California National Forests Closed to Bikers (And Everyone Else) Through September 18, 2021

View from the new singletrack trail @ Downieville Classic. photo: Jason Liske

The Pacific Southwest Region of the US Forest Service is closing recreational access to all National Forests in California, with the exception of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, starting today due to ongoing and potential future wild fires. The closure applies to all forms of recreation, including mountain biking.

In a press release, Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien says, “We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety. It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.”

The Forest Service says the closure is to ensure the safety of visitors, to prevent new fires from starting, and to make it easier for firefighters to do their jobs. Unfortunately, the forecast is for conditions to remain the same or get worse through late summer and into the fall.

Although the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what is different is that we are facing: (a) record level fuel and fire conditions; (b) fire behavior that is beyond the norm of our experience and models such as large, quick runs in the night; (c) significantly limited initial attack resources, suppression resources, and Incident Command Teams to combat new fire starts and new large fires; and (d) no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall.

USDA Forest Service press release

There are some exemptions to the closures, though they appear to be extremely limited. Bottom line: Plan on finding somewhere else to ride mountain bikes at least until the closures lift September 18, 2021.

List of affected forest units (from LAist):

  1. Angeles National Forest
  2. Cleveland National Forest
  3. Inyo National Forest
  4. Klamath National Forest
  5. Lassen National Forest
  6. Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
  7. Los Padres National Forest
  8. Mendocino National Forest
  9. Modoc National Forest
  10. Plumas National Forest
  11. Sequoia National Forest
  12. San Bernardino National Forest
  13. Shasta-Trinity National Forest
  14. Sierra National Forest
  15. Six Rivers National Forest
  16. Stanislaus National Forest
  17. Tahoe National Forest