Located approximately 5 miles inland from Humboldt Bay near Eureka, California, Headwaters Forest Reserve was established in 1999 to preserve the last unprotected large stand of old-growth redwood forest. Unique ecological values of the forest include
• a highly intact, functioning old-growth forest ecosystem that has very large redwood and Douglas –fir trees,
• a high diversity of plant species in the forest understory,
• nesting of threatened marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls, and
• undisturbed headwater stream habitat for threatened coho and chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
In addition to 3,088 acres of old-growth redwood forest, the Reserve contains 4,384 acres of previously harvested forests where resource specialists are currently implementing innovative projects to rehabilitate the physical and biological landscape.
The Reserve is also home to an historic, abandoned lumber town, Falk, which supported up to 400 people and a steam powered railroad logging operation from 1884-1937. One of the few remaining structures from Falk, the train barn, has been renovated into the Headwater Education Center, a place for visitors and students to learn about the unique natural environment and cultural history of the redwood forest ecosystem.
Maintained trails located on both the north and south ends of the Reserve provide recreational opportunities. The first 3 miles of the Elk River Trail, located on the north end of the Reserve, follow a narrow stream corridor along the South Fork Elk River, a prime spawning stream for salmon and steelhead. The last 2 ½ miles, referred to as the Little South Fork Trail, traverse moderately strenuous terrain beneath a closed tree canopy, ending at a majestic 1,000-year-old redwood grove. Round-trip, the Elk River Trail covers 11 miles. Many visitors remark on the quality of silence, unless they happened to hear a raven flapping its wings above or the bird mating season in full force between May and July.
The Salmon Pass Trail, located at the southern area of the Reserve, passes through young to mid-aged forests with views of restored watershed areas before ascending through old-growth forests with a view across Salmon Creek, the largest intact stand of ancient redwoods within the Reserve. The Salmon Creek Trail is moderately strenuous and is only available by reservation for guided hikes during the summer.
The Elk River Trail is open year-round, visitors are welcome to enjoy all the seasons in the Reserve. Weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends.
The Salmon Pass Trail is only open for visitation during the summer months, May 15 through November 15.
Weather at the Reserve is typically characterized by cool, wet, maritime conditions with rainy winters and cool to warm, cloudy or foggy, low-precipitation summers. The weather is more predictable in the summer and visitation is generally higher.
The winter can also offer nice days and the river itself is flowing more strongly with opportunities to view spawning salmon.
A Park Ranger is available to lead interpretive hikes of the Reserve. Reservations are made by contacting the BLM Arcata Field Office, 707-825-2300.
ADA Accessibility Notes
The first mile of the Elk River Trail and the parking lot is ADA accessible.
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are allowed on the first 3 miles of the Elk River Trail. They must be on a leash or under voice control at all times.
For More Information, Contact: