Arcata Community Forest
The Ridge Trail starts at the extreme north end of the forest in a newer, tiny piece of the forest sandwiched between the freeway and a lumber yard. Parking is just along the side of the road a few feet east of the overpass and the marking for it is an unassuming sign on a fence set back from road. The sign is a larger version of the crest used to mark the route along the trails further up. Making my way through the mud and around a corner onto the graveled trail, a much more informative sign showing a map and the rules of the area comes into view. The trail continues on a raised bit of land between a swampy area and a creek. The mass of mosquitoes in the area in spring is reportedly enough to turn some back, but for today there are only a few of the creatures.
|Starting down the Arcata Ridge Trail as if follows a narrow neck of land.|
|The lumber yard is quiet on this Sunday. It is also quite flooded, but they have dammed the outflow of the yard.|
|Gravel on the trail helps it hold up to use in the rain. The hidden creek to the right provides most of the sounds along the trail today.|
Of course I was expecting redwoods since that seems to be most of what is found in the forest south of here. Along the creek, there seem to be more firs and something without any leaves. Cottonwoods, probably. They are caked in moss. Funnily enough, some are only mossy on the south side due to them leaning and that being the upper side. Once past the yard, things start to open up and the industrial sights hide a bit behind the trees.
|Thick moss on one of the trees.|
|A very nice trail through the trees.|
|Swampy areas to the left.|
|The creek to the right is occasionally visible with a little effort.|
The area of non-development opens up even more as the trail dumps onto a road. It is also graveled, now with larger rocks, making the wet route easy to walk along. The big redwood stumps start up quickly followed by actual, smaller redwoods.
|One of many large redwood stumps. They draw the eye making interesting shapes. A memorial plaque sits beside this one.|
|At first the splintered form looks like a natural fall, but looking closer there are notches cut into the side.|
The trail crosses into an easement through private property and finally starts climbing. Although it is along a long ridge, the only indication of this while hiking it is that the creek falls away eventually. My expectation for the day was that it would be threatening rain the whole way, but it has gotten positively sunny now. Although tall redwoods soon dominate, the road leaves plenty of open space to let the sun in.
|A bit of trail climbing gently along the ridge.|
|Sometimes the trees open up enough to see a little distance like this. This really is some good distance.|
The road splits and I keep to the ridge. A gate that once blocked further travel from the other side marks the far side of the easement area. Those big stumps continue to catch the eye with their shapes, especially when burned out. At the top, there is a junction. I see none of the little crests to mark the Ridge Trail route here. It is surprisingly unfamiliar even though I wandered past it before. I take the route to the right, which is probably still considered the Ridge Trail, but only to the next junction. This one is more familiar. This is as far as I mean to take this trail. I keep right and right again to loop around eventually on trail that I have not been on. The trail is briefly crowded as I get near a couple neighborhood trailheads.
|A burned out stump particularly catches the eye.|
|The trail is actually trail through here as it passes a less interesting cut stump.|
|A bridge before the trail starts to climb again.|
The trail crosses the road, but I keep to the trail. This drops down to South Fork Janes Creek below. I can hear the creek long before I see it. Unfortunately, the trail is not graveled through here. The mud is particularly slick in some areas. Intact twigs from the redwoods overhead do tend to help steady steps, but not so well as the gravel elsewhere.
|Carefully following the muddy trail down toward Janes Creek.|
|A hidden creek again.|
The trail crosses a bridge and turns into a road. It is graveled now, but also quite flat. There are a couple crossings of the creek as it follows the side.
|The road as it travels beside Janes Creek.|
|Young, but quite tall trees.|
There is a short climb as the road climbs up to the Ridge Trail to join it on the way down. The sunny sky is turning to grey again and even a few drops as I follow the same route back to the car.
|Clusters of mushrooms found on a rotting redwood log.|
|About six inches of banana slug making its way across the trail.|
|An interesting lichen on a tree trunk.|
©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 February 2017