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Winter Humboldt Trails Council eNewsletter

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The Humboldt Trails Council serves as a unified voice to support development, maintenance, connection to, and use of trails for recreation and transportation throughout Humboldt County, California.

Humboldt County Trail Updates

The County of Humboldt continues to advance the 4.25-mile trail project that will complete the Humboldt Bay Trail between Eureka and Arcata along Highway 101.  On the Arcata side, the project will connect to the southern end of Arcata’s Humboldt Bay Trail segment near Bayside Cutoff, just north of Bracut.  On the Eureka side, the project will connect with the Eureka Waterfront Trail near Target and Eureka Slough.

On February 10, the County closed escrow on purchasing an easement from Green Diamond that will allow constructing a one-mile trail segment around the levee of the Brainard mill site.  In addition, the County expects to close escrow on the purchase of two parcels near Bracut Industrial Park by the end of February.  The County purchased two other parcels along the shoreline in 2020 and has a lease agreement with the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) for parcels owned by NCRA.  The County is currently working with NCRA and the California Transportation Commission to confirm whether the County’s proposed design can go forward even though the federal Surface Transportation Board has not made a determination on NCRA’s railbanking application.

The project design includes a substantial amount of earthwork, three new trail bridges, major modifications to the Eureka Slough railroad bridge, removal of the northern section of Eucalyptus trees, repairs to the eroded railroad prism and shoreline armoring, and construction of a cable barrier between Highway 101 and the trail (for both the new and existing trail segments).  The design plans for the project have reached a 90% level of completion.  The County is currently evaluating how inflation and cost escalations have affected the estimated construction cost and whether supplemental funding may be needed.  There is also uncertainty whether the County’s delinquency in providing audit reports to the State will affect the availability of the funding that was previously allocated for construction funding.  Resolving these funding issues may take several months.

The Coastal Commission has indicated that they will likely consider issuance of a coastal development permit for the project at their meeting scheduled for April 6-8.  Receiving the coastal development permit will be a major milestone because the Coastal Act has many limitations and requirements for large projects within the coastal zone.  The County has already obtained permits from the Regional Water Board, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Humboldt Bay Harbor District.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ready to issue their permit as soon as the coastal development permit is issued.  

Major remaining items include issuance of the coastal development permit, confirmation of sufficient funding, confirmation that the proposed work within the railroad corridor is acceptable, completion of the design plans, and administering the bidding process to select a construction contractor.  Based on the time needed to resolve these items, it does not appear feasible for construction to begin in 2022.  The County’s current goal is to be ready for construction going into the 2023 construction season.

Humboldt Bay Trail – The Final 4 Miles (Please click below)

Update provided by Hank Seeman,  Deputy Director of Humboldt County Environmental Services

Arcata Trails Update

Trails and parks in Arcata continue to be important community assets for families and individuals to be active and engage with nature and one another. Arcata voters demonstrated the community’s priority to protect open space and maintain our trails and parks with the passage of Measure A, the Open Space, Parks & Trails Special Tax, in November 2020. The Open Space, Parks & Trails Special Tax will be supporting acquisition, stewardship, maintenance and improvement of the City’s parks, trails, forest and open spaces for years to come. The completion of the Arcata Ridge Trail remains the top priority for Open Space Special Tax funding, and the City is hopeful the project can be completed this summer.

The City has been leading the development of the Peanut Butter and Jump Trails in partnership with the Redwood Coast Mountain Bike Association within the recent Forsyth acquisition of the Arcata Community Forest. The Peanut Butter mountain bike trail upgrade was completed earlier this winter as an intermediate level mountain bike trail and has since attracted riders of all ages, including members of the Humboldt Composite High School Mountain Bike Team, who put volunteer hours into upgrading the trail. Upgrades have enhanced the safety of trail features, improved site drainage and increased trail flow and sustainability. City staff will be completing upgrades and rerouting of the advanced Jump Trail mountain bike trail this summer.

The City continues to advance the preliminary design and environmental documentation for the Arcata Annie & Mary Trail planned along the rail corridor between the Arcata Skate Park and the Mad River at Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District’s Park 1, and including improved walking and biking connectivity between the Valley West neighborhood and the planned trail corridor. The City plans additional public outreach for this phase of the project in spring/summer 2022 followed by the design phase through 2023 with anticipated construction in 2024/25. The Arcata Annie & Mary Trail will connect to the northern terminus of Humboldt Bay Trail North and provide a safe walking and biking connection from northern Arcata neighborhoods to downtown and Cal Poly Humboldt.

Update provided by Emily Sinkhorn, Arcata Environmental Services Director

McKinleyville Community Forest Update


McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) has set dates for in-person and virtual public input meetings to discuss the McKinleyville Community Forest.

The In-Person meeting will be held Saturday, February 26 from 9:30AM – 12:30PM at the Azalea Hall at 1620 Pickett Road in McKinleyville. 

The Virtual meeting will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, March 8 from 6-7:30PM.

The information gathered from these public input meetings will be used to advise and direct decisions mainly about access points to the community forest, however it is also an opportunity to discuss types of recreational uses, types of trails, etc.


In response to community concern over development of forest lands, Green Diamond Resource Co. developed a conservation strategy, dedicating a portion of its holdings between McKinleyville and Fieldbrook for conservation.

In 2015, MCSD & Green Diamond began seeking funding for the acquisition of Community Forest property. In 2020, the California Natural Resource Agency granted $3.8 million to Trust for Public Lands to purchase 553 Acres from Green Diamond Resource Co. which will be deeded to MCSD for management and development as a Community Forest.

The land encompasses 553 acres along the eastern boundary of McKinleyville, consisting primarily of second-and third growth Sitka spruce, Redwood and Douglas fir. 

For more information about the McKinleyville Community Forest, please consult one of these resources:

                * Visit the McKinleyville CSD Website by clicking here

                * Sign up for Community Forest Updates by clicking here

                * call the MCSD Parks & Recreation office at: 707-839-9003

Update provided by Michael Proulx of the Humboldt Trails Council

Michael Proulx worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor for 22 years at the California Department of Rehabilitation, retiring in 2011. He continues to teach part-time in the School of Business at HSU.

Michael’s volunteer activities include Arcata Economic Development Corporation, Making Headway (disability organization), American Field Service (exchange program for foreign high school students) and Humboldt Trails Council. He joined the Humboldt Trails Council Board of Directors in 2015, regularly participates in the VTS trail workdays in the Arcata Community Forest and currently takes care of one section of Bay Trail North through the VTS program.

While my favorite trail on the planet is the hike to the Tall Trees Grove in Redwood National Park, my most frequent hiking trails are those in Arcata Community Forest. In addition to hiking, I love backpacking and like to visit the Marble Mountain and Trinity Alps Wilderness areas. The North Coast has so much to offer in outdoor recreation and adventure!

For years if you had mobility issues, relied on a wheelchair or electric scooter most all trails were off-limits.  Increasingly that is no longer a limitation.  Thanks to the commitment of California State Parks and other government agencies, area nonprofits, and many Humboldt County jurisdictions, there are a surprising number of accessible trails spread throughout the County . . . from the redwoods to Humboldt Bay, from most of the Redwood Skywalk at Sequoia Park Zoo to Potawot Health Village in Arcata, from Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge to the Botanical Garden.

Damian and his father

Rees Hughes will review the dozens of ADA accessible trails and walks available throughout the County at a free zoom session through the OLLI program on Monday, March 7, from 12 – 1:30 pm.  Sign up through the OLLI program about a week prior to the event: https://extended.humboldt.edu/olli/events/brown-bag-lunch-presentations

Whether for your own adventures or to assist a friend or family member to enjoy the beauty and wonder of our amazing North Coast, please join us.  And, spread the word.

State Parks ADA Informational Sign

Even new ways to get to the beach!

Laura McNulty

Rees Hughes walked his way through some of the most stunning regions on Earth — from the top of Kilimanjaro to the arid interior of Australia, from the pilgrimage route up Sri Pada in Sri Lanka to the picturesque Cornish coast, from the Himalayas to the Andes — but has found little that compares with the magic of the Klamath Knot. Co-editor of the Pacific Crest Trailside Readers and author of a guide to Humboldt County walks, Rees serves as a volunteer trail steward coordinator, and an advocate for the Humboldt Bay Trail. Rees retired from a career in higher education after more than three decades at Humboldt State University, Seattle University, and the University of Kansas.

The Great Redwood Trail Vs Toxic Coal Trains 

By Bruce Silvey

Humboldt Trails Council has joined with many other organizations to form the No Coal In  Humboldt Coalition. As dedicated as we are to the creation of the Great Redwood Trail (GRT),  the environmental and health risks of coal dust along the Eel River Canyon, through our towns  and around Humboldt Bay, far exceed the loss of the GRT that coal trains would cause. 

There is progress however in the collective effort to stop the threat of these coal trains.  California Senate Bill 307, coauthored by Senator McGuire and Assembly Member Wood,  would block the use of State funds to either rehabilitate the old NCRA rail line north of Willits or  for bulk coal terminals within Humboldt County. This bill just passed the Senate  overwhelmingly on a 33 – 2 vote and now moves to the Assembly. 

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors also just unanimously passed an ordinance that  prohibits the storage and handling of coal on County owned property. A similar ordinance will  be taken up by the Harbor District in March, to join the City of Eureka’s recent ordinance and  many other municipal resolutions and ordinances south to Sonoma County. 

The problem is that Federal railroad laws are strong, and California can’t just stop this new coal  train company if the Surface Transportation Board (STB) decides they have a financially viable  proposal. However, the State of Washington was able to block a terminal in a challenge that  went all the way to the Supreme Court on the grounds that it would cause ‘unavoidable and  irreparable’ damage to the environment. 

The current holdup is the STB’s review of the NCRA’s application to abandon their rail line north  of Willits and railbank the right-of-way for the GRT. The STB could decide it is not feasible to  rehabilitate the line in the Eel River Canyon at this time for trains, and grant the railbanking.  That would kill the coal train proposal and green light the development of the GRT. Or they  could decide to review all proposals to reopen the line to see if one looks financially viable. 

The NCRA believes the cost to rebuild the line to accommodate “high volume” coal trains is  greater than $2B, and that it is NOT a viable project, especially on ground that has been  historically unable to support trains since the day the line first opened in 1914. Until the STB  makes a decision we continue to get our ducks in a row and hope for the best.

Bruce Silvey is a mostly retired Marriage and Family Therapist who has lived on a small working sheep ranch an hour east of Eureka for forty years. For the last twenty years he and his wife Leslie have traveled around the US riding rails-to-trails. Captivated by the history, tunnels, trestles, and virtually flat trails that take you from town to town, Bruce joined the HTC Board in 2018 to help convert our unused railroad corridor to a trail everyone could enjoy. His current passion is the development of the Great Redwood Trail.

His favorite local trails are the Eureka Waterfront Trail and the Bay Trail North, both of which will become part of the Great Redwood Trail if all goes well.

Ted Humphry’s Trail Notes From Redwood National and State Parks; Pure and Unfiltered Observations From the Trail


2/5/2022 – NBD Parkway – Hike and Bike Day

I parked on the Parkway and rode my bike up to the Ossagon Trailhead, and back to the vehicle. 

It was a cool but bright and sunny day, and there were dozens of bike riders out for a leisurely ride on the NBD Parkway.  Additionally there were a couple of skateboarders and 3 or 4 roller skaters, and over a dozen dogs on leash, some leading, some following their humans.   Also there were at least 2 wheelchairs being pushed up toward Big Tree.   

I saw no electric bikes.

This photo was taken about 1 pm outside PCVC, and you can see cars parked on the Parkway almost back to where the Elk Prairie Trail crosses.

This was a popular day!

2/8/2022 – Carruthers Cove, Big Tree and Circle Trail

I parked on Coastal Drive at the Coastal Trail trailhead to Carruthers Cove, walked to the beach and went south and north on the sand as far as I could go, and back to the vehicle.  Then I drove to Big Tree and walked the Circle Trail loop back to the vehicle. 

The Coastal Trail to  Carruthers Cove is passable with several step-over obstructions.   This trail requires constant attention to footing because it is a creek bed during rains.

Circle Trail  at Big Tree is clear and easily passable.

I was at Carruthers Cove at 11:45  am, with a +1.6 foot low tide. There were 8 or 10 foot wave breakers.   

There was no way to get around the big rocks at the south end of Carruthers.  I suspect even with a 0 foot low tide and a more calm surf, it still may not be passable.  This section of Coastal Trail is effectively NOT passable.

There was evidence of people trying to climb over the big rocks, so I took a look. 

 There was a steep social trail up,

but it led nowhere.

However, there was a nice view of the beach at Carruthers.

A decade ago the beach here was thickly covered with European beachgrass., but a lot of sand under the beachgrass has gone away.  Now there are places where layers of sand and silt are visible under the beachgrass.

I wonder how long ago that was deposited?   Or how long ago was this redwood buried?

Here is a study in Sitka spruce root exposure, thanks to the Pacific ocean.

I also came across a large portion of a whale vertebrae.

2/10/2022 – Tall Trees, 44 Camp

I parked at TT trailhead and walked down and  through the TT grove to Redwood Creek Trail, then up to 44 Camp.  Then I backtracked on the other side of the TT loop, out on the gravel bar, and back to the vehicle. 

The TT Access Road remains drivable in any vehicle.  It has sections of mild to moderate washboarding, a few chuck holes, and was moderately dusty.  Not the way it should be in February!

The TT Trail to the grove is easily passable.

The TT Loop has a couple of debris piles to step through, and several step-overs, and is passable.

The short section of Redwood Creek Trail is passable with step-overs.

And the trail up to 44 Camp is passable with step-overs. 

Redwood Creek was flowing at about 280 cfs, and was about  22 inches deep at the deepest.  I crossed here.  

In the current, using a walking stick allows 2 point contact with the creekbed at all times.

44 Camp was clean and showed no sign of recent camping.

I had lunch on the gravel bar adjacent to the TT grove.  A California tortoiseshell butterfly was infatuated with my red pack.

He or she flitted around me for 20 minutes.  It was a little strange to see it in February. 

All day I encountered no backpackers, had just 2 visitor contacts, and one question about Hyperion.   Not many people out and about.

Ted is a retired pediatrician who volunteers at Redwood National and State Parks.

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The Humboldt Trails Council serves as a unified voice to support development, maintenance, connection to, and use of trails for recreation and transportation throughout Humboldt County, California.
The Humboldt Trails Council envisions a well-maintained network of accessible community pathways traveled by walkers and riders of all abilities, ages and means in the pursuit of unfettered kinetic joy. We are advocates, educators, and coordinators working to enhance the county’s active transportation and recreation options, community wellbeing, economic vitality, visitor captivation and appreciation of open spaces.