The Forest History Trail is a dog-friendly trail located in the Jackson State Forest which is the largest of eight demonstration state forests under the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The trail is, therefore, on the western edge of Mendocino County at Fort Bragg and right at the heart of California's coastal redwood region. The trail has several steep sections and is well-maintained.
To access the trailhead, drive about five-and-a-half miles east on Little Lake Road until you see a sign labeled ‘End of Pavement.’ Turn left on County Road 408, and you will see another sign labeled ‘Highway 20, 6 miles ‘. Follow this unpaved, bumpy road for approximately one mile until you find a parking lot to your right. The Forest History Trail trailhead starts right at the parking lot and the overall elevation along the trail ranges from 275 feet to about 1,000 feet.
The trail starts by taking you downhill and along a ridge top. About half a mile into the trail, you will find a junction where you can choose to turn southeast and continue along the four-mile Forest History Trail loop. Your other choice at the junction is to turn southwest off the main trail and into a different, less strenuous trail along the ridge top called Observation Trail.
Along the Forest History Trail loop are 45 trail markers that explain why the forest is a huge attraction for hikers. These trail markers can be used to track your progress along the loop. The markers correspond to five distinct sections. The Redwood Ecology section features a mixed redwood forest, the Demonstration Forestry section features timber management, the Native American Era section describes the livelihood of the Pomo Indians in the forest, the Early Logging Days section describes logging methods used between 1850 and 1900, and the Forest Management section features experimental methods for re-growing redwoods after logging.
Taking a hike along the Forest History Trail is a pawtacular experience for you to spend time with your pooch. You are expected to keep Fido on a leash and clean up after them, so be sure to carry some bags. Also, bring water for you and your pooch since there is no drinking water along the trail. There are several benches for you and your furry friend to rest, soak in the history and the forest environment around you. Enjoy this pawrific forest experience with your pup!
There may be some daring cyclists along steep sections of the trail, so remain vigilant while hiking.