Tunnel Travel in Loleta

Old Railroad tunnel beneath Highway 101 just north of Loleta, Humboldt County, CA. [Photo by David Wilson, May 23, 2018.]

Looking for an adventure with your kids? Or with your friends?

Dive beneath the earth and trek through the Old Railroad Tunnel near Loleta this year. Photographer David Wilson captured these two images yesterday and they point out a bit of the history carried within the darkness. Back in 1884, according to the North Coast Journal, the Eel River and Eureka Railroad had crews build a tunnel through Table Bluff.

Now it is a sweet and sorta secret hike that is just a little creepy.

The tunnel entrance on the southwest side of Hwy 101 [Photo by David Wilson, May 23, 2018.]

To hike to the west entrance of the tunnel, start about a half a block west of the Loleta Cheese Factory in Loleta. On the north side of Loleta Drive, west of the old Humboldt Creamery, is an empty lot with a sign labeled “Hiking Trail.” Follow that trail north and east to the tunnel under Hwy 101.

Depending on who you talk to, the trail is approximately three miles round trip. Here’s a blog post detailing the adventure one family with small children had while hiking the trail.

Remember to bring a flashlight. It’s dark!

What are some of your favorite local low-cost adventures?



  • Any Ghosts??? Usually old railroad tunnels have their fair share of Uncrossed Entities!!!

  • Some times they come back .

  • So much for it being somewhat low key. Smh.

  • I see some of our local trash has had their way with it. Sickening.

  • Just watch out for all the tweakers and bums.

  • No tweakers or bums. Lots of empty spray paint cans though! The east side is wet; we went through a few months back and couldn’t get out the east side because there was standing water over tops of our boots. It’s an easy walk back to the tunnel from Loleta although a section of culvert is washed out, but you can just walk down and around. Grab grilled cheese sammiches at the Loleta Cheese place afterwards…

  • If you go, I recommend bringing a good flashlight. It’s not as light as the interior photograph above looks; that image makes use of long exposure to bring up the darkness. Our eyes can’t do that, so it looks much darker in there to us, closer to the way the photo from outside shows it.

    • Yes, we had a small flashlight between 3 people and half way through it pooped out and then you can’t see anything at all except the two ends. I tell ya, you loose it quick. Luckily that was in the days I still carried a Zippo. Still it was a long way to get out trying to recall my last fill up. Hi Dave, spent a lot of time with you in the HSU darkroom back in the day. Nice stuff!

      • Far out, Chuck! Those were the days. Weren’t they? So many late nights in the HSU Art darkroom. I’d be singing the Beatles’ “I’m So Tired” to myself and thinking, “Just ONE more print…” “One more…” “ok ONE MORE…”

        • I am not Chuck, it was you me and Doug fighting over the color machine in those daze, I was the weird one. A simple search doesn’t give me a website, got one? Ellen, Vaughn, Mia, Buzz, Alex, lab teching the midnight watch…

  • Another railroad tunnel to hike through is between Shivley and Larabee. This one has a curve and for a bit you can not see the light on the other side. A side note about walking on railroad rails… If there are two of you and if you touch finger tips while walking side-by-side you won’t loose your balance off the rail.

    • I went thru it with my girlfriend (now wife) in the 70’s. Train was running, luckily theirs a blow hole that vents towards the river…we rode it out in there til it passed. She still punches me when I tell the story. Lol

  • My cousin and I walked through the Island Mountain tunnel many years ago. A little under a mile if I remember right. Now that was dark.

  • amazing graffiti museum! what will the wo/man of the future Dagobah System think of our tags?

  • I thought the railroad Community discourage people from going into that because it’s supposed to be dangerous.

  • You for got a little piece of information. The tunnel is right under a cemetery. I grew up in loleta and went threw that tunnel more times than you can count. I have even been almost to the other end and had the train come and had to run like forrest gump to get back to the other end. Let me tell you not fun. The railroad ties have gravel between the but as you get further in to the tunnel theres less rocks. So when you step you want to step on the railroad ties. I dont know why that is but just a bit of information. I have taken my kids down there many of times it is part of or local history the house i grew up in is right off the tracks. The whole tweeker and bum thing take some where else. The worst you might see would if you went at night and caught some local youngster sneaking out and hanging out cuz its scary!

  • Shannon Johnson

    I used to walk that tunnel all the time as a kid it takes about 20 minutes to walk through. It’s about a 30 minute walk to get to the tunnel from town loleta. It is colder inside of the tunnel but it’s worth the walk.

  • That Tunnel runs underneath the Cemetery

  • Wade Worthington

    One day in the summer of 1989, back when the trains were still running, I hiked the tracks from Loleta’s town center to experience this tunnel. While walking through the tunnel I was a bit worried that a train might come but back then I seem to remember trains only running at night. As I was getting close to the other side, I saw the body of a man laid out across both rails just outside of the entrance. It was very odd and I remember approaching feeling very alarmed and concerned. As I stood above this guy who might have been in his 30’s and who appeared to be unconscious, I asked, are you ok? His eyes then shot open and he answered “yes”. No explanation nor did he get up. “Oh” I said and I turned around to go back through the tunnel. Several yards later I turned to look back to get another look at him, and I noticed he was gone. Weird!

  • Owwoooooooooooooooo! Is that a ghost howling?

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