eel river north of potter valley
What you can find: Red jasper, occasional pieces of blue or green chert
Ease of access: A bit of a drive, but an easy walk to the riverside once you're there.
Equipment needed: Backpack for specimens, and a lunch.
Safety considerations: Nothing beyond the usual for any outdoor venture.
Where, exactly? From Ukiah, take Potter Valley road into Potter Valley. Take Eel River Road out from Potter Valley and follow it until you reach the bridge over the river, not far from Van Arsdale Reservoir. Here, you have a choice - you can park near the bridge and walk down there, or drive up the [rather bumpy] Forest Route 20N01, and walk down one of the trails to the water.
It was a cold and windy day when I visited, so I wasn't able to spend as much time looking around as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I found several lovely pieces of red jasper, and a few pieces of the pretty blue chert that occurs throughout the area. There were some oddly shaped soft mudstone nodules with very small calcite crystals on them, but those weren't impressive enough to be worth collecting.
This trip is probably not worth the drive solely for rockhounding, but is well worth stopping at if you're passing through and want to pick up a few specimens while taking a break.
I hope to make a second trip on a warmer day, and see what else I can turn up. I've heard rumors of fossils found somewhere in the area, but I have no details and found no evidence of them this time. I'll keep looking, though!
I did spot a lovely osprey nest in one of the old douglas fir trees that lean out over the river. Keep your eyes open and you might be lucky enough to spot one grabbing some fish from the river. If nothing else, you couldn't ask for a prettier place to rockhound in.