The 7,472-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve (Reserve) was established in 1999 after a decade-long grassroots effort to protect the world’s last unprotected, intact, old-growth redwood forest ecosystem. Several threatened species call the Reserve home, including coho salmon, the northern spotted owl, and the marbled murrelet. Deep in the heart of the Headwaters, old-growth forest is the beginnings or headwaters of the South Fork Elk River and Salmon Creek. This is how the area got its name. The Reserve is managed by the BLM in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
There are two public trails in the Reserve. The Elk River Trail winds along the South Fork Elk River for 3 miles, followed by a 2-mile ascent to a short loop through an old-growth redwood forest. Interpretive signs along the first mile of trail describe the history of Falk, the historic company mill town once located along this section of trail.
The Salmon Pass Trail, open by guided tour only, passes through spectacular old-growth and second-growth redwood forest on the south side of Headwaters. Tour guides provide a unique perspective on redwood forest ecology.