NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Howard Lake
Howard Lake

Description: A small remote natural lake in Mendocino National Forest stocked with rainbow trout. The elevation is 3,500 feet. There is a 4 site campground at lakeside with easy access to the lake itself. The lake is about 8 acres and small boats without motors are allowed; small inflatables being the most suitable. Unfortunately, the lake is pretty well choked with lily pads, with only about 15% of it being open water. Small boats can fight thru the lily pads fairly easily, however. Swimming is not recommended as the water is full of algae and you need to shower after a swim. The access road is an unmaintained dirt road that requires fording a small creek; the water depth normally is just a few inches but could be an issue in early spring.

Location: From Willits on Hwy. 101 drive north 11 miles to the turn to County Road 162. Drive 32 miles to Covelo and beyond where it ends at the national forest boundary. At a well marked intersection at the Eel River Work Station (there is a bar there, adjacent to the Eel River Campground) head north on Forest Road M1 for about 17 miles to FR 23N37 at the site of the Little Doe Campground. Turn left and drive about 3 miles to the Howard Lake Campground at lakeside. 

Nearest Town: Covelo

Camping: Howard Lake Campground has 4 sites for tents or small RV's, one of which is ADA compliant. Fire rings, vault toilets and picnic tables are provided. There is no drinking water. If that is full, backtrack to Little Doe Campground with 13 sites for tents and RV's to 16 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire rings and vault toilets are provided. Nearby is Howard Meadow Campground with 8 sites for tents or small RV's with similar amenities. Garbage must be carried out. None of these campgrounds are prone to filling up except during hunting season.

Fishing: For stocked rainbow trout and native shiners.

Boating: Very small with no motors; small inflatable ideal.

Other: Lake is clogged with lily pads.

Day Hikes in Area:

Backpacking Hikes in Area: The Yolla-Bolly Wilderness is just north a few miles.

Off-road Opportunities in Area:

Information: Mendocino National Forest, Covelo Ranger District. (707) 983-6118.