North Yolla Bolly is one of the highest peaks in the southern Klamath Mountains of northern California. Once at the trailhead, it is readily accessible & besides its exciting name (of native American origins), offers a wonderful forested mountain setting, good camping, & superb summit views to boot.
North Yolla Bolly is in mountainous and heavily forested Trinity County, which is 75% federally owned. With an area of 3,223 square miles, Trinity County is the size of both Rhode Island and Delaware put together. It has, however, a population of only 15,000, no stop lights, and no incorporated towns. The closest notable population centres of Redding & Eureka lie 74 & 102 (approximate driving) miles away from the trailhead. All of these factors put North Yolla Bolly officially within the boundaries of The Middle of Nowhere. It is also located in a designated wilderness area (Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness Area), keeping the RV-drivers & Ahwahnee-dwellers on the exclusive US National Parks circuit, back-country off-road enthusiasts (& their machines), & the droves that that return to nearby Mt. Shasta year after year without exploring any of the other myriad wonders that the region offers, away. What this means to visitors is that they will find serenity and seclusion in this region seldom found in California’s other mountain regions.
North Yolla Bolly is secluded & seldom visited for a reason- compared with California’s metropolitan areas, it’s in the middle of nowhere- the closest population bases worth mentioning are Redding & Eureka, 74 & 123 miles away from the trailhead, respectively. If one is coming from any of California’s metropolitan areas, merely getting to North Yolla Bolly is definitely the crux of the climb. Gas is available in Wildwood (Mon-Saturday except for during deer season, when it is open 7 days/week) & Platina- check hours.
Approaches from the E & the W are as follows:
Ia. From the East (Redding):
Take the Platina Rd (aka County Road A16) 41miles west to Platina. From Platina, go another 11 miles W along California Route 36 (1/4 mile past the Hayfork Creek bridge), & turn L (south) onto Forest Road 30.
Ib. From the East (Red Bluff):
Take California Route 36 west for 46 miles to reach Platina. From Platina, go another 11 miles west to the intersection with Forest Road 30.
Ic. From the West:
From Alton (approximately 20 miles south of Eureka), take Highway 36 approximately 81(!) miles east to the intersection with Forest Road 30 (also 34.2 miles east of the gas station in Mad River).
II. From the Highway 36-Forest Road 30 intersection:
· Go south on Forest Road 30 8.8 miles to the Pine Root Saddle (5,018 ft)- Forest Road 30 is a good 2 lane paved highway.
· Take a L onto Forest Road 35, a rougher paved road, in places only 1-1.5 ‘lanes.’ Take this 11.3 miles to Stuart Gap. Sections of the road may be covered by fallen trees early in the season (often they can be bypassed at the edge of the road, however). Call the ranger station to make sure the road is passable during your intended visit.
· From Stuart Gap, go straight (as the sign indicates) to the Stuart Gap trailhead. This last stretch of road is 2 miles long on a good dirt road, mostly 1 car wide.
· The trailhead is indicated by a sign. Take a right, where the road does a loop. The trail starts before the loop. Within the loop is a restroom & a primitive campsite.
To use a fire, a burn permit must be obtained during certain parts of the year above 6,000’ (after July 4th for 2005). To check, information for fire restrictions & conditions may be found @:
· 530.226.2457, or
· 866.242.9941 (toll free)
No wilderness permits are required for the Yolly Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. While there are bears (& mountain lions) present, no bear canisters are required(a good example why it's a good idea to use them, however)
- just store your food appropriately (i.e. away from you while you sleep; if you don’t
have a bear canister, using the counter-balance method might
be successful for keeping your food yours).
Dogs are allowed in the wilderness area as long as they're kept on a leash.
When To Climb
Most of the snow on the mountain & trail should be gone by mid-June of most years. Expect to do some route-finding on the snow before then. Summer climbing conditions for a standard year would be mid-June until the first snowfall, probably not later than early November. Call the ranger station to ensure there is access.
Later in the season water can be the limiting factor- many of the seasonal streams (good for easy water in the early season) dry up, leaving few reliable sources of water. There is purportedly a reliable water source (flowing from a pipe) available .5 mile east of the trail junction at the saddle between North Yolla Bolly & Black Rock Mountain (as well as a campsite & meadow), 2.5 miles from the trailhead- follow the sign for Yolla Bolly Station Spring.
There are multiple pullouts on Forest Road 35 where you could pull off & no-one would hassle you. There are also multiple places to camp at the trailhead. There are various places to camp on flat ground within the first mile of the trailhead. After that the slopes become fairly steep & sustained, making for fewer options.
Two good camping options are as follows:
· North Yolla Bolly Lake offers good camping at the base of the peak- From the trailhead, cross a (possibly seasonal) drainage at approximately 1 mile. Go L when the trail forks shortly thereafter, then go approximately another 5 minutes, where you will see the sign indicating the side trail leading to North Yolla Bolly Lake (left from the main trail)
· Take the main trail from the trailhead. As described above, cross a potentially seasonal stream at approximately 1 mile from the trailhead. Take a L at the trail fork. Continue on the main trail past the turn-off to North Yolla Bolly Lake. At 2.5 miles there will be a trail junction on the saddle between Black Rock Mountain & North Yolla Bolly- take a L, heeding the sign indicating ‘North Yolla Bolly Station Spring.’ At .5 mile, there should be a meadow, campsite, & potable water coming from a pipe. This location is also very close to the summit!
Calling the ranger station would be your best bet for determining actual conditions on the mountain. Here is the weather.com forecast for Platina weather conditions.
If you are fortunate enough to have good viewing conditions upon your arrival at the summit of North Yolla Bolly, you will be presented with a spectacular vista: The mountain ranges & peaks visible from the summit are:
· the rest of the Klamath Mountains, including Mt. Eddy
& the magnificent Trinity Alps, to the north;
· the coast ranges to the west & south;
· the Cascades, including Lassen Peak
& great Mt. Shasta
, to the northeast; &
· the Sacramento Valley & Sierra Nevada beyond to the east
Yolla Bolly (YOH luh boh lee) is derived from the Wintu yoola buli,
meaning “snow mountain.”
· USDA Forest Service Site (well-done)
· Yolla Bolly Ranger District
2555 State Highway 36 (halfway between Platina & the route 36/Forest Road 30)
Platina, CA 96076
Open year-round M-F: 8.00 – 16.00
· 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California by John R. Soares & Marc J. Soares; 2000; The Mountaineers; ISBN 0-89886-702-9
YolaBolaJohn adds this-
The camp with water from a pipe just below the summit of north Yolla Bolly is called Utahs Pasture, my dad put the pipe in 1960. The Yolla Bolly Spring is through Cedar Basin and left at 6,000 ft. a mile to Yolla Bolly Spring, also an old guard station where livestock were kept to fight fires early 1900's.