2018 Top Nine Early Season Morel Spots in Northern California

Morel Madness

UPDATE: 2019 burn maps and updated Burn Morel ebook are now available. Take a Look >

Morel season in California is starting!  In this article we will focus on the best places in Northern California to hunt for Morels in March and April. Finding a good early season morel spot in California this year is difficult. There are SO many fires to choose from. Despite the challenge, we wanted to see if we could find a few places that are worth exploring.

We started by looking at all the forest fire perimeters from the 2017 fire season in California. Since there are so many, we employed a few techniques to narrow them down quickly:

  1. Removed any fires that happened South of Sacramento
  2. Removed fires that weren't on public forest land
  3. Removed fires that were in obviously arid locations
  4. Removed fires that didn't have adequate tree cover
  5. Removed fires in designated wilderness areas

This exercise left us with only about 25 fires with the potentially best environment conditions for burn morels. Certainly there are CA fires removed from our list will sprout mushrooms... (especially fires in Yosemite, Sierra, Sequoia and Stanislaus National Forest)... but here we are focusing only on Northern California.

Next, we looked at the terrain of each fire. We targeted fires that were under 2,500 feet with relatively easy access. This was made easier by creating color gradients. 

This is a sample map that makes elevations below 1,500 feet blue and then creates a purple to yellow gradient up to 2,000 ft. This helps us find spots, like this one, in blue, that is going to be pretty low elevation. This creek bed should pick well in the early season. This really looks like a nice spot! Road access. Creeks running East/West and North/South offering moist areas and all aspects. A bit steep though... so you may have to billy goat some areas.

The elevation check left us with nine "early season" fires. The other 15 fires will produce better in late April, May and June.

The burn areas we found in California started as low as about 800 feet above sea level but were more commonly in the 1500+ elevation zone. Generally speaking, we recommend you:

  1. Focus on the lower elevations earlier in the season and work up as the season progresses. By Memorial Day you could be looking at 4-5K feet in elevation.
  2. Know that morels fruit on North facing slopes a few weeks earlier than South facing slopes.  
  3. Explore a few different elevations/aspects as you scout your fire, looking for the elevation zone where the mushroom are currently fruiting.
  4. Time your trip so that it follows some good rain, and preferably NOT colder than normal weather.

The Good Stuff

If you are new to our blog, you should know that we offer full access to curated 2018 WA, OR, CA & ID Fire Maps (2017 fires) with an e-book called Pacific Northwest Burn Morels. You can purchase access to the digital download and maps here for $39. You must have a Google account to access the maps which were created using Google Maps. With purchase we also include access to more detailed burn information via these types of blogs. Below we have detailed the nine CA fires mentioned above for you to explore.   

If you purchase the e-book & maps you will receive:

Here is a sample of one of our favorite burns detailed in the Members Only part of this post:

Ponderosa Fire. Blue is 1,250 feet. Purples are lower in elevation, Greens are higher in elevation and Yellow is 2,500 feet. (map above shows yellow at 2,000 ft)

Ponderosa Fire: North of Sacramento, Near Oroville.  This fire is featured above in the Picture. Sucker Run Creek is down near 1,250 feet and hopefully Utility Rd 3 is open for cars. This fire looks promising, but might be a bit steep and ...

To access the rest of this post, with the top Nine Spots and their maps, please login below, or,  purchase our $39 Burn Morels Ebook that includes 2018 maps. 



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