eel river at hearst
What you can find: Jasper of various colors, rhyolite, jade, and fluorescent calcites.
Ease of access: Long drive down dirt roads. Collecting site is near road but down a bit of a steep embankment.
Equipment needed: Backpack for specimens, hammer and chisel (and eye protection) if you mean to break apart the larger boulders.
Notes: This is a good site to visit in conjunction with the Salt Creekand Tomki Creek sites
Safety considerations: If visiting in the summer, watch for rattlesnakes, and beware that black widows may nest under the rocks.
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The point where Hearst-Willits Road crosses the Eel River is both a popular local swimming hole, and a fantastic place to collect rocks. Although it is private property, the owners kindly allow the public access - please respect the posted rules, and do not hunt, fish, or light fires on the property.
There's a big parking area near the bridge, and a trail that leads down to the water's edge right beside the bridge. Follow it down, and walk either way along the river, examining the plentiful boulder fields. If you go upstream, you'll find larger boulders [most of them too large to haul home!]
Jaspers and rhyolites are the most common collectibles found here, but I have seen some nice pieces of jade people have collected along the river. If you like fluorescent rocks, it's worth coming at night with a blacklight - there are some beautifully fluorescent calcites to be found here.
Be aware that both rattlesnakes and black widow spiders do live around here, and they like the cracks in between and underneath the boulders. Never put your fingers where you can't see them, and take care when stepping over rocks.
When you're done collecting, consider taking a swim in the river to cool off and wash away all the rock dust. The water's lovely in the summer!
Happy hunting and stay safe!