Potato Hill


Site Description

Potato Hill is a remote site located in Fouts Spring California is mostly a thermal flying site, although sledders are possible on early mornings and evenings. It is highly recommend first time pilots or pilots not familiar to the site, to go with a local experienced pilot. Make sure to also bring plenty of water as it gets very hot during the summer.

The meteorology of the site is a bit unique, as the predominant meteo wind is often over the back but can be blocked by thermally-driven anabatic flow.

Access & Logistics: Please note: Due to wildfires in the area, please confirm that roads and campground are open, before driving to the site. 

The flying site generally requires a vehicle with decent ground clearance to get to the launch parking area (and a second similar vehicle to retrieve the first vehicle after flying). Or a 1.5 mile, 1700′ vertical hike. Dirt road; 2WD with good clearance (although I recently heard that the road conditions have changed for the worse).  There is a short (15 minute) walk to launch.  Watch out for poison oak and rattlesnakes.  There is plenty of parking at launch and in the LZ.

Launch

Vertical:  1,700′ MSL

The launch area is only large enough to launch one wing at a time.  There are small bushes on both sides and in front of launch which will slow things down if you abort your launch and your wing falls into them. Star Thistle can tangle your lines on launch and in the LZ.

Restrictions:  The launch and LZ are on national forest land. There are no restrictions to fly here. Novice pilots should fly early or late, especially in the summer.  It can get blown out mid-day during the summer and the LZ can be quite “active.”  You should have good descent techniques, as it can be hard to land mid-day during the summer.  Glass-offs have occurred.

Launch Conditions

looking low wind. It’s also good to look out for wind shears, i.e. sharp changes in speed or direction at altitudes we might be flying. These can be seen on Windy in the Airgram view. expect 10mph winds at 9am at launch. This may be a bad sign at a mountain site like Potato. 

Landing

The original LZ, by the parking lot, is large enough for novice pilots, but the adjacent bailout areas are preferred. Landing in the former youth facility is currently the best option.  The LZ can get very turbulent during the summer.  It is advised that P2 pilots (and others) land in the youth facility or the HG LZ, directly adjacent to the main LZ, when landing in turbulent conditions.

Emergencies

The area often has nobody around and no cell service, it is recommended you have a satellite device such as InReach and bring a radio since it maybe the only way you can get help in case of emergencies. There are no pay phones nearby, however the best place to find cell phone reception is on launch.  There is no cell phone reception in the campground or in the LZ.  You can also get cell phone reception at the bend at the top of the hill on your way back towards Stonyford. The nearest trauma center is in Chico.

Other:  There is off-road motor biking on the mountain.  There is a nice hiking trail that starts from the Dixie Glade campground.  There is a creek near the LZ and, if you continue on the paved road past the turn-off to the launch, you will find Letts Lake.


Directions

Take I-5 north to Maxwell.

Exit at the first Maxwell exit and then go west to Stonyford.

In Stonyford, turn left at the stop sign.

Go about 1/4 mile and then bear left on Fouts Spring Road.

Go over the hill, down the valley, past the Youth Facility and up the other side of the valley.

The LZ is directly across the road from the Youth Facility.

Watch on the right for the sign for Dixie Glade campground, about five miles past the Youth Facility.


Local Accommodations

There are several campgrounds in the area.  Dixie Glade campground is the first choice. When it is especially hot, some people prefer to camp at Letts Lake. There are no toilets at launch or in the LZ.  The closest town is Stonyford, where there is a store, gasoline and a restaurant.

Dixie Glade Campground | Map

This campground is located on Forest Road M10, just above the Fouts Springs OHV area. There are 7 sites with tables and grills. Corrals and hitching post are available for packstock animals. A short trail  (.8 mile) connects to the Deafy Glade Trail providing access to the Snow Mountain Wilderness.

Nestled among the ponderosa pines, douglas firs and oak trees, Dixie Glade has 8 campsites with picnic tables, bar-b-q grills, fire rings and a vault toilet. There is no potable water and and no trash removal, so you must pack out what you pack in.  The campground is set up for horse camping, with hitching posts, corrals and watering troughs and is dog friendly.  The fee is $5 per night per campsite.

There are other campgrounds in the area, but we like Dixie Glade because it is usually quiet and has cool shade on hot summer days. The Fouts Spring campground, which is on the left before you get to the Youth Facility, has water and you can use their dumpster to dispose of your garbage.

The road to launch is the first turn-off on the left after you pass Dixie Glade.

*Info gathered from Fly Zephyr, David Suder, and Dan Z


Site Information & Resources

LocationFouts Springs Rd, Stonyford, CA 95979
Rating requirementUnregulated
ClubN/A
Club Website N/A
Flying Type Thermal, Mountain
Optimal seasonSpring through fall
Advanced pilots recommended
mid day Summer Season
Wind DirectionNE
Check the “true” wind direction from the parking lot on top before walking out to launch
Optimal Speedlow wind
Weather LinksWindy.com
Accuweather
Usairnet
CommunicationWOR Telegram Access Link
Number of Launches1 Launch
Launch N39°20’27” W122°41’06” (1042m) 3,400 MSL
LZN39°21’00” W122°39’43” (523m)
Local Training Schools N/A
Site info LinksFly Zephyr
Site radio frequencyDepends on who’s flying
Local Emergency #530-963-3128 (Stonyford Ranger Station)
Glen Medical Center – Trauma Level IV (71min)
1133 W Sycamore St. Willows, CA 95988
(530) 934-1800
Colusa Medical Center (88min)
199 E Webster St. Colusa, CA 95932
(530) 619-0800
Enloe Medical Center – Trauma Level II (110min)
1531 Esplanade, Chico, CA 95296
(530) 332-7300
Sutter Lakeside Hospital – Trauma Level IV (2h 21min)
5176 Hill Rd. E, Lakeport CA 95453
(707) 262-5050

Location Map

Note: Location shown is of the general area of the site. Refer to official guides or local pilots get more details.