NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California


Forest Highway FH7- To Plaskett Meadows/ Plaskett Lakes

On one level this is a fairly easy jaunt to two small (3-4 acres), connected remote lakes located about dead center in the national forest. The nearest towns are Elk Creek to the east and Covelo to the west. The lakes are about 35 miles from Elk Creek and 15 miles from the Eel River Work Station outside of Covelo. There is trout fishing in the lakes, and the largest of the two is considered best for that purpose. Motors are not allowed. The elevation is 6,000 feet so you are up there so be prepared for cold nights early. Swimming is not recommended due to lake conditions near shore; muck and weeds. 

The road actually traverses the forest. We will track from west to east, but you can obviously do it the other way as well.

Like several of our trips here, this one starts at the Eel River Work Station just east of the town of Covelo. To get to Covelo, take Hwy. 101 to the town of Longdale, midway between Willits to the south and Laytonville to the north. Turn east on Hwy. 162 and follow it to Covelo. Stay on the road until you get to the Eel River Work Station, also the site of the Eel River Campground. It is here you can pick up FH7. You will know you are at the right place because there is a bar located right at the intersection.

There is a campground here (Eel River) if you need one.

Eel River Campground

Location: Eel River Work Station.

Attraction: Proximity to the Eel River, but the campground is not at river level so you need to hike down. Not a particularly attractive place and hot in summer.

Campsite Description: 15 sites for tents or RV's to 21 feet. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and vault toilets are available. At 1,500 feet it can be hot in summer.

Season: April thru December.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $8   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 1,500 feet
Toilets Pit   Supplies In Covelo

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

Day Hikes in Area: Travelers Home National Recreation Trail. From Covelo  its about 10 miles East)on Hwy. 162 to the junction with Blands Cove Rd. Turn left and go 3 miles. Trailhead on FR 24N21 marked "Travelers Home Trail." 7.6 mile jaunt that ends in a Wild and Scenic area of the Middle Fork of the Eel River. Starts at an elevation of 2,100 feet so is hot in summer; best to go in other seasons. The trail rises from 2,100 feet to 3,700 feet, a moderate elevation gain but enough to justify bringing water. Mountain bikers share the trail. GPS location: Lat. 39.841256; long. 123.077989.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: The Hell Hole Trailhead is a few miles further on.

Off-Road Opportunities in Area: If you follow FR M1 south instead of FH7 there are many OHV opportunities. See our write-up on FR M1.

Now it's time to head east on FH7, that starts out as County Road 338. The road is paved for about 11.5 miles and then becomes a high quality gravel/dirt road for about another 17 miles to the lakes. But before you get there, the first campground that you will encounter is Atchison Campground, a small dispersed unit with no amenities other than a vault toilet. You need to make a short detour off FH7 onto FR 22N11 to the site. This is about 5 miles before you arrive at Plaskett Lakes.

Atchison Campground

Location: On FR 22N11 just off FH7 east of the Eel River Work Center. GPS coordinates: Lat: 39.750227; Long: 122.924974.

Attraction: A primitive site for those who prefer them. A hunting camp during the season.

Campsite Description: 6 sites with a vault toilet.

Season: May-November

Reservations: None accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees None   Fishing No
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 3,900 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Covelo

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

Day Hikes in Area:

Backpacking Hikes in Area:

Off-Road Opportunities in Area: There are OHV trails in the area.

Next up is Plaskett Meadows- Plaskett Lakes. There is a group site about 1 mile from the lakes and a traditional campground nearby.

Masterson Group Campground

Location: 1 mile from Plaskett Lakes. 36 miles northwest of Elk Creek and 15 miles east of the Eel River Work Station. GPS location: Lat: 39.44.15.60281 Long: 122.50.50.02505..

Attraction: Access to the lakes.

Campsite Description: 1 site with a capacity of 75 people for tents, RV's or trailers. Picnic tables, fire grills, vault toilets and drinking water are available. The nearest town is Elk Creek. Motors are not allowed on the lakes.

Season: June- October.

Reservations: Required at (877) 444-6777

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $75   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No motors
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Yes
Showers No   Elev 6,000 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies None nearby

Information: Mendocino National Forest, Grindstone Ranger District, (530) 963-3128.

Day Hikes in Area: Black Butte Trail. This is a fairly popular hike to one of the higher peaks in this area at 7,448 feet. The trailhead is a short distance before you get to the lakes, and can be accessed from a short spur road marked FR 22N26. From the top you get views of Mt. Lassen, Sutter Buttes, Anthony Peak, Snow Mountain, etc. A nice place to be on a clear day. The trail is only .7 miles but with a 400 foot elevation gain.

Backpacking Hikes in Area:

Off-Road Opportunities in Area:

Plaskett Meadows Campground

Location: At Plaskett Lakes. 36 miles northwest of Elk Creek and 15 miles east of the Eel River Work Station. GPS location: Lat: 39.43.40.97317. Long: 122.50.42.62681.

Attraction: Camping and trout fishing. These are small, 3-4 acre lakes. Motors are nor permitted. Swimming not recommended due to muck and weeds.

Campsite Description: 32 sites for tents or RV's to 16 feet. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills, vault toilets and potable water.

Season: June- October

Reservations: None accepted.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $10   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No motors
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Yes
Showers No   Elev 6,000 feet
Toilets Vault   Supplies Covelo or Elk Creek

Information: Mendocino National Forest, Grindstone Ranger District. (530) 963-3128.

Day Hikes in Area: Black Butte Trail. This is a fairly popular hike to one of the higher peaks in this area at 7,448 feet. The trailhead is a short distance before you get to the lakes, and can be accessed from a short spur road marked FR 22N26. From the top you get views of Mt. Lassen, Sutter Buttes, Anthony Peak, Snow Mountain, etc. A nice place to be on a clear day.

Backpacking Hikes in Area:

Off-Road Opportunities in Area: If you want to backtrack to FR M1, there are many opportunities for the OHV enthusiast south of the Eel River Work Station.

If you want to continue east you will end up at County Road 306 just north of the town of Elk Creek. There are no more campgrounds or lakes on that stretch of road. You could drive south on Hwy. 306 to the village of Stonyford and drive FR M10 if you wish. Click the link for information on that roadtrip.

End of Trip