Arcata Community Forest
The newer Sunny Brae section of the Arcata Community Forest can be accessed at a turn of the road where a few steps lead into the forest. The houses are left behind quickly as it dives into the trees and starts to climb. It splits immediately into a bike route and a hiker route, but does not stay like this for long. I head up the steps and stop to study the sign briefly before continuing to climb up into the trees.
|Entering the Arcata Community Forest. A map to the right and the marked split for bikers or hikers to the left.|
This section of the forest is smaller and there is less possibility of getting lost among the interconnected trails. Mostly what I took in from the provided map is that I can go up and down via different routes, but had not quite got a plan. The biker and hiker routes join together into a road that twists upward. The sign for a loop trail to the side is too tempting even if it does not appear to be traveling upward at the start, so I turn to wander its curves.
|The start of the Beith Creek Loop.|
|And of course there are trees. They are not very big ones, but there are a lot of them.|
The trail splits and I start to take the left one only to find a gateway of sorts build up over it. A sign claims this is a one way trail heading downhill and that I should not enter it. It seems odd, but since I am just wandering, I let it be and continue along the other trail instead.
|Little tiny mushrooms popping up in the moss.|
There is a small roar of water up ahead which resolves into a creek. The water is a little muddy and it is still swollen from the last couple days of rain. It threatens wet feet, but I grabbed some waterproof shoes for the hike. Although low, they are enough to keep the water out as long as I select the couple steps through it carefully.
|A small creek ahead is a little muddy and swollen. The fallen moss covered trees to the right put me in mind of some giant green spider monster.|
|No bridge for these crossings, but there is plenty of trail construction to keep it intact.|
|There is a log bridge for those who do not like the crossing. It looks like no one but the plants is trying to use it.|
The trail winds around some more to a second creek crossing. This one roars a little louder because it is on a steeper cascade. It is also a little muddy and swollen from the recent rains. It takes a little more care to step across, but is not currently a problem.
|A little more water cascading down the hill side.|
|A touch of sun finds the tree tops.|
Even more roaring water can be heard ahead, but the trail never quite gets there. Instead it turns to follow along a steep ridge. A few times I need to step carefully because the trail is slick, but it is mostly good footing for now. It will become quite eroded with time and all the water that falls here. The climb reaches a few spots where the trees allow small views of the city and bay below.
|The flats below at the edge of the bay.|
The trail turns back and crosses over a few creeks again, but as might be expected, they are smaller crossings and can be reasonably hopped. At least for the most part.
|A large stump becomes the base for a number of younger trees and a planter for ferns.|
|The creek crossing and that stump from a different angle.|
|Continuing along the nice, graveled trail.|
The trail runs into a service road, as marked on the map, and a sign indicates the direction to continue on the loop. I notice none for the other direction to make sure people going that way get off the road and onto the trail. Now all but one creek is piped underneath, so no challenge to cross. One is surprisingly large as it gurgles below.
|Another view of the city and bay.|
The road returns to the Ridge Trail, finishing the loop trail. The rest of the loop is along the Ridge Trail or that one way trail I passed the bottom of. I still have not found the top of it. I climb up the Ridge Trail for a bit, which follows the continuation of the road I have been on.
|Rather easy wandering along the road through the trees.|
The trail crosses a chain link edged bridge and then there is a sign. This is the other end of the yet-to-be-built section of Ridge Trail that will join this section of the forest with the larger area. The road continues around for a distance that is not very far according to the map. I decide to turn back instead of continue along it.
|The rest of the road after a temporary sign stating, "Future Arcata Ridge Trail, still to be constructed."|
Back at the previous junction, I stick to the Ridge Trail, which actually is a trail for a bit. It quickly comes to another gate opening of sorts, this time time allowing entry for all but horses. I go for it. It does have some steep sections.
|An odd little opening marks the one way trail. I will make every effort not to skid while hiking.|
|Another bike through tree, but this one is just a slotted tree trunk. A faint bypass trail goes to the left about 40 feet before the tree.|
|Okay, it is a "single direction downhill trail". At the bottom after finishing.|
There is a sign at the bottom on the way out that implies this trail is really only for bicycles and I should not have hiked it. It notes that one is "entering shared-use trail" which does seem to indicate it is not a shared use trail. Meanwhile the admonishments "don't skid" and "reduce speed" would seem to apply to bicycles, not hikers. The Ridge Trail is probably a nice way down, too, and not much longer, for hikers who do not want to risk having a bike run them over. At the bottom, I turn to follow the same trail back down to the start.
|Wandering back through the trees.|
©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 January 2017