The 10, 571 acre Sanhedrin Wilderness was established in 2006 by Public Law 109-362, the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act. The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme council of the ancient Hebrews and the imposing ridge that crowns this Wilderness was named after that high council. The terrain in this area is moderately steep and rugged. The Wilderness is managed by the Forest Service, but includes areas of private land.
Elevations in the Wilderness vary from 6,175 feet at Big Signal peak to 1,600 along Thomas Creek. The major creeks in the area drain westward to the Eel River. Soils are moderately to highly erodible, and an unstable fault zone transects the Rocky Point-Ascherman Ranch area.
Trails in the Sanhedrin
Developed trails do not exist within the Sanhedrin at this time, providing a truly untrammeled Wilderness experience. The only public access point for this area is by the Lookout on Big Signal Peak at the end of Forest Road 20N04. From this location, visitors can enjoy off trail hunting, hiking, and camping activities.
Although you may come across an old road or cattle trail while visiting the Sanhedrin, no managed trails existed upon designation of the Wilderness. Employees and wilderness stewardship volunteers have begun to identify potential opportunities to designate and maintain foot and horse trails in the Sanhedrin for future use and enjoyment.
We recommend that when visiting the area you bring the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5-minute topographic maps that cover the region: USGS maps for the Sanhedrin Wilderness include Sanhedrin Mountain, Brushy Mountain, Foster Mountain, and Van Arsdale Reservoir.
The Sanhedrin Wilderness is home to the threatened northern spotted owl. The area contains substantial acreages of suitable nesting and denning habitat for the northern spotted owl, marten, fisher, and goshawk. Reproduction of spotted owl and goshawk has been documented in remnant patches of mature forest which survived the Mendenhall fire of 1987. Both Whitney and Thomas Creeks support resident trout and threatened steelhead. Black bear, deer, and mountain lions are also residents of the Wilderness.