M1 - Elk Mountain Road to Lake Pillsbury

full-limited Icon
4.3/5 (6 reviews)
Upper Lake, California (Mendocino County)
Last Updated: 04/15/2023
Trail Types
Scout Route
Full Trail Guide

Preview Trail Icon
Preview Trails

Limited Trail Icon
Upgrade to Unlock
Limited Access/All-Access
Scout Route
Start a 7-day Free Trial

Trail Information


National Forest route M1 (also known as Elk Mountain Road) is the main south-to-north arterial that acts as the "spine" of the Mendocino National Forest. Seemingly endless single-track OHV trails (bikes and quads only) and double-track trails wide enough (and signed for) street-legal 4WD vehicles branch off regularly as you travel along the M1. For this reason we have documented its many intersections as comprehensively as possible, with a waypoint for each one. Note that the "Ranch" fire of 2018 closed many of the trails in this area; the BLM has been working hard to get them reopened, but many of the single-track OHV-only trails are still closed for repair.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Check out our Knoxville Devilhead Road (52.01 mi away) trail guide for an All-Access Preview!

Trail Reviews

4.3/5 (6)
User Avatar
Official Crew
inline-aa Icon
Temporary Closure
Visited: 04/15/2023

M1 to Lake Pillsbury is currently closed due to a landslide. There is also currently deep snow at higher elevations.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/26/2021
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Drove this trail on the way to the connecting hull mountain trail. Was in good condition, and a few 'side quest' roads were open too. Tons of motorbike / ohv opportunities
User Avatar
Visited: 04/16/2021

M1 was easy as described and weather had been beautiful so 4WD or high clearance wasn't even necessary but did make for a nicer drive. Much of the forest is scarred from the awful fires but beauty can still be found all around. We ended up staying at Lake Pillsbury for the weekend. It's an improved campground for $10/night and amenities included tables, fire rings and bathrooms. The camp filled up by Friday night and emptied out by Sunday so our extra stay through Monday was very peaceful. Nice campground with ample space between sites. Normally there's water at the campground but water wasn't available this particular weekend so good thing we brought our own. We saw a herd of elk in the early AM on Monday. M1 continues much further north to the Eel River but we didn't have the time to explore beyond the lake.
Trail Review: M1 - Elk Mountain Road to Lake Pillsbury - Byron Hay
Trail Review: M1 - Elk Mountain Road to Lake Pillsbury - Byron Hay
View More Images
User Avatar
inline-aa Icon
Rated 5/5
Visited: 08/01/2020

Fun and easy trail. All dirt road. Went for the weekend and ending up camping at pogie point.
Rated 4/5
Visited: 05/22/2020

Basic dirt road, well graded. One of the better access roads to get to Lake Pillsbury and MNF

From the Community

Start a free trial and get this level of detail on every trail guide
Start Free Trial