15 APRIL 1999
Todd Dayton, MSN Sidewalk San Francisco
Looking for virgin territory to explore this summer? An ancient stand of
coast redwoods in northern California, accessible only on foot over
rugged terrain, is one of the newest additions to the nation's public
Spanning 7,400 acres in Humboldt County, the Headwaters Forest Reserve
became public property on 1 March when the Bureau of Land Management and
the state bought the land from private owners.
DAY HIKE AMONG THE GIANTS
At the heart of the reserve is a 3,000-acre grove of coast redwoods,
some more than 1,000 years old and 300 feet tall. The reserve is
located about 30 miles south of Eureka, California (about 250 miles
north of San Francisco). An access road brings you to the trailhead,
essentially an abandoned logging road that winds 5 miles though second-
and third-growth forest and clearcuts÷a stark reminder that not all of
the venerable trees escaped the saw.
Much of the trail is extremely steep and demanding. Rangers recommend
that hikers allow 7?9 hours for the 10-mile roundtrip, and that they
carry plenty of food and water.
THE FOREST PRIMEVAL
To view the giant trees, follow the trail to its end at a massive
hillside clearcut. A hundred yards away is the park's namesake, the
Headwaters Grove, standing massive and nearly impenetrable, and towering
over the skeletal remains of the forest that once surrounded it.
Park officials plan to meet this fall to discuss the possibility of
cutting trails through that part of the forest. For now, hikers can
explore about a quarter mile into the grove before difficult topography
and extremely dense woods make it unwise to venture much deeper.
In keeping with the park's "reserve" status, large portions of the area
will likely remain without trails in order to maintain undisturbed
habitat for the forest's endangered residents, including the marbled
murrelet (a species of seabird) and spawning coho salmon.
IF YOU GO
The reserve is zoned for day use and is open only to foot traffic÷that
means no mountain bikes, horses, or camping.
To get to the reserve, take Elk River Road from Hwy. 101, just south of
Eureka. Follow the road 6 miles until it ends at the old logging road
(basically, the trailhead). By midsummer, park officials expect to
complete a permanent access point 30 miles south of Eureka, near
For maps and other information, call, write, or visit the Bureau of Land
Management field office at 1695 Heindon Rd., Arcata, CA 95521-4573;
Tel.+1 (707) 825-2300.
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