Arcata Field Office

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Directions to Headwaters 


Vicinity map of the Headwaters Forest Reserve area, located in Humboldt County, California. This map shows the general location of Headwaters Forest Reserve as south and east of Eureka, California in northern Humboldt County. This map cannot be made fully compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If you need help using the information here, please contact the Arcata Field Office at (707) 825-2300 and reference the Headwaters trail map webpage.


Headwaters Forest Reserve

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The Headwaters Forest Reserve has two access points, the Elk River Tralhead and the Salmon Pass Trailhead. The Elk River Trailhead is open to the public year-round, while the Salmon Pass Trailhead is accessible by guided hike only. Call the BLM at 707-825-2300 to reserve a spot on a guided hike.

Elk River Trail and the Headwaters Education Center (north end)

The Elk River Trailhead (north end) is open all year. Parking is available at the trailhead parking lot. The Headwaters Education Center, open for special events and sundays from June through August, is located approximately 0.5 miles from the Elk River Trailhead. Simply park at the trailhead and hike, bike, or stroll the short distance to the Education Center.

How to get there:  To access the north end of Headwaters along the Elk River, take the Elk River Road exit off Highway 101, at the south end of Eureka. Turn right onto Elk River Road and drive approximately six miles to the Elk River Trailhead parking area.  

Trail Information: The first 3 miles follow a narrow stream corridor of public land that parallels the South Fork Elk River. The first mile is paved and accessible for those with limited mobility. Bicycles and dogs (under owner’s control) are allowed on the first 3 miles. 

The last 2 ½ miles wind beneath a closed tree canopy, ending at a small old-growth redwood grove. Please stay on the trail to avoid trespassing and to protect the area’s natural resources.

Distance:   It is 5 miles to the old-growth and ½ mile through the old growth loop, for a total 10.5-mile trip.

Difficulty : The first 3 miles traverse moderate terrain adjacent to the river. The remaining 2 ½ miles are moderately strenuous. Plan 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours for the first 3 miles and 2 to 2 ½ hours for the last 2 ½ miles.

Salmon Pass Trail (south end)

The Salmon Pass Trail (south end) is accessible for guided hikes only. Guided hikes can be scheduled between May 15 and November 15 (weather permitting) by contacting the BLM Arcata Field Office at (707) 825-2300.

How to get there: The Salmon Pass Trail is located in the southern part of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, and is accessible only through BLM led guided hikes. This trail is located near the city of Fortuna.

Trail Information: The first ½ mile passes through a young to mid-aged forest with views of restored watershed areas. The next 2 miles ascend through the old-growth redwood forest with a view across Salmon Creek to the largest stand of Douglas-fir within the Reserve. The trail then loops back as it descends through the old-growth.

Distance and difficulty: This 2 1/2 mile hike is considered moderately strenuous and takes 3 to 4 hours.


The Elk River Trailhead in Headwaters marks the start of the Elk River Trail

A guided hike on the Salmon Pass Trail in Headwaters


Bureau of Land Management
Arcata Field Office
1695 Heindon Road
Arcata, CA 95521-4573
Phone: (707) 825-2300
Fax: (707) 825-2301
Office Hours: 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F

Contact us by email at Headwaters@blm.gov