If you want to see some really big and really old redwood trees in a fern-filled forest free of development, add the Headwaters Forest Reserve on California’s North Coast to your Summer Bucket List.
This 7,000-acre forest contains redwood trees that were growing well before European settlers arrived in North America. The oldest are 1,500 years old!
A good way to see the forest is from the Elk River Trail, just south of Eureka, Calif. It offers opportunities ranging from a casual stroll on a paved route accessible to those with walking difficulties to a 10-mile hike that will take you into a grove of ancient, towering redwoods.
Some options for your visit:
- Stride with your stroller along the first mile of paved trail.
- Take your time along the first mile of paved trail and learn about the natural and cultural history. The story unfolds in a series of interpretive signs along the way.
- Take your children on a quest and learn about the secrets of where wood rats sleep and the history of Falk, an old timber town whose remnants remain. Find a treasure at the final stop.
- Bring your lunch and picnic at one of the 2 tables along the interpretive trail.
- Stop by the Headwaters Education Center a half-mile up the Elk River Trail. If your timing is right, you might take in an informative talk in the center, which is a restored railroad locomotive barn.
- Hike the last 2 miles of single track trail to the old growth, and take in the grandeur of the old growth forest. Some of Headwater’s ancient trees are 300 feet tall.
- Arrange for a guided hike on the Salmon Pass Trail at the Reserve’s south end. Details are on the Arcata field office website.
The Headwaters Forest Reserve was established in 1999 to preserve the world’s last large unprotected stand of old-growth redwoods. For 14 years leading up to the establishment of the reserve, logging companies and environmental activists sparred over the fate of this area’s ancient redwoods. Today, the Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,472 acres of public land managed for the protection and study of the area’s unique ecological values including important habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, coho and chinook salmon, and steelhead trout.
Find more information at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/arcata/headwaters.html