BLM opens new trail, announces events, to celebrate 20th anniversary of Headwaters Forest Reserve

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Arcata Field Office


Northern California DO

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Tall trees tower over a lush, green forest. Photo by Bob Wick/BLM.ARCATA, Calif. – Public events in July and August mark the 20th anniversary of establishment of the Headwaters Forest Reserve.  Free events include opening of a new hiking trail, a short film premiere, a guided walk and a writing workshop.

“We look forward to joining with our partners and the public to celebrate new public access into this unique redwood forest reserve that continues to provide for conservation of habitats and threatened species,” said Molly Brown, manager of the BLM Arcata Field Office.

On Saturday, July 20, the BLM Arcata Field Office and Friends of Headwaters will officially open the South Side Trail, a 1.6-mile trail open only to hikers on the north side of the Reserve.  The new trail intersects the existing Elk River Trail, a shared-use route open to hikers, dog walkers and bicyclists.

Users of both trails can continue to the Headwaters Education Center for the premier of “Headwaters Forest Reserve: Celebrating 20 Years.”  The film will be shown continuously from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The five-minute film by local videographer Thomas Dunklin chronicles the history of the Reserve and its importance.  It presents a timeline of ecological restoration, education activities and public recreation access developed over the past two decades.

Other special events include:

  • Nature Writing Workshop, Sunday, July 21.  North Coast writer Jerry Martien will lead the hour-long session starting at 1 p.m. at the Headwaters Education Center, about a half-mile from the Elk River Trailhead.  Martien will guide participants through his process of “listening” to nature and “translating” what is heard into poetry and prose.
  • Native Plant Walk, Thursday, Aug. 1.  Park ranger Julie Clark and botanist Jennifer Wheeler of the BLM Arcata Field Office will lead the two-mile, two-hour walk on the Elk River Trail and present information about Headwaters’ native plants.  Participants should meet at 10 a.m. at the Elk River Trailhead.

The BLM also announced that the entire five-and-a-half-mile length of the Elk River Trail has been reopened, thanks to the hard work of crews from the California Conservation Corps who built a bypass trail around a winter landslide.

Hikers, bicyclists and dog-walkers are welcome on the lower three miles of the Elk River Trail, while the upper two-and-a-half miles, including a loop into an ancient grove of redwood trees, are open only to hikers.  

To reach the Elk River Trailhead take the Herrick Ave. exit from Highway 101 at the south end of Eureka and turn onto Elk River Road.  Drive about six miles to the Elk River Trailhead parking area.

The 7,472-acre Headwaters Forest 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, including coho salmon, the northern spotted owl, and the marbled murrelet benefit from the Reserve’s habitat.

Deep in the heart of the Headwaters are old-growth forest stands and the headwaters of the South Fork Elk River and Salmon Creek. This is how the area got its name. The BLM manages the Reserve in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Information on Headwaters history, resources and recreation access is available by visiting  Information is also available by contacting the Arcata Field Office at 707-825-2300.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.