Description - Encompassing the entire eastern region of the Mendocino National Forest, Grindstone Ranger District manages 433,719 acres. Lying east and southeast of the Yolla Bolly - Middle Eel Wilderness, Grindstone has both the highest and lowest elevations on the Forest. Mt. Linn towers at 8,092 feet in the designated wilderness area while Grindstone Creek (where it leaves the Forest) is a mere 720 feet. Grindstone also shares the other two District's highest points.
All of the Ranger Districts have a wide variety of wildflowers that bloom at various times through spring and summer: California poppy, penstemon, shooting stars, wild iris, milkweed, Indian paintbrush, buttercups, dogwood, wild lilac, and many varieties of lupine. Vegetation types include mixed conifer forests, oak woodlands and savannah, chaparral, annual and perennial grass glades, and wet meadows.
The Districts also share many species of wildlife in common, including black-tailed deer, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, skunk, badger, gray squirrel, ground squirrel, rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, lizards, toads, pacific tree frog, quail, wild turkey, blue grouse, golden eagle, spotted owl, goshawk, prairie falcon, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, turkey buzzard, scrub jays, and a variety of migratory birds and woodpeckers. Rainbow trout, western pond turtle, and yellow-legged frog live in and around many of the streams of each of the three Districts.
The waters of the Mendocino flow to the Pacific Ocean, westward through the Eel River system, and eastward through the Sacramento River system and San Francisco Bay.
- The Grindstone Ranger District offers many different activities to participate in from fishing at Letts Lake to picnicking at Plaskett Meadows. There are over 25 campgrounds that offer access to every portion of the District. A good camping option is the site at Plaskett Lake where sites sit at an elevation of 6,000 feet amid the fir and pines. There are two small lakes, 3 and 4 acres in size. No motorized boats allowed on the lake and not recommended for swimming.
Letts and Plaskett Lakes range in size from 3 to 13 acres, and are locally popular for camping and fishing. The dominant fish species in Plaskett Lake is rainbow trout. The California Department of Fish and Game and the Glenn County Fish and Game Commission plant the lake with catchables each year. Letts Lake is a 35-acre impoundment built in the early 1950s. Trout were planted in the lake soon after dam construction grew well and Letts received considerable notoriety, soon becoming one the most popular fishing destinations on the east side of the Mendocino National Forest. Today, anglers snag rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. The California Department of Fish and Game plants Letts Lake with catchable rainbow trout. The bass are a self-sustaining population. Catfish were planted several years ago and a few large fish remain in the lake.
The Yolla Bolly - Middle Eel Wilderness is shared by Covelo and Grindstone Ranger Districts. Snow Mountain Wilderness is shared by Grindstone and Upper Lake Districts. Snow Mountain is the southernmost peak in the North Coast Range. The diversity of wildlife is great: 122 species including deer, bear, mountain lion, eagle, and hawk call the Wilderness home. The wilderness areas provide an opportunity to hike, backpack, and horseback ride.
Both Grindstone and Upper Lake Ranger Districts manage a system of off-highway vehicle trails that are recognized by users and environmentalists as a model for quality, environmentally sound OHV recreation.
Travel times to the major trailheads range from three to six hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, including one to two hours on dirt roads.
Note: Please be careful with fire. Watch for ticks, poison oak, yellow jackets, hornets, scorpions and snakes.
Recreation - The Grindstone Ranger District offers many opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, camping, OHV use, and horseback riding.
Climate - The climate on the Mendocino is greatly influenced by elevation. As throughout California, most of the precipitation comes between November and April. This comes in the form of rain at the lower elevations and some wet, heavy snow in the higher elevations. April through October are normally dry, with warm to hot temperatures at the low elevations and moderate temperatures in the higher elevations.
The Grindstone Ranger District is the entire eastern region of the Mendocino National Forest. This area is east and southeast of the Yolla-Bolly Wilderness area. The Ranger District is located east of Stonyford, Elk Camp and Paskenta.