Bigfoot  Trail  Alliance

Bigfoot Trail Begins

Northern California’s Coast Range

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Where the Bigfoot Trail begins — the “gateway”

Mount Linn–also called South Yolla Bolly Mountain–is the highest point in the Coast Range of northern California and where the Bigfoot Trail begins. It is located to the west of Corning but the area might as well be a world away from the population centers of the state; it is rarely noticed by travelers as they drive Interstate 5. Once off the interstate, scenic forest service roads still take nearly 2 hours to wind to the trailhead. I revisited this fine mountain in July of 2016 to set up a photo-monitoring plot along the Bigfoot Trail and took the time to also map the vegetation on the mountain–particularly the grove of foxtail pines near the summit. This is one of the smallest (12 acres) and most isolated groves for the entire species and one that I am very much concerned about due to climate change. Shasta firs are encroaching upon the trees as snowpack declines and temperatures warm. I was happy to see the trees doing well and many young foxtails sprouting up–just not as many as there are young firs.

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A view from Mount Linn toward the Pacific Ocean and the distant King Range.

Forest Vegetation of Mount Linn — where the Bigfoot Trail Begins

Below is a map showing the forest alliances in the upper elevations of the mountain, generally above 7,000′. The darkest green on the eastern part of the ridge is the 12 acre foxtail pine grove, that will be discussed in more detail later in the blog.

Forested Vegetation of Mount Linn

Forested Vegetation of Mount Linn

Shasta Fir Alliance
Pure forests of Shasta Fir (Abies magnifica ssp. shastensis) are common on flatter benches.

Pure forests of Shasta fir (Abies magnifica ssp. shastensis) are common on flatter benches.

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Western White Pine – Shasta Fir Alliance
Western white pine (pinus monticola) and Shasta fir mixed forest is common on the steeper north-facing slopes.

Western white pine (Pinus monticola) and Shasta fir mixed forest is common on the steeper north-facing slopes.

A high intesity burn from 2008 has opened up small pockets in the Shasta fir - western white pine forests.

A high intensity burn from 2008 has opened up small pockets in the Shasta fir – western white pine forests.

Jeffrey Pine Alliance
Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyii) are common on the upper south-facing slopes.

Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyii) are common on the upper south-facing slopes (photo from 2009).

Status of the 12 acre Foxtail Pine grove – Foxtail Pine Alliance

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This is the foxtail pine grove, all 12 glorious acres of it, with scattered western white pine and Shasta fir, which are becoming more common.

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The heart of the grove.

Quintessential foxtail pine grove -- with well spaced trees and sparse understory.

Quintessential foxtail pine grove — with well spaced trees and sparse understory.

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This rocky, north-facing bench is full of new seedlings which now have a longer growing season due to lack of summer snowpack.

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Another view from the other side of the basin–look at all those young firs!

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Young Shasta fir recruitment under an old foxtail pine.

Selected herbaceous plants

Other Resources
  • Dustin Boone

    Nice article. Very informative, especially the map. Good to know that the Foxtails are doing well, but definitely worrisome on how climate change could be harmful to them. I’m bummed I didn’t make it up there this spring, since it was a better snowpack than the previous couple winters provided.

    • Michael Kauffmann

      Hey Dustin- Snow was still lingering up there, enough for a 75 foot sleigh ride! Love that mountain as much as you…