Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Winter hiking option. Solitude. Great views.

Cons

Hot in summer. Little shade.

Trailhead Elevation

2,049.00 ft (624.54 m)

Net Elevation Gain

-908.00 ft (-276.76 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Geologically significant

Suitable for

Horseback

Location

Field Guide

Comments

06/11/2016
My sister and I did this hike. We started early to avoid the heat. Beautiful views of the Sac. Valley on the first part of the trail. Good view of Lassen Peak on this day.
Rock formations and the gorge at the end are pretty awesome.
Relatively easy hike, mostly down hill on the way in - which you know means mostly up-hill on the way out. :)
Trail is very clear and easy to follow and switch backed well in the steeper sections.
Definitely going back in the fall when it is cooler so the dogs can come with me.
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