Mad River Campground

Ruth Lake
Six Rivers National Forest


Six Rivers National Forest


Six Rivers National Forest
Attractions and Activities

Visitors to the Six Rivers National Forest find a variety of wonderful places to explore. Campers at Mad River Campground are only 4 miles from scenic Ruth Lake.

Ruth Lake Events

  • Ruth Lake Bass Tournaments in early May and early June
  • Kids' Free Fishing Derby in May
  • Annual Ruth Lake Summer Festival on Labor Day weekend
  • Ruth Lake Events

Six Rivers National Forest

  • Head out mountain biking on the Barry Creek Trail.
  • Fish along the Eel River and the Van Duzen River.
  • Hike along any of more than a dozen great trails in the area such as Bailey Canyon Campground Trail, Lost Creek Trail, and Devils Backbone Trail.
  • Have some fun on some OHV trail rides such as the Barry Creek Trail, Devils Backbone Trail, and Skull Camp Trail.
  • Fish, raft, and kayak along the Salmon River, designated as a Scenic and Recreational River. Take advantage of the Ti Bar River Access.
  • Saddle up for trail rides from the Bell Swamp Trail, Graveyard Prairie Trail, Oregon Creek Trail, and a dozen others.
  • Get your thrills river rafting on the On the Klamath River with an experienced rafting company: River Country Rafting, Klamath River Rafting

Nearby Campgrounds

Six Rivers National Forest Campgrounds


Ruth Lake Campgrounds


Trinity River Campgrounds


Key Mad River Campground Regulations

  1. Keep food and scented items in a secure place so that bears cannot get to them.
  2. Dogs must be on leash and attended at all times.
  3. Fires are only allowed in provided fire rings.
  4. To prevent the spread of invasive pests, obtain firewood locally.

Mad River Campground

Mad River Campground is in the southern portion of Six Rivers National Forest, southeast of Eureka and only 4 miles north of Ruth Lake. Visitors to the campground usually make the short trip up to Ruth Lake for the day, taking advantage of the boating, waterskiing, fishing, and swimming opportunities there.

Mad River Campground offers 40 campsites on a bluff overlooking the Mad River. Oaks, manzanita, and Douglas fir provide good shade for the sites. All the campsites can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents. Most campsites can be reserved while a few are kept available as first-come, first-served sites. Faucets for filling water tanks are located at the first set of restrooms between campsites 26 and 27.

Driving Directions

Mad River Campground Basics
Mad River Campground Location: Mad River Road, 5 miles south of the community of Mad River
Elevation: 2,550 feet
Mileage and driving times from gateway cities: Fortuna -57 miles, 1:23
Eureka - 73 miles, 1:42 minutes
Red Bluff - 92 miles, 2:02
Number of Sites: 40
Open - Closed: May through mid-September
Max. People per Site: 8 (including children)
Vehicles per Site: 1 (fee for additional vehicle)
Pets: on leash, always attended
Mad River Ranger District: (707) 574-6233

Reservations for Mad River Campground
Reservations Available Reservations can be made from 4 days up to 6 months in advance of arrival.
Some sites may be available first-come, first-served.
Maximum RV/trailer Length: 22 feet
Wheelchair Accessible Sites: #15, 18, 19, 26, 28, 31, 35
Fees: $12 per night
Reservations: Mad River Campground Reservations
Check-in, check-out: 2:00 PM, 2:00 PM

Mad River Campground Amenities
Campsites: Picnic table, fire ring with grill; no hook-ups
Campground: Vault toilets, tap water
Showers: No
Dump station: No
Supplies available in - Mad River Store, 5 miles north on Hwy. 36
- Journey's End store near the Ruth Lake Marina

- Dinsmore, 11½ miles NW on Hwy. 36
Attractions near Mad River Campground: Fish the Mad River for trout. Head up the road to Ruth Lake for boating, boat rentals, waterskiing, fishing, and swimming. Hike on the Bailey Vista and Lakeview trails which start from Fir Cove, or the Picket Peak Trail which starts from Bailey Canyon. Fish Ruth Lake for rainbow trout, large & smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill. Enjoy a meal at Journey's End Diner.

Ruth Lake

Seven-mile-long Ruth Lake was formed by a dam on the Mad River. The lake is operated by the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. Ruth Lake Community Services District manages many of the recreation facilities around the lake, including several campgrounds. Two other campgrounds - Bailey Canyon Campground and Fir Cove Campground - are managed by the Six Rivers National Forest.

The lake is popular with boaters, water skiers, anglers, and swimmers. Visitors enjoy warm summers and cool springs and falls. Facilities at the lake include a marina with boat rentals, a store, and two boat ramps. Boat Inspections are required before being launched into the lake.

Driving Directions

When coming north on Hwy 101, skip the turn-off at the Zenia Road exit at Garberville. Using the Zenia Road will result in a 2-hour delay driving on winding back roads. Instead, continue north until you reach the Hwy. 36 exit near Fortuna. Turn right, heading east for approximately an hour until you reach the town of Mad River. After you cross the bridge at the Mad River, look for the Mad River Road turn-off on the right. The sign will say Ruth Lake. Continue for 10 minutes to reach the Mad River Campground.

For those coming from Interstate 5, in Red Bluff, go west on Highway 36 for about 2 hours. Watch for the Ruth Lake and Mad River Road turn.

Ruth Lake Campground Map< Trinity County, CA

General Camping Information

Opening and closing dates of campgrounds are only estimates, usually dependent on snow conditions. Not all campsites can accommodate trailers or RVs of all lengths. Check carefully on the website when you make your reservation to be sure your vehicle will fit your campsite.

In order to prevent the spread of invasive insects, obtain firewood locally.

Accessible Sites

Designated Accessible sites are usually reserved for people with disabilities who have a vehicle displaying an accessible parking placard or license plate. At campgrounds with many accessible sites, campers are often asked to choose other sites unless all other sites are full. In those cases, accessible sites may be available for general use.


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