Location: Mendocino National Forest. Near Stonyford, CA. Delorme 75 A7. South Launch – 39 25.456N, 122 41.354W.
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: South Launch – 6300ft MSL. LZs approx. 1200ft MSL.
Driving Directions: From Maxwell exit on I5 (near Williams), go west to Stonyford. Or, from Highway 20 take Bear Valley dirt road north to Lodoga, then follow directions to Stonyford. From Stonyford, go west on M10, turn right at Fouts Springs, follow signs to top, – about 12 miles. Road is steep, dirt, rough, 4WD advised. 1 hour to the top.
- South launch: Nice, big set-up area. Dirt ramp, out over shallow rocky bowl, somewhat set back. Winds are usually light. Watch for movement of big pine tree out in front. Typically winds will be crossing slightly from left, and this is OK, but be much more cautious if there is any degree of right cross. (If winds are consistently crossing from the right you may want to check out the more west facing “west” launch, 1/3 mile north). Launches are not difficult, but good aggressive flat slope launch technique is required. Wait for a good cycle. Not recommended in no wind.
- West Launch: Steep shale slope near peak. Easy with a little wind, but beware cross from the right. There is an East launch 200 yards south of the West launch. It’s not difficult, though shallow, but is very intimidating and is seldom used.
- Potato Hill: Primarily used by paragliders. 6 miles south of St. John.
Landing: Most flights at St John are XC. Winds out in the valley are variable but are usually light SE though NE. Carry landing streamers. The first bailout beyond Fout’s is a set of three round looking fields north of the Visitors’ Center. These are big enough, but brushy in places and you have to walk your glider up to the top of a ridge to get out of these fields (don’t drive into the fields). It’s usually pretty easy to glide out to Stonyford but there are no good bail-outs between the Visitors’ Center and town. There are 2 insured LZs in town, land by the store. Please do not land short of town. Don’t land on Flying S or Pendel property. Landing at East Park Reservoir is ok again – you must pay an $8 per car entry fee, landing at the Dolphin is recommended. You can also land at Fouts Springs where the paragliders land. It’s ok to land at the Fouts Boys Camp, which is now closed. Generally, landowners to the north are friendly, but use common sense, don’t land in fields with horses, don’t climb over fences, don’t drive into fields, etc. Use courtesy at all times.
Season: Summer/Fall only (road may be snowed in until May or later).
Ratings: This site is on public land, and thus no ratings are required to launch, but common sense must prevail. St. John is generally considered to be a H4 site. H3s with good mountain flying experience can fly here, but it could be very risky to do so without a site introduction from a pilot who knows the site well. You must be a USHPA member to use the insured LZs in town. Paragliders have flown from St John but the consensus is that it’s not advisable and pilots should be P4. Paragliders normally use nearby Potato Hill.
Flying: Usually great thermal flying – very consistent. It can be rough – big mountain air, often to 10,000 – 12,000 MSL or higher, 14,000 MSL is the record. The “house thermal” is over the switchbacks east of launch. Good XC site, but it’s strongly advised that you and your driver familiarize yourself with the roads to the north, which is where most XC flights go. XC record is 158.4 miles to Yreka, CA, Scot Huber, July 2004 (Here’s the story). 9000ft MSL over the mountain is usually considered minimum height needed to leave safely.
Cautions: Shallow south launch over jagged rocks and stumps. THIS IS A REALLY BAD PLACE TO BLOW YOUR LAUNCH! Long glide to bailout LZs over deep ravine. If you get more than 500 ft below launch head out to Fouts. St. John can be big air turbulent. Landings at Davis Flat campground en route to Fouts bailout are discouraged – the surface is hard, sloping, surrounded by trees, and is likely to be turbulent.
- Developed campgrounds: Letts Lake, restrooms, picnic tables, fire pits, water. Fishing in the lake. East Park Reservoir.
- Undeveloped (free) campground: Dixie Glade. No water.
- Resort: None. No hotels or cabins.
- Stonyford has a small grocery store/gas station and bar/cafe.
General: The Forest Service owns the launches, Fouts Springs, and Visitor Center LZs. As with every new site, PLEASE check in and get advice about the conditions from a local pilot before flying here. Conditions change.
Restrictions: Site located in Maxwell MOA, not active on weekends. No special clearance needed at any time. No restricted airspace or control zones along any XC path.
Make sure you can reach town before attempting to fly there (you should gain 1000 feet to be sure). Don’t land on the Flying S or on Pendel’s. Do not land short of town. Your LZ choices are Fouts (HG strip or old runway at the Boys’ Camp), the Visitor Center (3 small fields), town (2 insured LZs, land by store), and East Park (Dolphin LZ recommended).
Potato Hill (PG): Potato Hill, near Fouts Springs, is used by paragliders.
For information on paragliding at Potato Hill, please go to the Fly Zephyr Potato Hill page.
147.495 MHz. (Sonoma Wings drive frequency)
There is a repeater on top of the mountain that can link into a statewide network. More information can be found here.
Emergency: The ranger station in Stonyford (530-963-3128) has the nearest access to emergency help.
As with every new site, PLEASE check in and get advice about the conditions from a local pilot before flying here. St John is not a crowded site and many weekends there won’t even be anyone up there.