[UPDATE 12:43 p.m.] 101 Closed North of Leggett; What Are the Options?

A slide rumbled over Hwy 101 yesterday at Bridges Creek about six miles north of Leggett blocking the road.

Reader Erin Bear sent in this video of the hillside throwing rocks onto the highway about 6:16 p.m.

Caltrans then shut down this main southern route out of Humboldt County. They stated, “A slide has covered both lanes; there is currently no estimated time to reopening and there are no alternate routes available.”

Depending on what works for you, here are the possible routes south and what that means.

Hwy 299 to Hwy 5:

Berry Summit today on Hwy 299. [Photo from Caltrans]

  • Take Hwy 299 exit from 101 north of Arcata.
  • Slide at Big French Creek is the main obstacle. The highway is only open at certain times. Here they are:

Daily schedule (weekdays and weekends) as follows:
Morning: 5:30 am to 7:30 am
Single Opening: 10:00 am
Single Opening: 12:00 noon
Single Opening: 02:00 pm
Afternoon: 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Overnight: 6:30 pm to 5:30 am with 1-hour delays….Every Sunday, the detour is open starting at 5:30 am and continuing all day until Monday at 7:30 am, with one-way traffic control and up to 30-minute delays.

  • A commenter on Trip Advisor says, “[I]t’s a good highway, but very twisty.”

Hwy 36 to Hwy 5:

country road

Typical stretch of Hwy 36 taken several years ago.

  • Take Hwy 36 exit south of Fortuna at Alton.
  • This rural route is narrow, curvy, beautiful, and will have more traffic on it now that 101 is closed.
  • Gas up as stations are few and far between.
  • Not for the fainthearted. One person wrote on Tripadvisor, “the curves and lanes are ONLY for motorcycles.” Another said, “I definitely believe in god,angels and prayers after my survival of highway 36.”

Bell Springs Road:

Bell springs road. Dirt dropoff

Bell Springs Road has many rough spots that will only get rougher today with increased traffic. [Photo from a reader taken yesterday.]

  • This is a Humboldt County/Mendocino County Road. It is not well maintained following the recent storms. We do NOT recommend it.
  • We won’t give directions to it but you can Google Map it.
  • It is dirt.
  • It is already in bad shape because of the storms.
  • If you don’t regularly drive dirt roads, don’t take this road.
  • From Redway through Bell Springs to Hwy 101 north of Laytonville, it took one experienced local driver two hours this morning.
  • One local who took it last night said, “I survived… I can’t believe I did that…One part was horrific on my car…[S]omeone is going to get stuck at that one place, and I’m glad it wasn’t me”
  • We’ve added a video of what one reader called “the worst spot.” 
  • Caltrans Traffic Incident Information Page states, “A lot of traffic is attempting to use this road and spinning out.” Then adds that CHP unit will “stop traffic from coming up Bell Springs Road.”

UPDATE 11:32 a.m.: The California Highway Patrol offers this information:

On March 9, 2017 at approximately 1830 hours, a large rock and mud slide occurred on U.S. Highway 101 approximately three miles north of the Standish Hickey State Recreation Area in Leggett, CA. The slide had spilled over temporary concrete railing near the roadway and brought down a catchment fence. Due to the potential for additional slides, as well as the damage to the concrete railing and catchment fence both the north and south bound lanes of U.S. Highway 101 were closed. U.S. Highway 101 northbound was closed at State Route 1 and southbound was closed at the southern most portion of State Route 271 in Piercy, CA. Cal-Trans crews continued clean-up efforts throughout the night. Cal-Trans will continue to work on the slide throughout the day and evaluate the conditions of adjacent hillside and the roadway. Cal-Trans has advised they hope to have one lane of the roadway open by later today, in order to alternate traffic through the area but the highway will remain closed until their Geologist’s deem it is safe to allow traffic through.
Currently the alternate routes of travel for passenger vehicles and light trucks are State Routes 36 and 20. The current alternate routes of travel for larger commercial vehicles are State Routes 20 and 199.

For additional updates please refer to the Cal-Trans District 1 Facebook page on the following link.

UPDATE 12:43 p.m. Friday: Good News! Traffic is Traveling Through the Hwy 101 Closure



  • North of leggett or north of piercy?!

  • Bell Springs .There are pot holes that will swallow a Prius .There are pot hole fields you have to come to a complete stop then go real slow and wade thru then continue .

  • I have property on Bell Springs Road and Do Not recommend it!! The road is in really bad shape and getting worse every day. But if you do decide to go that way, you should have 4wd and for gods sake drive slow!!

    • AnonymousHumboldtian

      I can’t believe people even try to drive dirt roads in 2wd cars in the winter. People don’t have very much common sense.

  • I LOVE taking the 36. It’s wonderful, if you drive like me; slowly and at the speed limit.

    • I love 36, too! My all-time favorite drive! Used to go over it for a weekend excursion, spend night in Red Bluff and come back next day! Bikers love it, too. But go for the scenery and take it easy, easy, easy — it’s not a road for “getting there.”

  • What about Usal Road out of Four Corners? Now that’s a nice road! I can imagine that it’s in wonderful shape about now…

  • Same old same old

    I predict the tow trucks will be busy up Bell Springs Rd today.

  • Coastal friends, if you haven’t been over 36 lately and need to take this route, be prepared.
    With the extra traffic, especially truck traffic, from 299 being closed since last fall combined with winter’s copious rain the roadway has taken a beating. Small landslides, rocks, and slipouts are common.
    Drive on your side and at a speed appropriate for the conditions and you’ll be fine. But plan extra travel time so you can.

    • I LOVE the last sentence in your post DOT, thanks. Fortuna 2. Chris

    • Just took 36. It is very windy but beautiful. There wasn’t much traffic. It took about 3 hrs to get to Redbluff. Fuel up before you leave Fortuna. I didn’t see any services.

  • No time for tow trucks locals will do the yanking I think I’ll head up that way right now and yank some bumpers off of some Toyota Prius . I’ll be the guy driving the big white Dodge diesel with the big black cloud of smoke coming out of the tailpipe in classic pig style

  • So is north bound affected?

  • Thank You Kym!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am in Sacramento visiting family was planning to return home today, I do so appreciate all that you do for our community

  • Mendo_NotsoHappy

    Why even tell ppl about bell springs road.. its not a good road to drive if you don’t have 4 wheel drive… you can lose a vehicle in a pot hole… and Why make that much more traffic up in the hills…

    • Because so many people are talking about it that there is no ignoring it anymore. I thought it best to say, yes this way through exists (though I don’t give directions) and then talk about the problems.

    • I know that the mention defiantly helped me. My iPhone ONLY gave me the option of taking Bell Spring Rd. with a notification of “may have unpaved roads” it striked me as odd but almost looked over it since I have driven unpaved roads before. But reading this article we decided to it was worth the time of an extra hours of driving than chancing it with that road.

      • Thank you, Emily. I know from the number of requests privately that I am getting that gps is suggesting this route. For most people, it is not a good option and for locals, it is horrible to have their road chewed up by folks who don’t know how to drive it.

  • Santa Rosa…so close, so close and yet so far away…..

    Probably won’t be making that flight this afternoon!

    Mother Nature: 1 Grandma’s 100th Birthday: 0

  • If you decide on 36 please watch behind for pickups that are locally known as grow dozers. Find a safe turn out and let them go by. These idiots will try anything to pas you if you’re slow and careful🚘

    • Janet has it ever occurred to you that you’re slow and careful may not be someone else’s slow and careful no need to call people idiots because they live there they may know the road a little bit better than you they may drive it to or three times a day so slow and careful to you may mean something totally different to someone else don’t be so judgmental quit being such a biddy!!!

  • Kim are you hearing that Cal Trans may reopen 101 today or is it true that there are talks of not reopening until Monday

  • Before driving, check with the Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) 800.427.7623

    SR 36


    Whichever route you take, I agree with all of the above comments. Please drive slowly and safely for the road conditions

  • Don’t go south for a few days.

  • AlternateRoutes

    Please, please don’t take Bell Springs! Any more traffic and the road will literally fall down in at least 3 places, not exaggerating…

  • We are borrowing money from China to pay our Healthcare insurance premiums while our roads, bridges, and dams are crumbling away.

    • You’re borrowing money from China for health insurance???
      Wrong. Borrowed a couple trillion to pay for conservatives oil wars though!
      Read a fucking book!

      • Gloria Johnston

        Not even close . Money was borrowed to pay for Obama’s stimulus package.! California Governor Moonbeam has chosen not to put money toward infrastructure. He is too busy trying to make California a sanctuary state to worry about the Oroville dam The sad state of the roads are not important enough to warrant consideration. We had better hope that the last chance grade does not go or we will all be in big trouble.

        • I’m certainly glad you are not in government Gloria. Don’t know how people like you come up with this stuff. But keep being distracted by all those ‘foreigners’ invading your home and ruining your life, while Drumph lines his and his cronies pockets and laughs.
          Oh, enjoy the triple prices for your food next year too.

    • No we borrow from China so we have enough money to give away to countries that hate U.S. and to be the Worlds Policeman! We literally give away hundreds of billions of dollars everyday!

  • Any tips for people who are stuck coming north who are stuck before Legget? What are there options for getting back into Arcata/Eureka?

  • DO NOT TAKE BELL SPRINGS ROAD unless you live there. There are no gas stations or services. You can get stuck very easily and its awful for the folks who live on the road to have the road degraded more, if too many people take it, it will probably wash out too then theres no way for anyone to go. 36 is a crazy drive and going too slow is just as bad as too fast. Change your plans and just deal.
    You can also go up 101 to 199 to 5 but thats a long route and who knows when last chance grade is gonna give out.

    California hasnt raised the fuel tax that pays for infrastructure since 1994. Now its gonna be way more expensive for gas all at once instead of slow increase over time.

    Nature bats last, shes reminding us to be humble and its good prep for the big quake thats gonna make us an island. The world does not revolve around your plans, sorry, its an opportunity to either work yourself up in a fervor about something you have no control over, or roll with it&accept it&move on.
    Good life training!
    Just calm yourself and wait, cal trans may get it open sooner than later, you never know. Its like when an airplane is delayed due to weather, its better to wait and be safe. Isnt it better to wait rather than have a huge boulder roll down and pancake you in your car

  • The county is falling behind real fast in road work. You should ask them kym how they plan to fix all of these problems in a timely fashion. Because these riads need to be fixed within the next 3 months is all.
    Your readers kym want to know.

    • There are two major entities in charge of our roads. One is county government and they handle roads like Bell Springs. And the other is state and they handle roads like Hwy 101. Though the area has been promised federal disaster funds, this last winter was so bad that it’s going to take more than three months to fix our roads.

  • We were stuck on the south side of the slide last night. We found out about it when we got to Willits. We thought about all of the alternate routes and decided against them. We are locals but know better than to tread out to areas we are not familiar with especially in the dark. We doubled back and took the 20 to I-5. From there we went north to Red Bluff and to HWY 36. These are roads we know and we were home by 4:30AM this morning. Be aware that there were big rigs on that route as well that may not know the route as well as you!

  • 8:49 p.m.
    9:01 p.m.

  • We were heading north for home last night and got stopped by the slide moments after it happened. We waited with other traffic and turned around at 6:45. At the junction of 101 and 1, where there was quite a traffic jam, we asked the CHP officer about the passability of Bell Springs Road, which she advised against. She said all routes were closed, including 36 and 299. We drove south and decided to take our chances on Bell Springs Road. It is slow going but it is definitely passable. We have all-wheel drive. There are four sketchy places but we went slowly and we were fine. We are also incredibly grateful to the father-son team who drove ahead and behind us the entire way to Garberville, like guardian angels on a dark, unfamiliar road. I don’t know if conditions have changed overnight, but we started our journey at 7:50 pm and pulled into Garberville, very relieved, at 10:30. Take your time, move slowly, be ready to pull over for oncoming traffic, and you’ll should be fine, if you really need to make the trip.

  • Veterans friend


  • Please don’t tell people to take bell springs road
    It is for local traffic only.
    The road is dangerous on a good day.
    I am on the fire department and I really don’t want to have to pull bodies up cliffs today
    Thank you.
    I would appreciate it if you removed this option.
    It’s for locals only and highway patrol will ticket.
    I have had to deal with accidents in the past from this

    • Mark, I don’t tell people to take it. I tell people not to take it and I don’t give directions. That said, people know it is there and are going so I offer testimonial and photos of why it is a bad choice.

  • I agree with Mark Switzer. Bell Springs shouldn’t be suggested as an alternate route. Locals know about it & will decide on their own whether to take it or not. People passing through or who are unfamiliar with it should not even try.

  • Holy cow just made it over usal road in my big Dodge White smoke blowing diesel would not recommend that one for anyone had to winch myself in two spots that road is strictly for adventure which is what I seek !!

  • quick question – 299 is open, but with a detour around French Creek?

    We have HSU kids coming home, so thank you in advance for your help!

  • 36 wasn’t bad last night. I guess it helps that its dark i couldn’t see how bad the road is. At least I made it to my flight in Sacramento at 8am today 🙂

  • Our roads were bad to begin with. Please no more money for trails,just our roads. Our vehicles get beat to shit on our roads,it’s expensive to keep fixing our rigs. I think I will send my repair bill to our government,for not using our tax money to fix our roads. It’s not our fault they don’t know how to run a government and use our tax dollars for wasteful shit! Just venting.

  • humboldthomebound tomorrow!

  • Re: the video, if you’re the type of driver that takes a minute and four seconds to drive over that, please stay off our back roads. Thanks.

  • we passed by the closure on 101 on 03/10 at around 6am. 101 was still closed but we had to get to San Francisco for a flight. I liked the part where one of the guys told us to cross at our own risk and that the area was still active.

  • My daughter lives in Arcata and we just went for a visit. Northern CA is beautiful but the roads are ridiculous. I am adding these posts to my book of “Reasons Why I Live in Detroit”

    {Don’t post anything bad back to me.. I really do love California !}

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