The Hammond Trail is a 5.5 mile multi-use segment of the California Coastal Trail in Humboldt County. Planning, environmental studies, and designs for the Hammond trail began in the 1970s and the final segment was completed in 2001. The Trail was constructed through private property and along a portion of the abandoned Little River and Hammond Railroad properties. The railroad line once extended from Humboldt Bay north to the town of Crannell.
The Hammond Trail provides adventure, history and beautiful vistas as it undulates along the Northern California coastline and stretches from the Arcata Bottoms northward to Clam Beach County Park near McKinleyville.
Starting from the southern trailhead, at the Mad River Bridge, your adventure of the historic Hammond Trail begins. You cross the Mad River pedestrian bridge. Its crest provides a magnificent overlook of the Mad River, where you are likely to see marine wildlife, such as seals and sea otters. Many bird species, including cormorants, grebes, herons, ducks and Aleutian geese, endangered until recently, also frequent the area.
Directly beyond the river the trail winds between coastal pastures partially protected by the coastal dunes to the west. You ascend a short hill into the western fringe of McKinleyville, an unincorporated town with a population of 15,000 people. The trail continues through residential neighborhoods to Hiller Park where you can take a restroom break, enjoy extra hiking trails, and a dog park.
Beyond Hiller Park the trail tunnels through a beautiful thick overgrowth of mixed conifer forest before opening up to spectacular bluff-side views of the Mad River and Pacific Ocean. Take a seat on a bench or continue on the trail to the Murray Road picnic area or Widow White Creek recreational loop trail. The Widow White Creek loop trail leads you north along the bluff then down along the creek and connects you back to the paved trail north of Murray Road near Highway 101. From the picnic area, the trail shares traffic with Murray Road for about 0.25 mile before turning north toward Widow White Creek.
The Hammond Trail north of Widow White Creek boasts more spectacular bluff overlooks and the Mad River Vista Point at Highway 101 before you descend a steep gravel grade to sea level. A short, paved section crosses Strawberry Creek just before the trail end at Clam Beach County Park. The trail can be accessed every day of the year and is pet and family friendly.
Trail Quick Facts
Length: 5.5 miles
Trail Surfaces: Asphalt, gravel
Trail End Points: Clam Beach County Park and Mad River Bridge on Mad River Road
- Hiking and Walking
- Horseback Riding
- Dog walking (on leash only)
- Accessible Areas and Free Parking available.
Parking and Trail Access
Access the Trail from the South in Arcata
Take Hwy 101 to Giuntoli Lane. Exit 2 miles north of Arcata, and go west on Janes Road. Follow signs to Mad River Beach, park at the pedestrian bridge.
Access the Trail from McKinleyville
Take the Murray or School Road exit off of Hwy 101 and head due west.
Access the Trail from the North
Take Clam Beach exit off of Hwy 101 and head west. Look for the parking area and trailhead signs.
Located south of McKinleyville and northwest of Arcata, the 540-foot-long steel structure crosses the Mad River and serves bicycles and pedestrians.
Funding and Partnerships
Funding provided by:
County of Humboldt
California State Coastal Conservancy
The State Coastal Conservancy provided funding assistance, technical expertise, as well as non-financial and was a key partner in the planning, design and completion of the Hammond Trail.
- Redwood Community Action Agency
- State Coastal Conservancy
- McKinleyville Community Service District
- McKinleyville Chamber of Commerce
- Humboldt Bay Waste Water Authority
- Backcountry Horsemen of California
- Local Businesses
The Coastal Conservancy is a California state agency, established in 1976, to protect and improve natural lands and waterways, to help people get to and enjoy the outdoors, and to sustain local economies along California’s coast. It acts with others to protect and restore, and increase public access to, California’s coast, ocean, coastal watersheds, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Its vision is of a beautiful, restored, and accessible coast for current and future generations of Californians.