A lot of people have asked us about how to get started into mushroom hunting.. here are some tips! (Thanks to my friend Rich Smith, who told me to get this on our website.. truth be told Kevin has been doing all the work on the website and I was a little apprehensive about doing it myself, but yay! I just wrote and uploaded my own piece on our website! Whoo hoo!)
The Mushrooms of the redwood coast (great for the entire Pacific Northwest) This is known as the Bible of Mushroom ID around the Bay Area.
I can also highly recommend these pamphlets by Daniel Winkler compact and easy field guides:
A step up from that is a great travel pocketbook by David Aurora's All that Rain Promises and More.
Jackson state demo forest & Salt Point is where I would recommend looking/collecting legally if you are interested in seeing the diversity. It is a very popular place so sometimes picked over.. but you will always find something even if it's just one or two. Some of our friends come out with baskets full, so you can get lucky too! These places are in Mendocino. You need a permit to hunt in Jackson State. Permit here Near SF, you can hunt Point Reyes, and the Oakland Hills, Portola I haven't checked out San Rafael area, or Walnut Creek but I heard it's pretty great. Places like the Oakland Hills do not allow you to pick.. so I would check out local state laws before you decide to pick a mushroom. If you are inclined bring a backpack.
Morel season is coming, you can buy a burn map from Modern Forager, and they literally show you where its prime habitat to pick burn morels! Download I naturalist - it's a great place to start - You can search where people have found certain species you are looking for. Alternatively, you are able to take a photo of a mushroom or any living organism for that matter and the app will do it's best to figure it out for you/give you a list of suggestions.
Gaia is the app to download for all offline maps so you can never get lost in the forest. Best $30 you will spend. Wander aimlessly without worrying about how you will get back to the car.
Join your local mycology chapter, in the Bay Area we have (MSSF) Mycological Society of San Francisco, (SOMA) SOnoma Mycological Association) , (FFCS) Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz , & (MycoMarin) Mycological Society of Marin - there are virtual events happening now, and a few socially distanced forays =)
The most important thing you have to understand about mushrooms is that you are hunting habitat so make sure to study up on the mushroom you want to find and learn when they fruit in the season. More importantly, learn what trees/substrate it likes to be friends with. For example, you will quickly learn that all the great edibles are not friends with redwood trees so you will never find a chanterelle in a 100% redwood forest.. and if you do please take a picture, mark the location and let me know cause this is unheard and very rare haha. Another example is that chanterelles love to be friends with oak trees.. so find the oak trees during this time of year and you are likely to find a chanterelle. Once you find the chanterelle mark the spot via GPS coordinates and come back to it season after season. Chances are you will always have a place to find chanterelles in the future. The mushroom's mycelium is underground, and it doesn't move once it's established. Congrat's you basically found where a chanterelle or many chanterelles like to live haha
If you are not 100% sure that it's edible do not eat it. A lot of lookalikes can be deadly, and or can cause extreme digestional distress.
Have fun =) It's the best way to get a hike in and find some great tasting food..