The easiest trailhead for North Yolla Bolly is accessed from Hwy 36. Hwy 36 is a crooked road that runs between Red Bluff and Fortuna. The access road that you turn on is about half way between these two towns and is located near the metropolis of Wildwood. From Hwy 36, turn south on Forest Road 30 which is also called Wild Mad Road. I think this road is signed for Stuart Gap at this point and this is good since the trailhead is just a few miles past Stuart Gap. This is a good paved road that follows Hayfork Creek for several miles.
In about 8.5 miles you reach a pass and Road 35 forks to the left or east. Road 35 is paved also although it is narrower than Road 30. This intersection is signed and indicates it is 11 miles to Stuart Gap and also the road is closed because of landslides at that point. Don’t worry, the trailhead road is open.
In 11 miles you reach Stuart Gap. There are several forks in the road here and the pavement ends. Go straight ahead through this busy intersection and take road 28N62 to the trailhead. There is a sign here that says it is 2 miles to the trailhead. This gravel road is in good condition and 2WD is ok.
At 1.8 miles from Stuart Gap there is a sign that indicated the trailhead is to the right. Take this for .2 of a mile to the end of the road. There is a vault toilet at the end in the middle of the loop. The trail head starts at the beginning of the loop on the south side. The trailhead isn’t marked very well, but it is the only trail I could find. If you are up at the horse corrals, come back down the road to the beginning of the loop.
You cannot see North Yolla Bolly from the trailhead. The trail to North Yolla Bolly has recently been maintained and is in great condition. Our tax dollars or dedicated volunteers have been busy. The trail heads directly south towards North Yolla Bolly and soon you enter the Yolla Bolly – Middle Eel Wilderness. The scenery is beautiful and you can make good time going up this trail.
In a little more than a mile, the trail forks. It is not signed here but take the left fork. A few hundred yards beyond this fork is another fork. This one is signed and you want to keep going straight on the right fork. Left goes to North Yolla Bolly Lake. At this point you can see North Yolla Bolly ahead and to the left and you can also see a little pass to the straight ahead on a ridgeline. If you follow the ridgeline out to the right you can see a lookout on Black Rock. If you have time and energy after North Yolla Bolly, you can visit the lookout if you wish.
Continue up the trail towards the ridgeline. The trail does several switch backs before you get up to the pass on the ridgeline. On the ridgeline the trail continues straight over to destinations beyond and it also forks to go to the lookout. There is a cairn just beyond the fork to the lookout and this marks the trail to the summit of North Yolla Bolly. This trail is a little obscure, but soon becomes a good trail that heads east towards your objective. The trail traverses north of point 2382. It goes through a beautiful camp spot in a little basin at the foot of NorthYolla Bolly. The trail continues beyond the camp spot and climbs to the ridge between North Yolla Bolly and point 2382.
Here the trail seems to end, but that is not a problem. The ridgeline only has a few trees, a few rocks, and is mostly grass and wildflower covered. Just follow the ridge line up to the summit.
Return to the trailhead the same way you came up. Total hike is about 7.5 miles with about 2,100 ft of elevation gain. My total time was about 3.5 hours. Plenty of time left to see the lookout or the lake on you way back to the car.
As always take the 10 essential. In the summer, this is an easy hike with no particular technical problems. A map and GPS are always a good idea. Water is available from several small springs along the route.
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