Wetland Walk:Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge

water and barn

Feel like immersing yourself in nature but don’t feel like getting wet or exhausted? Then the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge ( sometimes that link is down so try this one) is the place to go for a short jaunt. The Shore Loop trail is only1.7 miles of flat and well-maintained grass and gravel. Thousands of birds wheel and call overhead or settle in contented flocks on the water beside the path.

otter humboldt

Birds aren’t the only critters you’ll see. Today, as I stole an hour from my town chores, I watched two otters sleekly swimming alongside the path. They kept a wary eye on me but seemed at ease. (I want a telephoto lens so I can take these pictures right!)

geese

In an hour, I strolled the whole trail, stopping to take photos, inhale the smell of salt, and listen to birds call, cry, screech, hoot, twitter…

I hadn’t planned on the walk so I was dressed in dressy black leather shoes and a silk blazer. When I was through, I wasn’t anymore mussed than if I had been window shopping at the mall. . . And my shoulders were a lot more relaxed.

This calming, peaceful highlight of the Humboldt Park system can be found just a few miles south of Eureka. Take the Hookton Rd. exit and follow the signs to an avian paradise.

God, we’re lucky to live here!

 

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58 comments

  • Such a beautiful day! I especially love the photo of the river otter – so peaceful.

  • Where else could you be just a few miles outside a city and see otters? Amazing.

    I heard today on NPR that we’re becoming a nation which mediates our nature (we prefer to view it on tv to actually being out in it.) I understand that not everybody is fit enough to hike in the mountains but often nature is easily accessible. And so nourishing to the soul.

  • Where else could you be just a few miles outside a city and see otters? Amazing.

    I heard today on NPR that we’re becoming a nation which mediates our nature (we prefer to view it on tv to actually being out in it.) I understand that not everybody is fit enough to hike in the mountains but often nature is easily accessible. And so nourishing to the soul.

  • One can’t really appreciate nature by watching it on TV, although TV does give one virtual access.

    Last time I went on that loop we were heavily invaded by large mosquitos, but I think that was in June.

  • One can’t really appreciate nature by watching it on TV, although TV does give one virtual access.

    Last time I went on that loop we were heavily invaded by large mosquitos, but I think that was in June.

  • The Otter looks like “The Puddle Ness Mini-Monster”.

  • The Otter looks like “The Puddle Ness Mini-Monster”.

  • I have really seen that wildlife refuge come along over the years. You also have to give the Ducks Unlimited folks kudo’s for helping to establish and preserve that area. I’m kind of curious what the McBride Ranch looked like prior to now. You can see where the dikes were built to control the flow of water. Kym, next times take the Hookton Road trail. That’s a nice flat, yet long trail out to the edge of the bay. When they let you go out there.

  • I have really seen that wildlife refuge come along over the years. You also have to give the Ducks Unlimited folks kudo’s for helping to establish and preserve that area. I’m kind of curious what the McBride Ranch looked like prior to now. You can see where the dikes were built to control the flow of water. Kym, next times take the Hookton Road trail. That’s a nice flat, yet long trail out to the edge of the bay. When they let you go out there.

  • Ya know, I still haven’t been down to wander the refuge since it was dedicated a few years ago. Haven’t hardly explored anything south of the Arcata region since most of my travels take me more northerly. I need to, now especially that I’m discoverin’ a bit about birding, and tryin’ the old hand at nature writing. Thanks for sharing the experience with the rest of us, Kym.

  • Ya know, I still haven’t been down to wander the refuge since it was dedicated a few years ago. Haven’t hardly explored anything south of the Arcata region since most of my travels take me more northerly. I need to, now especially that I’m discoverin’ a bit about birding, and tryin’ the old hand at nature writing. Thanks for sharing the experience with the rest of us, Kym.

  • Carol, There were a few, very few small gnats but they just floated –no biting!

    Ernie, He does look kinda blurry and far away like all Nessie pics do. I want a telephoto so you could see how wise his eyes were.

    Ekovox, I wonder how many folks realize how much the hunting groups contribute to wildlife areas? I usually have my little guy with me and he isn’t quite up for the long walks yet. But I want to try the Hookton Rd. trail.

    Bob, You’ll love it. Even though it is incredibly accessible, it’s more full of wildlife than most remote and difficult to access areas. I’m looking forward to seeing some of your birding writing. I enjoy your blog but I especially enjoy the nature writing.

  • Carol, There were a few, very few small gnats but they just floated –no biting!

    Ernie, He does look kinda blurry and far away like all Nessie pics do. I want a telephoto so you could see how wise his eyes were.

    Ekovox, I wonder how many folks realize how much the hunting groups contribute to wildlife areas? I usually have my little guy with me and he isn’t quite up for the long walks yet. But I want to try the Hookton Rd. trail.

    Bob, You’ll love it. Even though it is incredibly accessible, it’s more full of wildlife than most remote and difficult to access areas. I’m looking forward to seeing some of your birding writing. I enjoy your blog but I especially enjoy the nature writing.

  • I haven’t been on this trail before. Have you tried the Arcata Bird Sanctuary place? I used to go their occasionally to eat my lunch when I was working. It’s been a few years since I was out there, but the number and variety of birds I saw was amazing!

  • I haven’t been on this trail before. Have you tried the Arcata Bird Sanctuary place? I used to go their occasionally to eat my lunch when I was working. It’s been a few years since I was out there, but the number and variety of birds I saw was amazing!

  • I have gone out there but not for a few years. But you’re bringing back good memories. I’ll have to go again.

  • I have gone out there but not for a few years. But you’re bringing back good memories. I’ll have to go again.

  • The Arcata Marsh is lovely and soothing, as well, but the Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge really gives you that sense of being “away,” even though it’s a quick jaunt to get out there. The fact that each end of the bay features protected, accessible patches of nature is a wonderful thing.

  • The Arcata Marsh is lovely and soothing, as well, but the Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge really gives you that sense of being “away,” even though it’s a quick jaunt to get out there. The fact that each end of the bay features protected, accessible patches of nature is a wonderful thing.

  • The bay is amazing. I love the Samoa spit too.

  • The bay is amazing. I love the Samoa spit too.

  • I was married at the Wildlife Refuge in the McBride homestead before they tore it down a few years ago. The homestead was 100 years old, but they didn’t preserve it. I wish they had.
    The new building doesn’t do the place justice. Hunting groups preserved that area for birds to stop and rest on their southern migration. Although it has been used for hunting there, it’s primarily to preserve the species of ducks that have run out of places to safely land and find food on their long flights.
    It’s a give and take arrangement.
    It gets little attention, but it’s one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been. Hence the reason the Redneck wanted to tie the knot there.

  • Dang, why did I type “their” when I meant “there”? I hate it when that happens.

  • Dang, why did I type “their” when I meant “there”? I hate it when that happens.

  • If you drive out Hookton Road to the Ocean there is another great walk: Ocean Ranch. It is to the left before the lighthouse ranch, which was recently purchased by the Federal Government. Hunting is allowed there as well as at the National Park during hunting season, which is either over now or will be soon. The Ocean Ranch trail takes the hiker down to the slough and over to the ocean. Just be careful and go with other people. Sadly, the old coastal barns are disappearing by either falling down or have burned down. Two have been lost at the Ocean Ranch.

  • If you drive out Hookton Road to the Ocean there is another great walk: Ocean Ranch. It is to the left before the lighthouse ranch, which was recently purchased by the Federal Government. Hunting is allowed there as well as at the National Park during hunting season, which is either over now or will be soon. The Ocean Ranch trail takes the hiker down to the slough and over to the ocean. Just be careful and go with other people. Sadly, the old coastal barns are disappearing by either falling down or have burned down. Two have been lost at the Ocean Ranch.

  • Jen, I wish they had preserved the old place too. I love the wetlands and the exhibits too but I’ve always felt the new building felt a touch…chemical…inorganic…? I can’t find the right word but it doesn’t sit well there. Not that the shape is so wrong more the materials the building is built out of…?

    I think getting married there is wonderful! It has just the right feel for such a special time!

    Aunt Jackie, Don’t worry spelling mistakes are par for the course in comments. I wish there was a 2 minute do over option like some comment sections have.

    Carol, I can’t wait to try the walk you suggested but why only go with others?

  • Jen, I wish they had preserved the old place too. I love the wetlands and the exhibits too but I’ve always felt the new building felt a touch…chemical…inorganic…? I can’t find the right word but it doesn’t sit well there. Not that the shape is so wrong more the materials the building is built out of…?

    I think getting married there is wonderful! It has just the right feel for such a special time!

    Aunt Jackie, Don’t worry spelling mistakes are par for the course in comments. I wish there was a 2 minute do over option like some comment sections have.

    Carol, I can’t wait to try the walk you suggested but why only go with others?

  • For safety reasons, Kym. It can be rather rough and isolated out there. (It is my mothering instinct talking)

  • For safety reasons, Kym. It can be rather rough and isolated out there. (It is my mothering instinct talking)

  • Since You’re younger than I am and I’m a tough old bird, I’ll just let someone know where I’m going and go because otherwise I’ll never get a chance.

    I hope to go in the next couple of weeks.

  • Since You’re younger than I am and I’m a tough old bird, I’ll just let someone know where I’m going and go because otherwise I’ll never get a chance.

    I hope to go in the next couple of weeks.

  • This time of year should be OK. During hunting season, it is not a good time. There is a gate that may or may not be open, but there is a place to park next to the gate. If the gate is closed, you can park , and walked down the road towards the slough. It is one of my favorite places to go.

  • This time of year should be OK. During hunting season, it is not a good time. There is a gate that may or may not be open, but there is a place to park next to the gate. If the gate is closed, you can park , and walked down the road towards the slough. It is one of my favorite places to go.

  • I don’t know how much younger I am than you, Kim. I think we were both born in 1960.

  • I don’t know how much younger I am than you, Kim. I think we were both born in 1960.

  • You are right. We are the same age. Somehow I had it in my mind you were born in ’62. I’m not sure where I thought I read it though. Ekovox was born then too. Interesting that so many, relatively speaking, Humboldt bloggers are from that time.

  • You are right. We are the same age. Somehow I had it in my mind you were born in ’62. I’m not sure where I thought I read it though. Ekovox was born then too. Interesting that so many, relatively speaking, Humboldt bloggers are from that time.

  • 1960 was a very good year!
    🙂

  • 1960 was a very good year!
    🙂

  • Now…If I can just get the class reunion rolling;>

  • Now…If I can just get the class reunion rolling;>

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  • I live at the top of Humboldt Hill Road next to a lovely 165 acre parcel that is in danger of being developed. It is directly above the Wildlife Sanctuary and habitat to many of the migratory birds, foxes, raccoons, mountain lions, skunks, hawks, owls, and other indigenous life. I am attempting to contact the Refuge to see if we can somehow have it added to it, which is visible from the pasture and obviously an important part of the biosphere. Here is a link to a google sattelite map so you can see the close proximity of the parcel to the sanctuary:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Humboldt+Hill+Rd,+Eureka,+CA+95503&sll=40.73009,-124.20201&sspn=0.032391,0.052872&ie=UTF8&ll=40.697299,-124.224129&spn=0.064814,0.105743&t=k&z=13

    The developers are attempting to get The Planning Commission to punch a hole down from the top of Humboldt Hill Road to TOmpkins Hill Road so they can have secondary access to start building. If you are at all excited about having more beautiful land and wildlife habitat added to the Refuge,PLEASE write the Planning Commission before Sept. 18, 2008 and tell them to NOT allow the road to go through for 7500 Humboldt Hill Road. I am working my butt off trying to find someone who would help create a land trust to purchase this land before this habitat is lost FOREVER! Here is a link to the Planning Commission’s feedback site:
    http://co.humboldt.ca.us/planning/feedback/
    Thanks for your help!

  • I live at the top of Humboldt Hill Road next to a lovely 165 acre parcel that is in danger of being developed. It is directly above the Wildlife Sanctuary and habitat to many of the migratory birds, foxes, raccoons, mountain lions, skunks, hawks, owls, and other indigenous life. I am attempting to contact the Refuge to see if we can somehow have it added to it, which is visible from the pasture and obviously an important part of the biosphere. Here is a link to a google sattelite map so you can see the close proximity of the parcel to the sanctuary:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Humboldt+Hill+Rd,+Eureka,+CA+95503&sll=40.73009,-124.20201&sspn=0.032391,0.052872&ie=UTF8&ll=40.697299,-124.224129&spn=0.064814,0.105743&t=k&z=13

    The developers are attempting to get The Planning Commission to punch a hole down from the top of Humboldt Hill Road to TOmpkins Hill Road so they can have secondary access to start building. If you are at all excited about having more beautiful land and wildlife habitat added to the Refuge,PLEASE write the Planning Commission before Sept. 18, 2008 and tell them to NOT allow the road to go through for 7500 Humboldt Hill Road. I am working my butt off trying to find someone who would help create a land trust to purchase this land before this habitat is lost FOREVER! Here is a link to the Planning Commission’s feedback site:
    http://co.humboldt.ca.us/planning/feedback/
    Thanks for your help!

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