How to Find Morels on New Roads, Ditches, and Disturbed Lands

Yes it’s true. Morel mushrooms love disturbed soils. They love new roads, new ditches, and recently burned forests. In this article we’ll cover just how to find morels on new roads and where to find new roads in your area.

Types of Disturbed Areas Where Black Morel and Yellow Morel Mushrooms Grow

If you’re new to the world of morel mushroom hunters we recommend checking out our article on the 15 best places to find morel mushrooms.

This article will focused on disturbed soils such as:

  • New Dirt Roads
  • New Ditches
  • Recently Flooded Areas
  • Flat Areas Next To Streams and Creeks (that get flooded)
  • Tire tracks after a rain
  • Burn sites and Wildfire sites that are 1-2 years old (recent forest fires)
  • Clear cuts and logged areas – Clear cuts will have newly built logging access roads
  • Tree thinning areas – You can expect new dirt roads or retracked roads to these areas as well

We’ll cover how to find new roads, flooded areas, burn sites, wildfire sites, and logging areas further below. Next let’s go over some quick morel mushroom hunting tips that apply to all areas.

Morel Mushroom Hunting Tips

Use these tips for all hunting locations:

  • Know the difference between true black morels (Morchella elata), yellow morels (Morchella esculenta), and false morels. Read our article on poisonous morels here.
  • Stick to areas that involve hardwood, deciduous trees. Morels especially like elm, ash, poplar, old apple orchards, and oak.
  • Learn what dead elm, ash, poplar, apple, and oak trees look like.
  • Find abandoned apple orchards with dead or dying trees.
  • Hunt in the spring from February through June. Morels like nighttime temperatures at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and about 60 F during the day. The soil temperature should be about 45 to 50 degrees F.
  • Always check disturbed soils (new roads, new tire tracks in grass after rain, new ditches, fallen over dead trees, floods but drained soils)
  • Hunt after each rain event. Morels prefer to sprout from moist soils so their spores land in moist soils.
  • Well drained soils are best. Wet soils like swamps or riverbeds that hold water aren’t great.
  • Take local morel hunting classes.
  • Find and learn from other morel hunters in your area. Find them through gardening clubs or your local grocery store that sells morels in the spring.
  • Many states require you to get certified to sell morels. Check your state’s local certification board for lists of approved morel hunters. Become an apprentice. For an example see this article on Iowa’s $50 certification course for morel hunting and selling.

How to Find New Roads and Ditches to Hunt Morels

Finding new roads can be difficult but not impossible. It just takes some basic networking. Here’s a list of tips on finding new roads. If you overlay these areas with the right type of habitats from the tips given above you’ll greatly increase your changes of finding new morel hotspots.

Remember, morels like to pop up 1-2 years after a disturbance so you may not find them in the first year of a new road. They like to grow a bit underground then pop out after a rain when soil temperatures reach 50 F.

  • Ask local mountain biking shops for new gravel roads
  • Join local mountain biking clubs and hiking clubs – ask them about new access roads and places to go and new hiking trails
  • Get to know local off-road vehicle clubs. See if they have online maps. Check them regularly for updates and new roads
  • Look for new gravel or dirt roads AND new hiking trails AND off-road vehicle trails
  • Know all your local state forests and federal national forests. Build a list of foresters and check in with them yearly on any new roads or logging. This will also apply to finding recently logged or thinned areas to check. Logging frequently requires new roads for access.
  • As above, find and start mapping new logging areas. Check them for new roads.
  • Check online maps for new roads

How to Find Tree Thinning and Logging Areas to Hunt for Morels

When you combine new dirt or gravel road research with 1-2 year old logging areas you’re getting into some of the highest probability zones to find morel mushrooms.

You’re in for the mother lode of morels.

We discussed how to find new roads above.

To find new logging areas do the following:

  1. Map out every national or state forest near you
  2. Collect contact information for the headquarters for each of them. Network with them and ask them each fall about new logging areas. Check if they have any recent timber harvesting permits.
  3. Get to know your local forestry maps, how to find their date of publication, and when new ones come out – National Forest and Wilderness Area Maps
  4. Learn to use Google Earth or Google Maps Satellite functions. I prefer google earth as you can draw and save polygons and waypoints around your favorite morel zones. It makes it easier to zoom to each one and check for updated satellite images. Once there you’ll quickly scan for new roads or logging areas. Clear cuts are super easy to spot in aerial images. To make thing easier when hunting I turn on the location function in my phone’s picture app. That stores the GPS coordinates for each picture. Then when I get back I run my photos through Geosetter and import them into Google Earth. It places the picture directly into google earth making it much faster than importing via my old Garmin.
  5. Network with local timber and logging companies especially small ones. Get on their good side and see if they’ll give you tips on recent work zones.

How to Find Flood Zones to Hunt for Morels

Check the FEMA flood maps for your area. This organization sadly works for America only though most countries should have some kind of flood insurance organization. FEMA will have an online searchable FEMA flood map with aerial backgrounds here. Note that these maps were built for insurance professionals.

You’ll need to find your address or nearby forest then give it a minute to load all the flood zones (e.g. AE, X, etc.).

Ignore the low risk areas (B, C, X). Ignore undetermined zones (D).

You want the high risk flood zones (A, AE, AH, AO, AR, A1-30, and A99). That combined with the right type of trees and dirt roads and you’re golden.

How to Find Forest Fire Sites that are 1-2 Years Old

Check the global fire map website to spot recent burns and wildfires in your area then mark your calendar to recheck them 1-2 years out.