Jackson Demonstration State Forest was formed in 1947, when the state of California bought it from the Caspar Lumber Company. JDSF is the largest state forest, comprising 50,000 acres of the Big River and Noyo watersheds, covered by Douglas fir and redwood trees. The Demonstration Forest is intended to be a working forest, whose primary goal is to demonstrate sustained production of timber, while maintaining soil, water, scenic, wildlife, and recreational values. Active logging is currently suspended during a court case over the plan for the forest.
There are several main campsites, including equestrian camps. The forest is a maze of roads and trails, accessible by truck, mountain bike, horse, or foot. Respect the locked gates.
There are a number of interesting areas within the forest, and here are a couple of favorites:
- Chamberlain Creek Waterfall : tucked away in a grove of virgin redwood trees, this waterfall is a lovely find. It’s an easy hike once you get there, but it is about 6 miles off Highway 20 on a dirt road.
- Forest History Trail : this hike traverses several ridges, dropping down to the Mendocino Woodlands State Park, and then back up to the ridge top. There’s even an observation point at the highest point, but it’s mostly overgrown with surrounding trees. This is a great hike. It’s also a starting point for hardcore mountain bikers, who drop down into Manly Gulch and the Woodlands from the trail.
If you want to know more about activities in the forest, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection maintains an office (with some great maps) in Fort Bragg at 802 N. Main St (Highway One). 707-964-5674