Hiking and mountain biking close to town
HIGHLIGHTS: Along with Humboldt State University, the City of Arcata is home to California’s first municipally owned forest. This 790-acre tract of second-growth redwoods is used for education, recreation, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration and sustainable timber harvesting. A significant portion of the net revenues from the timber yield is used to acquire and develop parks and open space. Located mere blocks from downtown Arcata, the forest is a popular hiking and biking destination. The forest also is rich in wildlife, including 144 bird species. Some endangered and threatened wildlife species are found here, including coho salmon and northern spotted owl. The forest also supports several rare plant species, California lady’s slipper.
ACTIVITIES: The park has a large network of trails, and is a much-beloved resource for hikers and mountain bikers. It’s also an excellent place for picnics and birdwatching. Trail link adjoining Redwood Park and its picnic areas, public meeting spaces and a playground.
VISITOR CENTER: 600 South G Street, Arcata.
CAMPGROUNDS: None. RV can access the park for day use only.
TRAILS: The forest has 19 miles of trails. Some trails are reserved for hikers, while others are shared by hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. The 4.1-mile Community Forest Loop Trail provides a good overview of the forest. The trails are numbered and interconnected, allowing visitors to adjust their itineraries to the terrain; many routes are easy and relatively flat, while others are fairly steep.
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: The fall migratory songbird migration is an especially productive time to look for birds in the forest; the varied thrush, a robin-sized bird with striking orange-and-dark-gray markings, is particularly abundant in the redwoods during autumn. During the spring, the forest burgeons with blooming trillium.
HIDDEN GEM: The newly completed 3-mile Beith Creek Loop Trail in the Sunny Brae Tract features two waterfalls that are at their best in the winter and early spring.
FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Restrooms and picnic areas in adjacent Redwood Park are accessible, as are limited sections of trail in the community forest.
DOGS: Dogs are allowed on leash.
ENTRANCE FEE: None.
SPECIAL EVENTS: A variety of volunteer forest projects and tours are available throughout the year. Invasive plant removal, trail construction and a variety of guided interpretive tours are some of the ongoing events offered annually. Contact the Environmental Services Department by email or call 707-822-5951 to inquire about dates of these events. You also may check the City of Arcata Recreation Division webpage. Particularly noteworthy: The city’s Environmental Services Department hosts an annual spring wildflower walk in the forest’s Jacoby Creek Tract. Two big days on Arcata’s calendar are the Kinetic Grand Championship and the Arcata Bay Oyster Festival. A visit to the community forest is a good addition to these events.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit the forest’s webpage or call 707-822-7091.
PLACES TO EAT AND STAY: The city of Arcata has a few motels and several restaurants. Eureka offers additional options.
California’s Redwood Coast website (external site) offers resources to help plan your trip to Humboldt County.
EAT: Christine Aralia, Land Project Manager, recommends eating at Cecil’s (external link) for New Orleans fare in Garberville.
On the drive to the park, Regan Ranoa, Outreach Manager, loves to stop at Bluebird Cafe (external link) in Hopland (along 101 heading north to Mendocino or Humboldt) and order some pie.
Megan Ferreira Derhammer, former League staffer, suggests a stop in Arcata to pick up a picnic lunch at Wildberries market (external link).
STOP: If you need a place to stop and rest your head, Christine suggests the Benbow Inn (external link).
DON’T MISS: Dave recommends the drive-through tree in Leggett.
Tell us your favorite stops, hikes, places to eat, and more when visiting this park!
- Smith River Kayak Tour
- Forest Walk: Meet at Stout Grove Trailhead
- Junior Ranger Program at Jedediah Smith Campground
- Junior Ranger Program: Mill Creek Campground
- Night Sky Viewing
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Acres Protected by the League: 175
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