The 5 Best Counties For Mushroom Foraging

Mushrooms from foraging in wicker basket
© iStock.com/dolgachov

Written by Cammi Morgan

Updated: June 19, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


Do you want to get into foraging or identifying wild mushrooms, but not sure if you live in an ideal area? Well, thousands of species of mushrooms are widespread across all continents except Antarctica. So, chances are you live in an area where you can come across a number of different mushroom species. Additionally, you may also happen to live in or near an area known for an abundance of highly-sought after wild mushrooms, such as various types of morels. You may also be lucky and have in-person access to a reputable, well-established mushroom club, where you can really improve your foraging skills and network with other mycophiles!

In this guide, we’ll cover five of the best counties for mushroom foraging in the US that include places that are well-known for certain popular mushrooms and have awesome mycological clubs. We’ll also name some specific parks and public nature areas that are ideal for mushroom foraging.

It’s important to note, however, that some parks and nature preserves don’t allow the collecting of mushrooms, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the various regulations of public areas before heading out.

Read on to learn more!

Only consume mushrooms that you have 100% certain of edibility and identification.

Best Counties for Mushroom Foraging: Before You Head Out

While ecologically-oriented mushroom foraging is a wonderful activity, there are a few things you should know and be aware of before heading out:

  1. First and foremost, only consume mushrooms that you have 100% certain of edibility and identification. If you aren’t an experienced forager, please begin your hunts with a mushroom expert. This is not only the safest practice, but foraging with an expert will also help you learn.
  2. Take photos and make notes! Taking photos of mushrooms at various stages of their life cycles and making notes of the immediate and surrounding environment will help you learn. You can bring these photos to your next mycological meet-up or post them on reputable sites and forums for discussion.
  3. Ideally, bring a woven basket or mesh bag to carry your mushrooms. This will allow airflow to the mushrooms and encourage spore dispersal as you walk about the forest or meadow.
  4. Harvest in a considerate manner and only forage what you will reasonably consume or study. Remember that fungi play many vital roles in our ecosystem and that other forest critters also depend on mushrooms for food.
  5. Tread lightly. Try to harvest carefully so as not to unnecessarily disturb the environment.

5 of the Best Counties for Mushroom Foraging

Getting started with mushroom foraging can be a bit of a daunting experience. You may feel quite concerned about consuming a misidentified mushroom, and for good reason. While only about 1-2% of all currently identified mushrooms are known to be seriously poisonous, it’s still incredibly important to be well-informed on the mushroom species you’re foraging for and any potential look-alikes. One great way to begin safer foraging practices is to join a reputable in-person mycological club and attend group mushroom hunts led by a mushroom expert. The following list is comprised of counties that boast delicious wild mushrooms and active mycological groups:

  1. Thurston County, Washington
  2. Marin County, California
  3. El Paso County, Colorado
  4. Buncombe County, North Carolina
  5. Washtenaw County, Michigan

1. Thurston County, Washington

Matsutake mushrooms laid out on ferns

Matsutake mushrooms laid out on ferns.

©ykokamoto/Shutterstock.com

The Pacific Northwest is absolutely overflowing with mushrooms, mycophiles, and mycological societies. Thurston County, home to the South Sound Mushroom Club, is an amazing area for mushroom hunting. By joining the South Sound Mushroom Club, you can connect to monthly meetings, mushroom hunts (forays), online and in-person events, and even weekend getaways.

You can forage daily for up to 3 gallons of mushrooms for personal use in the gorgeous Olympic National Forest. In the Olympic National Park, you can harvest up to one quart of mushrooms per day for personal use.

Some of the delicious edible mushrooms you may find on your mushroom hunts include:

  • Boletus edulis (king bolete)
  • Chanterelles (Cantharellus spp.) including C. formosus and C. cascadensis
  • Morels (Morchella spp.) including M. rufobrunnea, M. americana, and M. populiphila
  • American Matsutake (Tricholoma spp.) specifically T. murrillianum, T. magnivelare, and T. mesoamericanum
  • Hydnum washingtonianum

2. Best Counties for Mushroom Foraging: Marin County, California

King Bolete Mushroom - Boletus edulis

The King Bolete mushroom, Boletus edulis, grows in California, and is a prized edible.

©Krasula/Shutterstock.com

Home to some choice edible mushrooms and close to the Bay Area Mycological Society, Marin County in California is an awesome location for those interested in foraging for mushrooms.

Joining up with this long-standing mycological club is an excellent way to make like-minded friends, go on informed mushroom walks, and attend in-person and online educational meetings.

Marin County is home to some incredible public forests and trails that are brimming with fungal life. You can forage for mushrooms at a number of locations (with some limitations dependent on location) including the Point Reyes National Seashore, Muir Woods National Monument, Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Preserve, and the Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

Some lovely edible species that call these environments home include the following:

3. El Paso County, Colorado

Sarcodon imbricatus hawk's wing mushroom

A detailed pic of the top and bottom of Sarcodon imbricatus.

©LFRabanedo/Shutterstock.com

If you live in or near El Paso County, Colorado, you can find some wonderful, wild edible mushrooms. You can also link up with the Pikes Peak Mycological Society for group mushroom forays, documentaries, meetings, and classes!

Several of the more popular edible mushrooms in this region live in higher altitudes (often above 9,000 feet) in mixed conifer forests in the Rocky Mountains. So, if you’re a fan of hiking in the Rockies, foraging in this region may be doubly exciting for you.

One of your best bets in this region is to forage for mushrooms on land maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Often, harvesting is limited to one gallon per person per day, but make sure to check specific regulations for your area before foraging. You can also check national forests in this area, but you may need to obtain a personal foraging permit.

Some wonderful edible mushrooms that you can happen upon in this area include:

  • Boletus rubriceps (the Rocky Mountain red king bolete)
  • Calvatia booniana (The western giant puffball)
  • Cantharellus roseocanus (rainbow chanterelle)
  • Morels (Morchella spp.) including M. americana and M. tomentosa
  • Sarcodon imbricatus (hawk’s wings)

4. Buncombe County, North Carolina

Cantharellus cibarius (commonly known as the chanterelle or golden chanterelle)

Golden chanterelles growing in the forest.

©godi photo/Shutterstock.com

Buncombe County, North Carolina is home to stunning wilderness areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the informed forager can find several wonderful edible species of mushrooms. Additionally, if you live in or near this area and are interested in mycology, you can join the Asheville Mushroom Club for in-person and online classes, programs, and forays.

You may find great success foraging in areas of the Pisgah National Forest such as Big Ivy (aka Coleman Boundary). You may need a free permit to forage mushrooms in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest.

In this area, you may have success finding the following good edible mushroom species:

  • Chanterelles (Cantharellus spp.) including C. confluens, C. appalachiensis, and C. cinnabarinus
  • Morchella americana (blonde morel)
  • Laetiporus spp. (chicken of the woods)
  • Hydnum spp. (eastern Noth American hedgehog mushroom)
  • Lactifluus spp. (milk caps)
  • Sparassis spp. (cauliflower mushroom)
  • Hericium spp. (lion’s mane and similar)
  • Grifola frondosa (hen of the woods)
  • Pleurotus ostreatus (common oyster mushroom)
  • Craterellus fallax (black trumpet)
  • and many many more, the southern Appalachians has a lot of diversity

5. Best Counties for Mushroom Foraging: Washtenaw County, Michigan

morels growing

Prized for their flavor, morels must be cooked before eating.

©Mircea Costina/Shutterstock.com

If you live in Washtenaw County, Michigan, and are interested in mushroom foraging, you’re in luck! Not only are there some choice edible mushrooms that grow wild in this region, but the natural recreation areas of Washtenaw County are also a frequent destination of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club. This club offers educational events, field ID trips, an annual fungi festival, social gatherings, and both public and members-only mushroom hunts!

Popular locations for mushroom hunting in Washtenaw County include Waterloo State Recreation Area and Pickney Recreation Area.

In these areas, you may have success finding the following popular edible mushrooms:

Summary Of The 5 Best Counties For Mushroom Foraging

RankCountySome Of The Mushroom Types
1Thurston County, WashingtonKing bolete, Chanterelles, Morels
2Marin County, CaliforniaMorels, Chanterelles, Common Oyster
3El Paso County, ColoradoWestern giant puffball, Rainbow Chanterelle, Hawk’s Wing
4Buncombe County, North CarolinaChanterelle, Blond Morel, Cauliflower mushroom, Lion’s Mane,
5Washtenaw County, MichiganMorels, Hen of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods
Summary Table Of The 5 Best Counties For Mushroom Foraging


Share this post on:
About the Author

Cammi Morgan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on mycology, marine animals, forest and river ecology, and dogs. Cammi has been volunteering in animal rescue for over 10 years, and has been studying mycology and field-researching mushrooms for the past 3 years. A resident of Southeast Appalachia, Cammi loves her off-grid life where she shares 20 acres with her landmates, foster dogs, and all the plants, fungi, and critters of the forest.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.