The Environmental Services Division of the County of Humboldt’s Public Works Department is excited to announce that the seasonal Freshwater County Park Dam has been successfully installed and the swimming area at Freshwater Park is ready for public use.
Freshwater Park is an eight-acre county park located at 3100 Freshwater Rd. approximately 3.5 miles southeast of Myrtle Ave. The County of Humboldt has owned and operated Freshwater Park since 1939. Freshwater Creek meanders through the park, and the park’s main attraction during the summer is a swimming area created by a seasonal dam, which has been installed since the 1920s.
The swimming area is created by installing a temporary dam across the creek. The dam facility, located in the southern portion of Freshwater Park, includes permanent concrete wing walls, sill, and retaining walls, and removable I-beams, flashboards, and a gate valve. Freshwater Creek drains into Humboldt Bay via Eureka Slough and provides habitat for fishery resources including Chinook and Coho salmon, and steelhead. Upon installation of the dam, the pool provides deep, cold water that is an ideal environment for salmonids. In 2010, funding was obtained through the California River Parkways Grant Program to construct a juvenile fish ladder to allow juvenile salmonids to move freely upstream and downstream of the seasonal dam. The concrete fish ladder is adjacent to the dam and is viewable by the public.
The last time the Freshwater Dam was able to be installed was summer 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and permit challenges related to drought conditions. In order to reinstall the dam, the Environmental Services Division needed to determine the flow threshold at Freshwater Creek and complete a successful review with federal and state regulatory agency partners, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Northcoast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Freshwater Park Hours of Operation, Fees, and Amenities
Freshwater Park is open from sunrise to sunset for a day-use fee of $5. In addition to the swimming area, Freshwater Park amenities include an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible playground, accessible routes to the volleyball court, picnic areas, and other locations throughout the park, and creek access. Restrooms are open and cleaned regularly, and parking is available subject to vehicle limits. The Freshwater Park gazebo area is open for group reservations through November 30. To make a gazebo reservation, call (707) 445-7651.
Tips for Visiting
The water in the Freshwater Park swimming area is cold, so visitors should prepare accordingly. For the safety of the public, please not use alcohol or drugs, including some prescription drugs, before swimming at Freshwater Park. Small children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or flotation device while swimming. Please note that the use of water wings is not recommended for small children.
Park visitors are asked to be courteous to other people at the park and respectful of the wildlife and plant communities. Dogs are not allowed. Camping, motorcycles, fires, and firearms are prohibited.
For more information on Humboldt County parks and trails, please visit the Parks and Trails web page or call (707) 445-7651.
A photograph from Tuesday, June 27 showing the waterline almost to its maximum level at the Freshwater Park swimming area. Image courtesy of Department of Public Works staff.