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
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6031542

Hammond Trail Description

Undulating along the Northern California coastline, the 5.5-mile Hammond Trail provides adventure, history and beautiful vistas. Constructed along a portion of the abandoned Little River and Hammond Railroad properties, the railroad line once extended from Humboldt Bay to the town of Crannell. Today it represents a beautiful, well-used segment of the California Coastal Trail.

Start at the southern trailhead, close to the Mad River Bridge, where the excitement of the historic Hammond Trail begins. You cross the river on a 1942 steel truss bridge, which replaced a wooden covered bridge built by Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Co. in 1905. The current bridge was brought in from Coos Bay. 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 you enter an interesting habitat partially protected by the coastal dune lands to the west. You ascend a short but steep hill into the western fringe of McKinleyville, an unincorporated town of 13,000. Stop by the local market for a cool drink and some fresh, locally picked mushrooms before heading to Hiller Park for some extra hiking and a restroom break.

Beyond the park the trail tunnels through a beautiful thick overgrowth of flora before opening up to spectacular bluff-side views of the Pacific Ocean. Take a seat on a bench or continue on to the trail, a paved section fusing the once separated northern and southern sections into one dream ride. This road-side section shares traffic with Murray Road for about 0.25 mile before turning toward Widow White Creek and a beautiful dune loop foot path.

The Hammond Trail north of Widow White Creek boasts more spectacular bluff overlooks before you descend a steep gravel grade to sea level. Lesser advanced riders typically walk this section, which allows plenty of room for passing. A short, smooth section crosses Strawberry Creek just before the trail end at Clam Beach County Park. Turn around and ride back to the bridge or arrange to be picked up. The trail can be ridden every day of the year, although the area often experiences rain in the winter.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the southern trailhead, take US 101 to the State Route 200/Central Avenue/Turner Road exit in McKinleyville. Make a slight left after exiting onto SR 200/Central Avenue. Continue for 1.1 miles and turn left (west) onto School Road. After 1 mile, turn left on Fischer Road and follow signs to Mad River Beach for 0.2 mile. Parking lot is on the left.

To reach the northern trailhead, take US 101 to the North Central Avenue exit north of McKinleyville. Continue for 0.2 mile and turn left onto Central Avenue. Continue for about 200 feet on Clam Beach Drive. A parking lot is at the end of the road.

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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