Walking through a forest of Sitka spruce and beach pine you’ll notice that the soils are turning to sands beneath you, trees peter off at the edge of the beach, where the winds and waves have shaped shifting dunes. Rains and human activities erode the rock formation of the Bald and Klamath mountains filling the Eel river with sediment. Though two dams on the Eel hold back sediment, the remaining drainage releases sands into the Humboldt Bay a little south of Eureka. Coastal currents pull those sands along the coast. Strong coastal winds create the large waves able to push up these sands. Winds blowing perpendicular to the beach help stack up sands on snags like drift wood and vegetation creating these dunes. While the summer’s calm waves see the creation of dunes, the winter’s storms and large waves whip out some dunes, bringing sand sediments offshore to wait for the return of summer.
Native grasses and wildflowers help stabilize the shifting sands of the dunes. Two of these stabilizing plants are listed federally as endangered species, the Humboldt Bay wallflower and the beach layia. The Western Snowy Plover that uses the dunes open sands for nesting is also listed as threatened as invasive European Beach grass gives shelter to its predators.
These dunes make up a portion of their traditional lands of the Wiyot tribe, who have used them for generations, for surf fishing, berry collection, and collection of grasses and other plants for basket making. Grasslands all over the world have been among the ecosystems most impacted by human land use, and the dune grasslands are no exception. The maintenance of these native plant species help support Wiyot cultural traditions. The Manila Dunes and the plants and animals found there are important resources for the Wiyot and provide an essential habitat that has been impacted by human land use and colonization.
Friends of the Dunes leads guided dune walks on the second and fourth Saturday of every month at 10:00 a.m., or call 444-1397 to schedule a tour.
Seasons Open: all
Hours Open: daylight
ADA Accessibility Notes
not at this time
Stay on the trails please. Dune systems are easily eroded away and high traffic can leave openings for invasive plants like European beach grass and yellow bush lupine to take over habitat from native species.
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are allowed on a leash or under voice control. Please pick up dog waste.
Horse use is limited to designated trails.
For More Information, Contact:
Manila Community Center
1611 Peninsula Drive, Arcata, CA 95521-9658
(707) 445-3309 · fax 707-444-0231