Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness

Yolla Bolly Wilderness Last Camp area

In the Wintun Indian language, "Yo-la" means "snow covered", and "Bo-li" means "high peak." The second part of this Wilderness' name refers to the headwaters of the Middle Fork Eel River, which originates in this remote and rugged land. This area was first protected in 1931 when it was classified as a primitive area. Further protection was given when this area became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, created by the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Act of 1984 added another 2,000 acres to the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, for a total of about 151,626 acres.

The Wilderness is roughly oval in shape, being about 19 miles long in the north-south direction and 24 miles wide in the east-west direction. The majority of the Wilderness lies in two districts of the Mendocino National Forest (Covelo and Grindstone Ranger Districts). The far northern portion of the Wilderness is in the Yolla Bolly Ranger District of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. To the far west, a part of the Wilderness is in the Mad River Ranger District of the Six Rivers National Forest, and the Bureau of Land Management has a small portion of the Wilderness (also on the western edge).

The lowest point of the Wilderness is along Cottonwood Creek (2,600' elevation). This is just four and a half miles from the highest point, Mount Linn, at an elevation of 8,092 feet. Several other peaks push their way above 7,000 feet and provide fine views (weather and smoke permitting) of Mount Lassen, Mount Shasta, the Trinity Alps, the Kings Range and sometimes the Pacific Ocean.

[Photograph]: Square Lake, from top of Mt. Linn. [Photograph]: Square Lake in the Yolla Bolly - Middle Eel Wilderness. [Photograph]: Foxtail Pines on Mt. Linn. [Photograph]: Mt. Linn - Yolla Bolly - Middle Eel Wilderness [Photograph]: Rock outcropping in southern Yolla Bolly - Middle Eel.

At a Glance

Reservations: None Available
Permit Info: You must obtain a California Campfire Permit if you plan to build a campfire or use a stove, unless you are in a developed recreation area (campground or picnic area).

Permits are available free-of-charge at offices of the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Restrictions: Individual Use Permits are not required to enter the Wilderness areas on the Mendocino National Forest, although we suggest you sign in at the trail heads. During fire season, you will need a valid California Campfire Permit to use a backpacking stove, build a fire, or use any type of flame. Also check with the nearest Ranger Station before going, to obtain current information and weather conditions on the area. Maximum group size is 25 people/25 stock animals. Wilderness travel is limited to foot or horseback - NO gliders, bicycles, motorized vehicles, or mechanized equipment of any kind are allowed within the wilderness areas. Wheelchairs are allowed.
Closest Towns: Covelo - Westside Red Bluff/Corning/Paskenta - Eastside
Water: None
Restroom: None
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Covelo Ranger District

General Information

General Notes:

Geologically, the area began to form 150 million years ago from ocean bottom sediments. Forces deep with the earth pushed the oceanic plate against the continental plate. This pressure changed the sediments into schists. Continued pressure pushed the land far above the sea and erosive forces started carving landforms. Evidence of past glaciations can still be seen on both North and South Yolla Bolly Mountains. Today the most evident geologic process is that of landslides which naturally occur on many creeks, rivers, and steep mountain slopes.

The forests in this Wilderness are extensive. The principle species are red fir, white fir, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, and incense cedar. Less common species are juniper, foxtail pine, hemlock, Jeffrey pine, western white pine, black cottonwood, and a rare yew. Other cover types include grasslands - locally known as "glades", wet and dry meadows, oak woodlands and brush lands.

The Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, like the rest of the North Coast Range, provides quite a wealth of wildlife. The more abundant game species are: the Columbia black tail deer, black bear, wild turkey, gray squirrel, grouse, and quail. Other animals that live in the Wilderness are mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, ring-tailed cats, raccoons, marten, otters, weasels, chipmunks, and numerous other small species. Eagles, hawks, turkey vultures, and multitude of other bird life find summer homes in this Wilderness (including the Northern Spotted Owl).


There is road access to or near the Wilderness boundary on every side. From the west side, via Highways 101 and 162, you will travel through Longvale, Covelo, Eel River Work Center, and then north to the Indian Dick area - a total distance from Highway 101 of about 75 miles (three hours travel time.) Access from the west is also possible by the way of Ruth and the Jones Ridge Road through Six Rivers National Forest.

From the Sacramento Valley, you may reach the Wilderness by turning west at Willows, Corning, or Red Bluff. Distances to the Wilderness trail heads from the east side vary between 50 to 90 miles from Interstate 5.

Visitors to this Wilderness must expect, on every route, considerable miles of travel over rough and dusty dirt roads. These roads may be quite dusty and are often in use by logging trucks. Be sure to keep to the right side of the road at all times, especially around blind corners.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

Camping sites are available at many of the trailheads entering into the Wilderness area.

Areas for Campground Camping at Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness

RV Camping

Some Wilderness trailheads have space available for a small to medium size camper or trailer.

Areas for RV Camping at Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness

Lake and Pond Fishing

There are only a few fishable wilderness lakes on the Mendocino and they are quite small.  These lakes are at the northeast end of the Forest.

Rainbow trout occur in Long Lake and brook trout are found in Square Lake.  The lakes are relatively open water and a bit easier for novices to learn to fly fish.  Both are reached by the Ides Cove National Recreation Trail.

River and Stream Fishing

Dozens of miles of the Middle Fork Eel and tributaries are closed to fishing to protect juvenile steelhead trout, so it is important to be familiar with the fishing regulations. 

However this wilderness still has dozens of miles of streams open to fish for rainbow trout.  The headwaters of Thomes, Balm of Gilead, and Rattlesnake offer remote fishing opportunities for people who like to hike.


Backpacking is the perfect way to visit some very beautiful and unique areas in remote locations of the wilderness area. Please remember to bring adequate gear and supplies, and remember to check the weather before you strike out on the trail.

Areas for Backpacking at Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness

Horse Camping

Overnight camping by horseback is a great way to introduce young and old alike to the pleasures of the great outdoors.

Areas for Horse Camping at Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness

Horse Riding

Horse riding in one of our wilderness areas...there's nothing else finer unless you toss in a glorious sunset too.

Areas for Horse Riding at Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
2,600 - 8,092 feet