Sunday, August 30, 2020


M9 Road Heading to Doe Peak - Circa 2017
Mendocino National Forest

*All of these pictures are near or in the August Complex Fire burn footprint


The one-two punch of COVID-19 and the 2020 wildfire season continues to devastate families, private homes, and public lands in the Golden State.  One wildfire of keen interest to many backcountry trail enthusiasts is the August Complex Fire that is advancing across the northern part of the Mendocino National Forest.

M3 Road North of SheetIron Mountain - Circa 2014
Mendocino National Forest

Historically, this region of the Forest provides access to a lot of mid to high-elevation “deep woods” type dispersed/remote backcountry recreation for both motorized and non-motorized outdoor enthusiasts vs. the southern end of the Forest that is home to more developed OHV use, boating, camping, and fishing. 

OHV Route at Doe Peak Area - Circa 2017
Mendocino National Forest

The August Complex’s destructive path continues north from where the 2018 Ranch Fire was stopped near SheetIron Mountain.   Much of this area is a heavily wooded conifer forest that has not seen a significant fire event in some time.  This area is (or was) also prime habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl.

M9 Ridgeline Route - Circa 2017

Most of the OHV recreation on this part of the Forest occurs on designated roads with some trail networks in the Doe Peak area that are enjoyed by dirt-bikes, ATVs, SxSs, and 4WDs.  However, the vast majority of motorized recreation opportunity is for street legal dual-sport/ADV motorcycles and 4WDs.  

4WD Route in Hull Fire Footprint - Circa 2016
Mendocino National Forest

According to a Forest Service update today on the August Complex – comprised of the Hull, Doe, Tatham, and Glade fires- it sits at 221,284 acres and has 18 percent containment.


Based on what I know of the fire and the area, the fire appears to have impacted a lot of the heavily wooded areas north of SheetIron Mountain along the M3 corridor, the Doe Peak trail system on the north side of FH7, and many dispersed camping and backcountry touring opportunities along the M2/M4/M9 route network.

Sugar Springs Campground along M4 - Circa 2017
Mendocino National Forest

Let’s hope that as other fires are contained that firefighting resources can be redeployed from those battles to help with the August Complex.

Stay tuned for future updates.


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