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Headwaters Forest Reserve

Elk River Trail

From an educational hike along the first mile of trail to an 11-mile hike to an old-growth redwood forest, the Elk River Trail offers something for everyone. The Headwaters Education Center, located 0.6 miles from the Elk River trailhead, offers events and educational displays.

Trail map of Headwaters Forest Reserve Elk River area, located in Humboldt County, California. This map shows Elk River Trail in detail with topographic lines and points of interest along the trail.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.

How to get there: To get to the Elk River Trail (north end of Headwaters) 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 (following brown directional signs) to the Elk River Trailhead. To get to the Headwaters Education Center, hike or bike up the paved trail from the trailhead for 0.6 miles.

The Elk River Trail (north end) is open all year. Parking is available at the trailhead parking lot.

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. Interpretive displays line this section of trail with an emphasis on the now-defunct town of Falk. 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 11-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.

A visitor to Headwaters riding the Elk River Trail on a bike

Visitors on the end of the Elk River Trail in an old-growth redwood forest

The Headwaters Elk River Trailhead sign


Bicycling dogs allowed Wildlife Viewing Accessible

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Contact Information

Bureau of Land Management 
Arcata Field Office
1695 Heindon Road 
Arcata, California 95521-4573 
Phone: (707) 825-2300
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