Yuki Wilderness is a 53,887-acre property straddling the boundary of Mendocino National Forest and spilling over onto BLM land. The wilderness was created by the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, signed into law on October 17, 2006. The name comes from the Yuki tribe of Native Americans who lived in this area long before the Anglo-American invaders arrived.
Yuki Wilderness offers a rugged landscape of steep canyons separated by long, gentle ridges. Elevations range from a low around 1,150 feet along the Middle Fork Eel River to a high of almost 6,500 feet near Windy Gap. Vegetation is a mix of chaparral, grasslands, oak groves and large stands of white fir, Shasta red fir, sugar pine, Jeffrey pine, ponderosa pine, incense cedar and Douglas fir. Of the 15 species of oak found in California, seven of them grow in abundance on Yuki Wilderness.
Fishermen will find steelhead and Chinook salmon and rainbow trout in the waters of the Middle Fork Eel Wild and Scenic River in the northwestern portion of the wilderness. Some estimates say the river supports more than one-third of the summer-run steelhead trout in California. Among the animals on the property you'll find goshawk, bald eagle, northern spotted owl, prairie falcon, blue grouse, golden eagle, pileated woodpecker, pine marten, beaver, river otter, Tule elk, black bear, mountain lion, ringtail cat, porcupine, badger and gray fox. Poison oak, rattlesnakes and ticks are common, very common on Yuki Wilderness. Good drinking water is hard to find in most parts of Yuki Wilderness. You'll want to bring plenty of your own, especially in the summer months.
Visitors don't need a backcountry permit but the Forest Service does ask that folks sign (and date) the registers at every trailhead. If you're going to camp overnight you might want to get a California campfire permit. There are no developed trails in the wilderness but most folks access the area via the large grassland areas south of Barley Lake and south and east of Barnes Ranch. Adjacent to the eastern edge of Yuki Wilderness is a stretch of the California Backcountry Discovery Trail: a route for hikers, equestrians and bicyclists that was originally designed and built for off-road motor vehicles.
Top photo courtesy of Sarah Wilson via Wilderness.net
Map courtesy of the US Forest Service