Hammond Trail


6 Reviews

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Hammond Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: Humboldt
Length: 5.5 miles
Trail end points: Clam Beach State Park at Clam Beach Dr and Mad River Bridge on Mad River Rd (McKinleyville)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Dirt, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6031542

Hammond Trail Description

The Hammond Trail pays homage to the Redwood Coast’s timber industry. Named for a major local lumber company, the asphalt, gravel, and dirt trail follows the route of a former railroad that hauled timber out of the expansive Humboldt County redwood forests to the Hammond Redwood Co. in Samoa on Humboldt Bay, a few miles south of where the trail ends today.

Along the 5.5-mile route, you’ll pass through farmland and forested bluffs overlooking the Mad River, as well as beach-access points. The trail is a segment of the California Coastal Trail, a network of bicycling and hiking trails that, when complete, will stretch along the coastline for 1,230 miles from Oregon to the Mexican border.

Hammond Lumber Company got its start in 1863 and eventually gained control of the Humboldt Northern Railroad, which ran between Humboldt Bay in the south and the company town of Crannell in the north. The company stopped operating the railroad in the 1950s, and the first segment of the Hammond Trail opened in 1983.

The trail starts in the south at a trestle crossing over the Mad River. According to local lore, the river earned its name during an 1849 expedition when a surveyor launched into a memorable and expletive-filled tirade when his fellow explorers began crossing the river in their canoes without him.

The trestle itself is due for replacement. The original span, a covered bridge built in 1905, was replaced in 1941 by a bridge relocated from Washington state and reassembled here. Today the bridge provides a scenic overlook of the area and the opportunity to see marine mammals, such as seals and sea otters. Many bird species, including cormorants, grebes, herons, ducks, and Aleutian geese, endangered until recently, also frequent the area.

Crossing the bridge, you’ll share the road with lightly used Fischer Avenue for about a half mile to a short climb into the community of McKinleyville. You’ll find a grocery at School Road, where a 0.3-mile spur trail to the left leads you to within sight of the Mad River. Continuing north on the Hammond Trail, you’ll arrive at Hiller Park in 0.7 mile. Here, about 1.5 miles of paths meander through native coastal trees to a bluff overlooking the Mad River and a long sand spit separating it from the ocean beyond. 

Leaving the parking lot at Hiller Park, the trail follows a woodsy corridor north 0.9 mile to a trail split. The Hammond Trail, which travels the paved right fork—traces Murray Road east on a 0.3-mile bike lane, then heads north alongside US 101/Redwood Highway. The gravel left fork overlooks the Mad River and ocean along a wooded bluff before turning inland back to the Hammond Trail via the hiker-only Widow White Interpretive Trail. Bicyclists and horseback riders can use the spur to Sandpointe Drive to get back to Murray Road.

The remaining 2.4 miles of trail are both paved and dirt as the route travels along the highway—and a half mile on Letz Avenue—to Clam Beach County Park, which is popular for beachcombing, horseback riding, and, of course, clamming. You’ll also find beach campsites and restrooms. The park is connected to the north with Little River State Beach to create a 5-mile stretch of beach.

Parking and Trail Access

In Arcata, parking is available at Hammond Trail Trailhead (789 Mad River Rd).

In McKinleyville, parking is available at Hiller Park (300 feet north of the intersection of Hiller Rd & Fischer Ave), at Clam Beach County Park (1100 Clam Beach Dr), at 3451 Letz Avenue, and at the intersection of Murray Road and Kelly Avenue.

Visit the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.

Hammond Trail Reviews

Trail has promise but…

We parked at the North Clam Beach parking lot. Best section of route is along the beach access road. Once we bicycled onto path surface then trip went downhill. First was a fire on the dunes started by a homeless person, then several homeless people on route sleeping in bushes. Rogers Market on the trail had questionable folks who were very inquisitive about our bicycles. Then the Mad River Bridge while beautiful was covered with graffiti from end to end. Trail ends just as you exit bridge. Never got a really warm, relaxing vibe on this route, and we don’t need to ride this trail again.

Good trail with beautiful view


Spectacular Ocean Views! (July 2016)

We took bicycles and parked the car at a small lot in the middle of the trail; Murray Road east until it dead-ends almost in the ocean.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day with blue skies, sunshine and warm, but not hot. We took many beautiful pictures!
Suggestions: Take light snacks and water. Do not bother stopping at the campground restrooms on the north end of the trail - they are just pits, smelly and flies. Best restrooms were at the park south of the middle where we parked; very clean and tidy, without foul smells. Where the trail meets in the middle, it is a residential area and the owners on both sides of the trail sign have absolutely wonderful, colorful flowers in their front yards. We took our time, stopping to "smell the roses" so to speak, and just enjoy the outdoors and scenery. There were people of all ages on the trail, biking, jogging, walking and in strollers. It is a wide path and easy to navigate. I grew up in Humboldt County and this was the first time I had been on this trail - they don't have trails like this in SE Florida, where I now reside. :-)

Enjoy the coastine!

A wonderful trail! At the south end eter from the Arcata side, you are greeted by the Mad river. Enjoy the Arcata bottom area, before entering the Hammond trail.

Now in Mckinleyville, a short hill after the mad river bridge, then it is flat for a long ways. Not too long up the trail you will reach Hiller park - picnic tables, kids playground, single track trails, batting cage, baseball fields, bathrooms, and probably more.

Just north of the the park it's a pleasant area with lots of tree coverage. Shortly you'll begin to see ocean views. The farther north you go the more intense, and closer the ocean access becomes. Most areas of the trail will have tree coverage.

A few hills exist along the entire trail, but they are very manageable. You also have numerous access points with parking areas, if you prefer to drive then walk segments of the trail.

The far north end is Clam beach, you have full access to the beach from this area. Actually from Hiller park you can access the mouth of the Mad river, but you need to be more familiar with the area, to know what single track trails access the area off of the Hammond trail.

One segment of the trail north of Clam beach, the trail is gravel. Though a short segment everything else is paved. Be prepared for a bit of a hill in that gravel area, but it offers a wonderful overview vista of the ocean, and you can even find a bench halfway up the hill. North of the gravel it's flat and a bit windy with dunes to your west. It's en exciting stretch as you know you're reaching Clam beach.

My experience is riding a bicycle from downtown Arcata, and sometimes all the way up to Clam beach, then back. Not matter how often, or far I ride the bicycle, it's always a wonderful, and relaxing ride. At Hiller road just south of Hiller park head east to the main part of town. If you would like drinks, food, ice cream, etc. You'll find all you need at the foot of Hiller, just a short ride!

Enjoy the coastline!


Hammond - Contiguous

The Hammond is now a break-free trail with the Southern and Northern sections fused. Traveling mostly on a freshly paved asphalt trail, the new section does include a small distance on a lightly trafficked road. New signs have been placed along the trail to help users navigate the section as well. Photos and downloadable data of the new section should be posted shortly.

Watch out for the cow piles!

"August 1st: We accessed the trail at the South end as it starts up the bridge approach. The view from bridge was great. Other than the bridge, the only hill of any size came immediately after leaving the bridge ramp and passing 6 million cows waiting to be milked. The farmer let them loose on the trail right just as we passed. We made it up the steep hill in record time as the cows were heading for the barn! On the way back – cow plop city! The rest of the paved trail is a pleasant ride through nice neighborhoods and past palatial homes. The paving ends at the beach but continues on as hard-paced gravel."

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