscapes are truly spectacular, the life-styles and culture diverse, and the pace of living relaxed in the Northcoast area.