Inside the Magic:
Mushroom Foraging

Your guide to the hidden magic, from local foraging expert Jenna Hinshaw

Each fall, a few weeks after the first rains, the forest floor of Mendocino County becomes a mushroom hunters paradise. The entire county produces mushrooms, but the Mendocino coast is home to the most variety and abundance of fungi species. The coast also has the longest mushroom season due to its mild climate. The biggest attraction for mushroom hunters to the coast is Jackson State Demonstration Forest, a 50,000+ swath of public Redwood forest, where mushroom hunting is actually legal (with a $20 permit through Cal-Fire.)

Mushroom picking is one of the only truly sustainable types of foraging. There is no such thing as over picking a mushroom patch, as long as you leave some for the animals and insects who depend on them. This is the main reason I, a lifelong local mushroom picker, encourage visitors to try it. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of mycelium; an underground network of root like fibers that have a symbiotic relationship with trees and other plant species. Picking mushrooms helps spread their spores to other areas of the forest. 

As long as we don’t compact the soil, scrape away the duff layer, or kill its host tree, a mushroom will come back year after year. I have never lost a mushroom patch to over picking, but I have lost countless ones to logging. We all hope that as mushroom hunting and other foraging become more popular, it will inspire people to fall in love with the forest, and be more likely to try and save it.

The best thing about mushroom hunting, in my opinion, is that its really fun. Being in the forest allows us to disconnect from our daily lives, and truly immerse ourselves in nature, while also getting exercise and something delicious to eat!

If you want to go mushroom hunting, the safest way to learn is by hiring a local guide for a private hike or small group foray. You can check out my site, Forage Mendocino (, before your visit (and join the Facebook group) we will be posting a list of vetted experts with contact information, as well as offering many other foraging related services. We will also be hosting a mushroom festival in December in the village of Mendocino (stay tuned!).

If you are looking for a foraged / mushroom themed party or wedding, Mendocino Outland Bartending provides a mobile bar service that creates beautiful cocktails with foraged ingredients (Candy cap old fashioned, anyone?). Another site to check out is Born Free Natural Mystic (, owned by local foragers Billy Sprague and Valentine Falcon—who offer a variety of mushroom experiences and products, including stays in their vintage “Shroom Shack” camper. You can follow Billy or myself on Instagram to see what we are picking @billysprague and @jennahinshaw, and contact either of us this way.

Looking for more magic in Mendocino?

Check out these great insider tips and video.

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