Elk Mountain


Location: 8 mi N of Upper Lake. DeLorme 75 B5 

Google Earth Placemark file: If you have Google Earth installed on your computer (it’s free),
click this link to import a collection of placemarks for this site into Google Earth.

Elevation and Coordinates:
Launch: 4100′ MSL, N 39º 16′ 37″ W 122º 56′ 27″
LZ: 1500′ MSL N 39º 15′ 47″ W 122º 57′ 69″

Driving Directions: Take highway 101 North to Highway 20 (12 miles north of Ukiah). Exit Highway 20 East to Upper Lake (about 15-20 min.). Take a left on Main Street, which turns into Middle Creek Road before turning into Elk Mountain Road. You can turn left anywhere in Upper Lake and it will lead you to Elk Mountain Road. The LZ is at Middle Creek Campground (on the right) in the Mendocino National Forest at the end of the valley, just before you start up the hill to launch. From the LZ, drive north up the paved road to the highest point. Turn West (left) onto the steep and gnarly 4WD dirt road to launch (20 – 30 minutes).

Usage/Requirements: Hang Gliding and Paragliding. Some supervision for H2/P2 is suggested. No prior notification, sign-offs or fees required.

Launches: SSW or NW, two launches. The north launch should not be used by H2/P2 unless under direct supervision of instructor. Very rough 4WD road to top, good vehicle ground clearance recommended. The launch and the primary LZ is on National Forest land. The road to launch off Elk Mountain Road crosses private land. We have permission to use the road; motorcycles do NOT.

Landing: The main LZ is the creek bed by the visitor’s center and campground, but gliders often land further south where winds tend to be more predictable and less turbulent. See “cautions”.

Season: Flying is best in the spring and fall. It is flyable in the winter, if the road is accessible. Be especially careful midday when it is HOT, the LZ can be very hazardous. Elk is not flown much in mid-summer when the LZ gets hot and very turbulent to land in during the middle of the day.

Ratings: Elk is on public land and no ratings are required, though H3/P3 is recommended. H2/P2 with instructor or supervision. Good site for H2/P2 first high altitude flights in spring or fall.

Flying: Mostly thermal flying. Ridge soarable in sufficient wind. Winds often start out from the south in the morning then switch to north or northwest by the afternoon. If the marine airmass moves in, winds often go west, which can make for difficult launch conditions and mediocre flying. Thermals to 7000 – 8000ft, rarely to 9000ft. Elk is a good XC site, but you must be familiar with the routes and LZs.

Cautions: The road to the top can be very rough. Good 4WD is needed. The North launch faces away from the LZ – novices must be aware not to get low in front of this launch before turning left and flying around the shoulder of the hill towards the LZ. All LZs are along the creek which is in a fairly steep canyon. Winds are not usually strong in the LZ but they can be very switchy and in summer it can be very turbulent.
There are new (Aug. ’06) power lines in the “Alternate LZ” which is just past the main LZ around the first bend in the creek bed. If you head toward Upper Lake down the creek bed be aware of other power lines that cross the creek bed.
Watch for dirt bikes when landing in the primary LZ.
Do not land in the grassy field (“the thistle field”), land in the creek bed to the east. Avoid power lines a bit south of the thistle field. Be careful about crossing private land without permission when getting out of the creek bed (find the road south of the thistle field). 

Facilities: There is camping in the LZ, Middle Creek Campground, with vault toilets, running water and paved campsites ($10 per night plus $2 for extra vehicles). Cell coverage is spotty at the campground. There is lodging in Upper Lake (Super 8), Nice (rhymes with “geese”) and Lucerne. Upper Lake has groceries, gas, and restaurants/pizza.

Parking: There is plenty of parking at launch and in the LZ.

Radio Information: 147.495 MHz. (Sonoma Wings drive frequency)

Emergency: The nearest hospitals are in Ukiah and Clearlake. The closest telephone is in Upper Lake. Some cell phones work in the LZ and most work at launch.

On the west side of Clear Lake, on Scotts Valley Rd. is a field owned by Elizabeth Wise. 
Ms Wise has asked us to not land on her property. She has threatened to call the Sheriff if you do.

If you go as far as White Rock Mt., near Blue Lakes, on your way around Clear Lake, you may find yourself flying along Scotts Valley Rd. Ms Wise’s field is the first landable field as you leave the hills. If you’re getting low, it would be tempting to land there. Please don’t. Check this page for maps of her field. so that you’ll know what to avoid.

The locals are generally very friendly, but use common sense, be courteous, and don’t climb over fences.