Staying Safe Memorial Day Weekend in the National Forests

MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES — With severe storms and heavy snowfall in recent months, some forest areas and sites are closed due to persistent snowpack, flooding, or road damage. Crews are using all available resources to keep these areas open and safe for the public to enjoy.

Image of the United States Forest Service logo.“With the record rainfall, we expect to be busy in our national forests, with visitors excited to get out and enjoy our rivers, lakes and streams this Memorial Day weekend,” said Jim Bacon, director of Public Services for the Pacific Southwest Region. “We want to urge the public to take extra precautions this high water year. Plan ahead, check access, stay safe, and recreate responsibly.”

With closures or delayed openings at popular recreation sites, the USDA Forest Service ask for your patience. They value safety first and offer these tips for everyone to have a positive experience on the national forests:

  • Image of two elk in a meadow in Yosemite Valley.

    Image by Johannes Andersson.

    Before heading into a forest, have an alternate plan. Be open to finding a new favorite area to enjoy. With limited locations in some areas and high usage in others, consider reserving a campground in or call 877-444-6777.

  • Know before you go. Check with local Forest Service offices for closures and alerts. Use forest websites and social media for updates on sites and trails in California’s 18 national forests. It is your responsibility to know the area and any restrictions to areas, roads and trails within the national forests.
  • Pack the essentials. Hikers and campers should always carry essentials, such as navigation, light sources, first aid supplies, weather change clothing, food, water, and a smartphone. We recommend hikers send someone not on the hike a detailed plan of where they plan to travel and the GPS location when they arrive, in case of an emergency.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. There may not be barriers or signs at each closed location. Remember, GPS is not always reliable with current closures and conditions. And doors should never be opened when they are closed, even if the GPS shows the best route through the area. Citations can still be issued even if there are no signs when a forestry order is in place.
  • Be careful of your surroundings. Many campgrounds and hiking trails are near lakes and rivers with changing water conditions. The water could be colder and faster now that the record snowpack is melting. Watch out for winds and avoid areas with standing dead trees. Look up before choosing a trail, parking your car, or setting up camp. And no matter how tempting it may be, don’t park your car illegally and block emergency vehicle access.
Additional update information
  • Image of a pedestrian path through a meadow with a waterfall in the background.

    Image by Kevin Andre.

    Road to nelder grove it is closed at the gate, but people can still park at the gate (not drive on the road) and walk until the end of June when the Fuel Reduction Contract goes into effect and the grove it will be closed Be very careful as there is a lot of downed trees and debris from winter storms.

  • Willow Creek Trail & Lewis Creek Trail they are open and mostly free of obstacles, but the water levels are high and fast.
  • The bridge is still out and Corlieu Falls observation deck on the Lewis Creek Trail.
  • Bass Lake: Goat Mountain Trail, Spring Cove Trail and Camino del Mono Trail They are open and good hiking trails.
  • Chilkoot Camp (above beasore road) and summerdale camp (off Hwy 41 just before Yosemite) should be open for Memorial Day weekend – check
  • USFS is trying to open gray mountain and Soquel SOONER
  • USFS continues to find more damage along logging roads as snow melts. Please make everyone be careful.
  • beasore road: May be open to chilkoot, if the Chilkoot camp opens as expected. Otherwise it is closed.
  • path of the minarets (off North Fork) is closed.
  • sky ranch road is open to a little past nelder grove to turn off.
  • central camp trail and Peckinpah Highway they are also closed.

For additional important information, please refer to the following information update:

Additional Resources on Weather and Planning
  1. California National Forests | contact directory
  2. Caltrans QuickMap: current information on road closures
  3. Meteorological watches, warnings and advisories | National Metereological Service
  4. Turn around, don’t drown |
  5. California Office of Emergency Services | Cal OES
  6. #RecreateResponsibly | water safety

Image of the Visit Yosemite - Madera County logo.For regional events, follow Pacific Southwest Region at Facebook and Twitter. Or search for individual national forests on Twitter.

Also, with May being Water Safety Month, follow these smart reminders about water:

  • Do not enter cold, running water. It can be dangerous for you and the first responders.
  • Never go into the water to rescue a victim. He drops something that floats and calls 9-1-1.
  • Do not drive through high water. Water is usually faster than it seems.

Image of an infographic on water safety.