Great Redwood Trail Recon

Scouting the Great Redwood Trail

While California has a wealth of attractions, there are few that will leave a mark in the 21st century like the Great Redwood Trail. 

Any pathway covering half estate would be considered significant, but at over 300 miles this will provide one of the greatest opportunities in the nation to explore over railrood friendly grades.

While this trail is coming to us second hand thanks to the shuttering of the Northwest Pacific Railroad, there are so many jewels found like the Bizz Johnson coming as rails to trails conversions. 

Starting in San Francisco Bay, the Great Redwood Trail covers five counties including marin, sonoma, mendocino, a slice of trinity, and Humboldt.

This vision isn’t starting from scratch as the southernmost ten miles have already been converted, save for the Alto tunnel which the Marin County Bicycle Coalition is working with locals to reopen. 

It shifts in Larkspur, where the Sonoma Marin County Train authority controls the next seventy one miles with rail service currently extending to Santa Rosa.

Great Redwood Trail Agency’s Blue Lake to Cloverdale future section

Along this stretch, certain segments have already been completed through parts of San Rafael, Novato, Rohnert Park and Healdsburg.

The 101 highway follows closely the route for the first half, but in Cloverdale the Great Redwood Trail Agency takes control of planning for the rest of the 231 miles.

Rolling through Ukiah brings you through the largest city in Mendocino County followed soon by the “biggest climb” of the route averaging around 2% for nine miles before dropping into Willits.

Twelve miles, the Great Redwood Trail moves away from the 101 following the course of the Eel River presenting a new dynamic where your travels become more remote.

Great Redwood Trail Agency
You can comment on the Great Redwood Trail Master Plan until June 3rd

As the third largest watershed in the state, erosion is the biggest dilemma as the rail line had been plagued with landslides and even fires which were major factors in its closure, as you can still find remnants of rail cars in the river.

Currently, the closest to finding a town along the way is two-thirds of the way up before rejoining the 101 in Alderpoint, with its general store recently shuttered although the Great Redwood Trail is bound to offer more opportunities.

Entering Humboldt Redwoods State Park brings you back to the highway although you’ll have to venture onto the Avenue of the Giants if you’re in sudden need of nourishment.

The Master Plan is also engaging with a number of tribes the route crosses over with.

Scotia will be the next town directly on the map to stock up and right before passing through Fortuna and it’s lodging options, the first spur of the GRT points east to Carlotta as an opportunity to return it to a resort town again.

Turning away from the Eel River, it’s a quick breeze through the heart of Carlotta to the largest city on the coast between Portland and San Francisco in Eureka.

You can’t escape the Victorian flair in the downtown area which also carries out on a smaller scale in Arcata ten miles up on the bay.

Here, the second spur emerges going down the peninsula for ten miles through Manila, Samoa and Fairhaven closing before hitting the jettys.

Continuing north on the GRT, the route bends around the Mad River coming to its conclusion in Blue Lake.

Even breezing through this description,