Little River property makes Hammond Trail extension possible

Matthew Marshall, center, shakes hands with Neal Ewald, Vice President of Green Diamond, after a ribbon cutting ceremony today. At right is Don Allan of the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust. JD | Union

Matthew Marshall, center, shakes hands with Neal Ewald, Vice President of Green Diamond, after a ribbon cutting ceremony today. At right is Don Allan of the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust. JD | Union

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

LITTLE RIVER – An important step in expanding the Hammond Trail north across the Little River was celebrated today, July 9, as a chunk of land needed for the project was transferred from Green Diamond Resource Company to the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust.

The event was marked with a ribbon cutting and short presentation after 1 p.m. today at the cul-de-sac located at the south end of Scenic Drive. That spot may eventually serve as a northerly trail head for a car-free bicycle and pedestrian pathway that would extend on the west side of the freeway from Scenic Drive to Crannell Road.

There’s no time-line for the project. When it gets built will depend upon the availability of grant funding.

A 2014 feasibility study estimated that the project would cost about $4 million to $5 million to build, with the most expensive portion being the crossing at Little River. (Here's the study:Little River Trail Feasibility Study _Public Final )

Don Allan of the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust said that the mostly likely option for crossing the river is to build an extension on the west side of the U.S. Highway 101 bridge. The path would have a barrier separating it from highway traffic.

Before advocates for the project could move forward, they needed to acquire 14 acres of property owned by Green Diamond Resource Center at the south end of Scenic Drive. The property, which is now owned by the land trust, rises above the Little River and includes about 1,000 feet of riverfront property.

The land was purchased by the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust from Green Diamond for $80,000. The money came from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which funded the State Coastal Conservancy, which in turn passed the grant funding over to the local land trust.

Allan said that for now, the property will be managed as open space while efforts continue to build the trail.

“It’s going to take a lot of patience,” said Emily Sinkhorn of Redwood Community Action Agency, which is working on the trail effort.

When completed, the project would provide bicyclists with a pleasant route extending from Arcata to Trinidad with either minimal vehicles or zero vehicles, depending on what section is traveled on.

This map shows a possible route for the trail.  From Little River Trail Feasibility Study by RCAA

This map shows a possible route for the trail. From Little River Trail Feasibility Study by RCAA

From Arcata, bicyclists can now travel on the narrow, lightly trafficked roads that cut across the Arcata Bottom. At the Mad River, cyclists have a dedicated pedestrian/bicycle crossing – the Hammond Bridge – which delivers them to McKinleyville.

The Hammond Trail slices north through McKinleyville, from the Hammond Bridge all the way to Strawberry Creek at Clam Beach. Long stretches of the Hammond are Class I, car-free trails, with some sections sharing residential streets.

At Clam Beach, bicyclists can stay off the highway and travel on the frontage road, which has minimal traffic and extends to the Crannell Road overpass. That’s where bicyclists have to get on the freeway, if they want to continue north, crossing the Little River and exiting at the first Westhaven offramp.

From there, Scenic Drive offers a spectacular alternative, with traffic remaining light until the entrance to the Cher-Ae Heights Casino. A short distance away from the casino is the City of Trinidad.

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