The Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness contains rugged Coast Range ridges covered with thick forests of redwood, Douglas-fir, and tan-oak. There are two major forest types encompassing the area; the mixed evergreen forest and the redwood forest. Late-successional and old-growth stands of Douglas-fir are scattered throughout the area. Chaparral communities are found mainly on south-facing slopes and ridgetops. A seven-mile-long segment of the South Fork Eel Wild and Scenic River flows through and bisects the wilderness area.
Notable wildlife species include the federally-threatened northern spotted owl and other old-growth forest related species, the federally-endangered bald eagle and peregrine falcon. Anadromous fish species such as Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead utilize the South Fork Eel River and its tributaries as rearing and spawning grounds.
Although this area was created under the 2006 Northern California Coastals Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, the Act required that the area be designated as wilderness once conditions on these acres were restored and were compatible with the Wilderness Act, or no later than five years after the Act’s passage. After this five-year interrim period, the BLM determined no additional restoration was necessary, as the area had naturally rehabilitated itself during that time.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness.
The Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness is approximately 60 miles north of Ukiah, just west of U. S. Highway 101. Access to the wilderness area is from U.S. Highway 101 at Laytonville, west on Branscomb Road, then along Jack of Hearts Road, and right on Elkhorn Ridge Road.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act - Public law 109-362 (10/17/2006) To designate certain National Forest System lands in the Mendocino and Six Rivers National Forests and certain Bureau of Land Management lands in Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, and Napa Counties in the State of California as wilderness, to designate the Elkhorn Ridge Potential Wilderness Area, to designate certain segments of the Black Butte River in Mendocino County, California as a wild or scenic river, and for other purposes.