On this past Saturday, the third Humboldt Trails Summit was attended by over 225 people on the Humboldt State University campus. The Sunday Times-Standard reported on state Sen. Mike McGuire’s town hall meeting about efforts to transform the deteriorated and unused railroad right-of-way into the Great Redwood Trail. While this is a very important development, the rest of the story occurred during the first half of the trails summit, during which Hank Seemann, Deputy Director of Humboldt County Public Works shared a number of exciting developments on the local trails scene and non-profits related to trails, local city representatives and other government agencies staffed tables and shared trail updates during an open house. Here is some of the news:
Humboldt Bay Trail: $13.3 million in construction funds were recently awarded from the State’s Active Transportation Program to complete the remaining four miles of the 14-mile Humboldt Bay Trail. This complicated stretch of trail lies between the Eureka Slough and Bracut. The county will install a special product on the Eureka Slough railroad bridge designed to allow access for walkers, cyclists, and Timber Heritage Association speeders. The county is working through right-of-way, final design, and permitting with a goal to break ground in 2021. Seemann also reported that the community has raised nearly $300,000 for the Humboldt Bay Trail Fund (with a goal of $500,000 by the end of 2020).
The McKay Community Forest Trails: The Trail Plan for the McKay Community Forest is nearing finalization. The draft plan includes 27 miles of multi-use roads and dedicated hiking and mountain bike trails. A parking area has been constructed in Cutten along Northridge Road that should open soon and the California Conservation Corps has started preliminary site work to support upcoming trail building.
Trails South of Eureka: The City of Eureka has secured construction funds to extend the Hikshari’ Trail 1.3 miles south across the Elk River along the existing railroad corridor to a new trailhead at the Spruce Point exit to Humboldt Hill. This project will advance progress toward the goal of linking Eureka, King Salmon, Humboldt Hill, Fields Landing, and College of the Redwoods with facilities for safe walking and cycling.
Annie and Mary Trail in Arcata and Blue Lake: Blue Lake will construct a half-mile segment of the Annie and Mary Trail along Railroad Avenue to Chartin Road this summer. Arcata has begun the planning process to extend a multi-modal trail north from Sunset Avenue to Aldergrove Industrial Park and Valley West, and potentially connecting to Mad River Pump Station No. 1.Highway 255 Trail in Manila: This half-mile mile trail on the northwest side of Highway 255 in Manila extends from Pacific Avenue to Carlson Road and is scheduled for construction in 2020. There will be an extension to the Friends of the Dunes Nature Center property.
Trails in Fortuna: One of the inspirational stories from the summit was the recent ribbon cutting for a 0.7-mile gravel trail along the railroad corridor north of Fortuna in honor of long-time Fortuna community booster Dennis Wendt. Sean Swanson and the River Life Foundation have worked tirelessly to clear the area along the Eel River of illegal encampments and support people to re-connect with family and find employment. Fortuna continues to advance the proposed John Campbell Memorial Greenway and Strongs Creek Trail.
Redwood Coast Mountain Bike Association/Green Diamond Resource Company Collaboration: RCMBA volunteers, in accordance with a recreational use agreement, are working diligently to construct some outstanding mountain bike trails on Green Diamond property south of Blue Lake.
Bay to Zoo Trail: The city of Eureka continues to work toward the vision for a Bay to Sequoia Park Zoo Trail.
That’s not all. The Arcata Ridge Trail continues to take shape. The Trinidad Coastal Land Trust, Bureau of Land Management, California State Parks, and Redwood National Park continue to expand and enhance their trail systems. These are busy and exciting times for trails on the North Coast. While the legislation to create the Great Redwood Trail from Humboldt to Marin County is a wonderful development, we also want to highlight the local projects already in progress.
Deputy Director Seemann spoke about the many benefits of trails and how trails can connect our communities and connect people to our natural assets like Humboldt Bay. Trails are most successful with broad community involvement. Consider volunteering as a trail steward or giving money to support the Humboldt Bay Trail Fund or, most importantly, get out there and use our trails!
Rees Hughes resides in Arcata.