The United States Congress designated the North Fork Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 8,158 acres
All of this wilderness is located in California
and is managed by the Forest Service.
Designated Wild and Scenic, the thin ribbon of the Eel River's North Fork flows through the middle of this Wilderness and through a spectacular gorge lined with mixed conifers in its upper region and an oak forest lower down. Steelhead and salmon live in the river in limited numbers, and fishing is permitted. The steep and rugged Wilderness encompasses the watershed of the North Fork, with streams feeding the river from the east and west. North-facing slopes are timbered in Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and delightfully fragrant incense cedar. South-facing slopes are generally grassy and overgrown with manzanita and scrub oak. Due to the relatively low elevations, black-tailed deer gather here in substantial numbers, especially when the temperature drops, and attract hunters in the fall who report high success rates. Remnants of old trails exist, but none are maintained and trail access is invitingly poor. Wilderness access is, in fact, very limited. This is not an area for the novice outdoorsperson. Be handy with map and compass, and be prepared. You'll probably be alone in North Fork Wilderness, except during hunting season.