Hiking to find Forest Fire Morels – Maps & Tips

Burn Morel Outlook

There are fewer large, destination fires to burn morel hunt this year – overall the fires tend to be smaller. Notwithstanding Canada, it was a friendlier forest fire year for the West then most! However, there’s still plenty of opportunity and lots of fires to choose from.

Hikers Have More Opportunities

The gist of this post conveys a simple truth: the farther you get from a parking spot, the more likely you are to find un-picked forest. I would guess that 90% of morel pickers are unwilling to hike 2-3 miles before they start looking for morels.

2024 year is a good year to do map study and research your burn morel zones carefully. Because the West was fortunate to have fewer large fires than in many past years, fires are smaller and some less accessible. Good news for the hiking forager! If you are willing to hike a few miles into a fire, or to a fire, the rewards can fill your baskets.

Ready to get in on the hunt? Grab your 2024 Burn Morel Maps today.

Hike and Bushwhack in Montana’s Bruce Fire

The Bruce Fire in Montana is an “A” rated fire with 3700 acres. The Eastern (and lower) elevation area of the fire has lots of access. There is some very nice territory on the Western side, especially in the headwaters of Stony Creek, however it’s tougher to access.  The intrepid picker would need to get to the end of road #2827 and then bushwhack uphill, up Stony Creek, for a bout half a mile and then would have probably hundreds of acres of forest to themselves. Realistically, road #2827 might be closed which would require even more hiking. It looks like a nice place to be in July probably.

Because accessibility is such an important factor, we often have superb fires hidden in the B and even C categories because they require bushwhacking or a several mile hike into (usually more than a 2 or 3 miles hike-in pushes you to C)

3 Mile Hike into Excellent territory in Idaho

The Little Bear Fire (and nearby West Fork Fire) in Idaho is a good example – we rated it a “C” fire even though it is 1200 acres and has some nice forest.  To access there is a several mile hike on Foot Trail #49 (Clearwater National Forest). This is the same foot trail to the Jerry Johnson Springs.  

Massive California Hike-in Fire

The Pearch fire in Northern California spreads across 12K acres. The Eastern half of the fire has some road access. The Western half though is only accessible by foot, offering a huge area that is going to be exclusively available to hikers!

Utah Hike Fire

The Thompson Ridge fire in Utah goes from 7.8K to 10.5K Feet in elevation offering an excellent hunting season well into summer if the precipitation happens. Get your hiking boots ready though, because this is a walk-in fire and it seems to have some sprawl.

Colorado Public Property Hike

Sometimes you have to hike in because of private property. The Lowline fire in Colorado is a great example. It has a lot of territory in the 9-10K range. The fire is 1900 acres and 1850 of that is forested. However 600 acres are private, including the access roads. We report total acreage, forested acreage, public acreage and elevation range for each burn.  

Hikers Find Mushrooms

In past years we have hiked miles to get after burn morels in virgin terrain. Last year we hunted the Moose Fire in Idaho, near Salmon. I have never seen more pickers in a fire. We had to use our maps and get deeper in to find fresh spots. In the end there were plenty of morels for everyone in this huge firescape, but we certainly put our boots to work. The reward is often well worth the effort, there is nothing like finding your own sweet honey hole of pristine morels to fill your bags in short order. Make sure you prepare accordingly for a hike day – bring food and water, rain gear in case, and most importantly a way to map yourself back to your car.  

Ready to get in on the hunt? Grab your 2024 Burn Morel Maps today. Hope to see you out there!




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