Mushroom Hunting in Siskiyou County

Written by Trent Blizzard of Modern Forager 

Spring Mushrooms

Siskiyou County offers excellent habitat for spring mushroom hunting! Lots of the edible mushroom species we seek are “mycorrhizal” meaning they have a symbiotic relationship with a tree – exchanging beneficial nutrients for carbon and sugars. Ponderosas, true firs, Douglas firs, pines, and cedars all form a complex forest type typically referred to as “California mixed conifer”. Many different kinds of oaks also pepper the landscape and play host to fungi. Foragers can expect to find gourmet edibles such as morels and spring porcini in the area.    

What To Look For

 As you drive around the forests in April, May and June you will likely see signs of foragers roaming the woods, even if it is only their cars parked on the side of the road. 

Morchella species, aka morels, are arguably the most prized of all mushrooms. It is easy to spend a few days searching high and low trying to find these elusive fungi. However, once you unlock their secrets, you can really fill your basket.

Morels typically fall into three distinct types: 

  1. Natural morels tend to grow in the same areas, during the same time of year, year after year. In Siskiyou county you may find both “black morels” and “blonde morels” which are easy to distinguish by their respective colors. 
  2. Burn morels are fleeting – they grow in the same spot for a few years only, but in great abundance if the weather cooperates. They can happen anywhere in the area where a conifer forest was impacted by fire. Hunting these spots requires planning and research, unless you happen to drive past a burn.  
  3. Disturbance morels also commonly known as logging morels, are usually found in areas that have been logged within the last few years. These fungi are typically black morels, and like burn morels, can fruit in astounding quantities if you hit the right spot at the right time. The disturbance morels tend to fruit before the burn morels, at the same elevations.

Boletus rex-veris, commonly called the spring porcini or spring king, is another popular gourmet mushroom available to foragers in this region. This large and charismatic mushroom can be easy to spot but is often hiding under the pine and fir duff forming a camouflaged “shrump” or mushroom hump. Look for these especially around fir trees.

The most popular spring king spots can be found near Mt. Shasta with McCloud being well-known as the epicenter of the local hunt. In fact every year McCloud is host to the popular McCloud Mushroom Festival. 2024 marks their 20th Annual event, held every Memorial Day weekend – May 25-26th this year. The festival touts over 100 artisan, craft and food vendors as well as music from local and well-known bands. More than 10,000 people gather each year for this one-of-a-kind event!  

Photo Credit: Eleana Hsu

Where & When

Siskiyou County claims two massive National Forests – Klamath National Forest and Shasta Trinity National Forest. These huge swaths of protected land are primary hunting spots for spring mushroom foragers. Both allow mushroom hunting with personal collections up to 1 gallon per day. Familiarize yourself with the mushroom collection rules of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the rules for Klamath National Forest, it’s important to carry your permit at all times.   

Do not hunt mushrooms in California State Parks like Castle Crags State Park where harvesting mushrooms is against the rules.

The area around the base of Mt Shasta is especially popular with mushroom hunters. It is accessible via hundreds of miles of roads and the forest is endless.

Follow the mushrooms up the hillsides as the season progresses from April through May and into June. From 3,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation is the typical range you will find yourself looking for the fruits of the forest. However, the mushrooms are wiley and can certainly be found outside of these rough guidelines.

Photo Credit: Eleana Hsu

Practical Tips

  • Keep your mushrooms cool – cooling down mushrooms after picking them can really extend their shelf life. Alternatively, morels and porcini dehydrate very well and are delicious when rehydrated.
  • Consider weather and road conditions. Check with your local forest service office for closures.
  • Remember cell phones often don’t work in the field. Practice safe hiking practices. Let someone know where you are going. 
  • Don’t eat any wild mushroom if you are not 100% sure about your identification. If in doubt, do not consume. 
  • Cook your mushrooms thoroughly, especially morels, which will sicken people if raw or undercooked.

Photo Credit: Eleana Hsu

Sustainable Hunting Practices

Sustainable mushroom foraging practices are correlated to protecting the habitat – if the trees disappear so too will the mushrooms. That said, there are many things the mindful forager can do to help guarantee a harvest in years to come:

  • Tread lightly – the main organism of the mushroom lives under the ground in a vast network of threads. Trampling the mycelial network or raking the forest floor can damage the ecosystem and potentially inhibit future fruitings. 
  • Leave some behind – whether for spore production, animal food, or for fellow foragers to collect, it’s always good practice to leave some mushrooms behind to aid spore dispersal and complete the lifecycle.
  • Leave no trace


Like any hobby, it pays to do a little homework to get yourself up to speed before you jump in. Mushroom hunting is a wonderful activity – the more you learn, the more mushrooms you add to your edible basket. In time, you will be surprised at how much you know about the forest floor!

  • A regional identification book is key to learning your local land and its fungi. 
  • Join a local mycological society. These clubs typically organize forays in season and have lots of friendly and knowledgeable folks who are keen to help you out. 
  • Look for relevant Facebook or Reddit groups online – lots of valuable information can be gleaned just from watching the photos that come through local groups. At the least it will tell you what is fruiting now and in what kind of habitat (what kind of leaves or needles do you see on the forest floor in photos?). 
  • The burn morel hunting maps at Modern Forager have rated burn perimeters and USFS disturbance maps as well as many other helpful map layers for those interest in burn morels and disturbance morels.

Photo Credit: Eleana Hsu


There is something special about getting into the outdoors and harvesting nature’s bounty for a meal at your table. There is no better way to appreciate the beauty and fragility of the land and the connectedness in nature.    



Share This Article