South Fork National Recreation Trail, Yolla Bolla Wilderness (04/22/15)

My fall foliage hike along the South Fork of the Trinity River beckoned a return to discover spring seasonal differences.

In 2013, we were surprised to find this well-aged sign. Nearly two years later it remains planted prominently near the long and slightly rickety suspension bridge. The forest service web site does not indicate closure of this trail, nor was there any other evidence indicating that the trail or the bridge is considered off limits. 

If the closed sign and rickety welcome suspension bridge don’t dissuade you, the twisty long drive along Highway 36 may, or possibly the isolated trail passing occasionally through private property, the rattlesnakes or prevalent poison oak.

Still interested? The gentle rolling grade, soft surface trail will delight your senses. There is plenty of river and stream access, three quaint wooden bridges to cross, one steel bridge plus this suspension bridge, many trees, plants, birds, bugs and animals to enjoy, as well as historical artifacts to explore.

Ever wonder what it takes to become a National Recreation Trail???

My exciting find of the day – Fairyslipper  (aka Deer’s Head Orchid)



I believe Slimleaf or Paper Onion

Dogwood tree blooms

Gorgeous Madrone trees

One of three very quaint yet sturdy, log bridges

No rattlesnakes today, just this fat slug

Old ranger station being reclaimed by nature

Most of the signage has seen better days

I’ve saved the best story for last. In 2013, one of the highlights of our trip was spotting a bald eagle perched on a bare tree limb over the river, many hundreds of feet below the trail. I’d forgotten about that sighting until . . .  I happen to glance to my right taking in the beauty of the river when something catches my eye, I back up and sure enough, there sits a bald eagle. The same place where we’d seen one in October 2013.

My current camera does not have a very good telephoto lens so sadly I couldn’t get a clear shot, but if you look closely at the below photo, you’ll spot the black body and white head. A few minutes after leaving our spot, this magnificent creature flew overhead gracing us with it’s beauty before disappearing into parts unknown. As we retraced our steps on the return trip, it still had not returned to it’s perch. Can you believe the timing? For us to happen to look at the right time and for it to be there just then was truly unbelievable and a very special moment.

Bald Eagle sighting

This next photo gives you an idea of how far away we actually were. 

My friend was able to capture our special moment.

Some days are luckier than others. On our drive home, we witnessed not only this beautiful double rainbow but a fit of fury by mother nature with thunder, lightning and a heavy downpour.

One of the most difficult skills to learn as a hiker is how to gauge our personal fitness level against trail conditions such as elevation gain and loss. For example, this trail was rated “family friendly with gentle grades.” When you look at the profile and notice a low elevation of around 2,300′ and a high around 2,700′, it’s easy to presume only 400′ of climbing over 7.5 miles. But when you take a trail like this that has many ups and downs, the true climbing elevation becomes a much different story.

My legs agree with the stats of 5,000′ of climbing over those 15 miles. For me, breaking up the climbs over this terrain is much much easier than doing one or two continuous climbs equaling 5,000′. Either tracking or journaling your trips is a good way to learn about your personal parameters. It’s also a great way to compare growth over time, and is especially helpful when hiking with others. I use the Trimble Outdoors app with my phone on airplane mode.


There is not a lot of information available on the internet about this trail. Here is a link to a USFS pdf you can download with some details. It’s an easy trail to follow, and is shown on most topographical maps.

Here’s the link to my fall foliage trip on this trail.

4 thoughts on “South Fork National Recreation Trail, Yolla Bolla Wilderness (04/22/15)

  1. Pingback: 2015 -Where did Jan Jaunt? | Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

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