The trail to Thomes Gorge is found in the sparsely populated eastern foothills of California's Coast Range. Thomes Creek tumbles out of the Mendocino National Forest and passes through the gorge as if it was a gate into the Northern Sacramento Valley. This trip is certainly worth the effort as it combines very interesting scenery with unique geology, botany, and history.
The trail begins in the thick of a chaparral plant community; an ecosystem including chamise, manzanita, and yerba santa that becomes increasingly rare this far north. The trail wraps around a few rock outcroppings that provide a great view of the surrounding foothills. On a clear day, Lassen Peak is visible to the northeast.
In about a mile and a quarter in from the trailhead you pass Mud Flat Road. This is a section of the historical Nome Cult Trail, also known as the Koncow Trail of Tears. In 1863, Native Americans from the Sacramento Valley were forced to march over 100 miles from Chico to Round Valley on a route that passes the present day trail.
Water is available at the Bowers Creek crossing 2.3 miles into the hike. The trail continues through brushy areas impacted by fire before skirting Dead Rabbit Pond, a seasonal vernal pool. The majority of elevation change occurs during the last mile as you descent toward Thomes Creek. The trail ends underneath the gaze of an impressive rock formation that towers over the gorge and nearby gravel beaches. The local geology here showcases metemorphic rocks from an exposed section of the Franciscan Assemblage, the formation responsible for much of the terrain of the California Coast Ranges. A good campsite can be found on the south side of the creek.