Great Redwood Trail Bill Signed Into Law

Great redwood trail map

[Map from here]

Press release from Senator Mike McGuire’s Office:

Senator Mike McGuire’s landmark legislation that seeks to turn the crumbling 300 mile North Coast railroad line into the Great Redwood Trail was signed into law by Governor Brown today. The Trail would extend from the glistening shores of San Francisco Bay to the panoramic waters of Humboldt Bay and would run through some of the most dramatic landscapes on earth including wine country, alongside the banks of the Russian and Eel rivers and into the stunning old growth Redwood forests of the North Coast.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about the Governor’s action, which will launch one of the most significant positive transformations we’ve seen in a generation here on the North Coast — taking a crumbling rail line, managed by a functionally bankrupt public agency, and turning it into a world-wide wonder of a trail and economic driver for Northern California,” said Senator Mike McGuire. “It’s time for us to move beyond the old debates and begin the process of turning this 300 mile rail line into a world class trail and destination that generations will enjoy.”  

The State Transportation Agency, along with the California Natural Resources Agency, will begin the all-important master planning process for the Great Redwood Trail by examining potential trail alignment, trail construction and long-term management costs, terrain suitability, rail banking potential, property easements and the possible governance structure of the trail. The planning process could take two years to complete.

McGuire is thrilled to now have the Natural Resources Agency as part of the study, since they specialize in trails and park issues, and could potentially be part of the eventual ownership of the Trail.

The State Transportation Agency will also complete a study of Northern California Railroad Authority’s (NCRA) significant debts and liabilities while developing a road map to closing the agency down. This process could also take up to two years to complete.

In the meantime, NCRA’s freight rail mission is dramatically reduced. They are now simply charged with cooperating with state authorities on the study and creating an agency shut-down plan while preparing for the transitioning of the right of way for trails.

The Great Redwood Trail will become a significant economic driver for the rural North Coast communities it winds through. California outdoor recreation is one of the fastest growing economic sectors of the Golden State’s economy. It generates over $92 billion a year here in California, is responsible for nearly 700,000 jobs with over $30 billion in wages, and brings over $6 billion in tax revenues back to state and local communities. Once completed, the trail could attract hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors alike to hike this spectacular landscape and inject needed funds into our small, rural economies.

The new law also gives the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit agency (SMART) the ability and funding to negotiate for the take-over of the complex, long-term freight contract that NCRA sold to Northwestern Pacific Company over a decade ago. This could provide SMART with full control of the rail line from Marin to Willits in Mendocino County. This will help SMART as they would now manage both passenger and freight operations, which would aid SMART’s long-term scheduling and expansion needs. The State Secretary of Transportation and the Director of the Department of Finance would have to approve any takeover plan of freight operations between Willits and Marin.

“An enormous amount of work has taken place over the past year on this legislation, meeting with hundreds of groups and residents from every corner of the North Coast. That said, we know that the real work is about to be kicked off – the initial master planning process for this spectacular trail,” Senator McGuire said. “This public process will be done right, not fast. It will be inclusive of all voices, detailed and data driven. We’ll be hosting public meetings in early 2019 to inform the community on the planning process, receive critical input from neighbors and residents and talk about how we can work together in the months and years to come on the development of the Great Redwood Trail.”




  • Very cool! I wonder if it goes around Island Mountain or through it.

    • When I lived at Eel Rock (1961-62) there was an abandoned tunnel there. The Mexican railroad workers told me not to go into it because it was a Rattlesnake den. I don’t know for sure because I never entered it! I would have a little problem walking through a tunnel in the dark, but it does sound interesting.

      • I’ve walked through the Island Mountain tunnel, both ways. It’s just under a mile. I can’t imagine it being part of the trail without some serious lighting. Spooky!

  • While I support this in theory this is a nightmare for the property owners that the rail line runs through. The easement for the trail is a very small area in width and the minute someone goes off it, like to go to the river, to camp, to go to the bathroom they are trespassing on private property. This is hundred of miles of very rural trail almost entirely through private property and no matter how this is sold there is no way to monitor what people are doing (such as having camp fires in the middle of summer) or where people will be going. The cost of creating this is also going to be astounding. Don’t believe that? Just go try and walk down a mile of the current track along any segment of this proposal and see for yourself.

  • The old rail lie goes THROUGH Island Mtn.
    The very place where the emerald triangle was named

  • One more project that won’t be finished because it’ll be massively over budget.

    • You mean like the California bullet train project that voters approved in 2008 and completed in 2020 for 33 billion dollars that is now at 79 billion dollars and is projected to be completed in 2030? You mean like that? Obviously Mike you are just not a visionary…….lol

  • You don’t think the “all-important master planning process for the Great Redwood Trail by examining potential trail alignment, trail construction and long-term management costs, terrain suitability, rail banking potential, property easements and the possible governance structure of the trail. The planning process could take two years to complete” will take your concerns into account?

  • Likely $200 to $300 million (or more). Million bucks a mile.

    • Yup the majority of the tunnels are collapsed, you can’t even walk it because of all the washouts, it’s going to cost more money than anyone can imagine, that we don’t have, not to mention the only redwoods on it are from Dyerville overlook to Riodell, just walk the avenue and save a few billion.

  • This is fuckn stupid, give the money to our schools, and when they grow up and someone actually learns how to mange money and get our state out of the sewer then they can spend billions on a stupid fucking trail if they see fit.

  • They should just put a Chinese bullet train in so you can go Crescent City to San Francisco in 45 minutes.

  • Building boom along the trail !!! New towns a coming!!!

  • I think they need to fence the property on both sides when it travels theough private land.

    • They will leave this expense to the individual property owners. Maybe they will get a tax break but I would guess the fence will be an improvement and raise the property tax.

  • I’ll tell you what is time for. Its time that the people of california wake up and pay attention to what people like mcguire, huffman, harris,feistein,polosi, and newsome stand for and believe in. Wake up and vote them out! Vote John Cox for Govenor !!!!

  • It doesn’t sound like this was funded. Meaning, in order to terminate the NCRA there would have to be funding to pay off creditors.

  • More waste of taxpayer money (whether “local” or federal) by the most spendthrift and corrupt governor in history. Mike “sanctuary state” McGuire is as stupid and wasteful, a cut of the same Marxist cloth. The unbelievable morons of this hijacked blue sanctuary state (makes me literally ill, as a California native – as ill as I get when some New Yorker says “Cali” – to use this phrase) voted this guy back into office. Newsome is ten times worse. He destroyed San Francisco. I cannot understand how such low IQ liberals (pardon the redundancy) dress themselves in the morning. Oh, right, one sleeve of their Mao suit at a time.

    • You are exacly correct! It really is unbievable. Mcguire is like bernie sanders on steriods! Total wack job with zero respect for us property owners

    • Stormy, you are my new hero

    • Stormy for governor

    • lol, actually what was a waste of taxpayer money was the bankrupt agency that ran the railroad lines which is where the trail is going to be. All of you complaining of your property lines that were under less management than what is being offered. They are gonna have meetings and you get to let people know of your complaints. Any of you attend one of the meetings ran by the debt ridden railroad agency which had easements to all your “private property.” They were a joke with one dude siphoning 100k year job and millions in debt to lawyers. Do not get me started about the real estate sales this agency controlled!

      • It’s government that property owners need to be most afraid of. “Managed” will be the problem, not the solution. After your posts on abatement it’s surprising that you would even think there won’t be problems.

        • lol, managing easements through property lines is much different then government regulating a plant you grew. I am not having an issue with abatement I am legally permitted. I sympathize with those that are having issues going through the permit process. I do not understand why the county cannot issue a permanent number only interim it has been almost two years.

  • Wow! This is better than sliced bread!!

  • I think it’s cool. Could be a good way for the adjacent property owners to earn some cash. Humboldt is an up and coming tourist destination. Anything that’s gets people up here or gets people talking about us is great.

    But this is going to cost a lot of money because of all the lame regulations. You shouldn’t need a permit to move dirt.

  • with California Burning up regularly this is a terrible idea .Great theory

  • We need more trails in Humboldt County. Too much of it is private land that 90 % of the time is never set foot on. This will be a great way to explore our region without having to fill up the gas tank.

  • With the federal tax cut and the trillion dollar deficit per year that trump has now run up. There will be no funds for any of this.

    • If this project is to happen, not one cent of the funds should come from the federal government.

    • Yeah, that damn Trump has more than doubled the deficit, damnit that was the last president I keep getting them confused…

    • It’s a State law, not Federal. But California has been touted to have the world’s sixth largest economy. Too bad it also has the will to spend like it was the first.

      By the time it gets funded, it will probably be a reasonably good idea. Decades from now.

  • The Appalachian Trail runs through private property for most of its 2,000 miles. Of course, it was developed by private initiative, and is supported by the private citizens of the Appalachian Trail Conference. Portions of it are relocated from time to time because of property owner complaints. So where is the private support for this trail? What are the possibilities of rerouting to accommodate landowners?

    The Anderson Valley Advertiser has been pointing out for months that McGuire gets an enormous payday from this bill, as does Doug Bosco.

    On the other hand, Willits could use a boost in its economy. No one is mentioning tourists riding the SMART Train to get to the Skunk Train. If it should happen.

    • In California, no private owner would ever have even a hearing about any of their complaints once a trail is established. Much less getting any action on it. Look at Casual Observer’s remark above. That describes in a nutshell the danger of letting the public near private land at all.

  • Like the fruit stands of old, we can have marijuana stands every mile or so from Rio Dell to Dos Rios. I got dibs on milepost 188.

  • A really BIG issue is cell service, fire & ambulance access, police / ranger patrols by an as yet to be named agency: From Dos Rio to South Fork confluence there is a very steep canyon that could trap people in the event of a wildfire or flood. No cell service in rugged wilderness like environments, no access roads (all the old ranch access roads are gated off). Somebody breaks a leg or has a heart attack & they’re stuck where ever they are.No camp facilities. (BTW, the river itself is state property, not private property).

    Humans cause a large portion of wildfires, and most city people are clueless about fires, and fire danger…and you want to invite them to hike & camp in the Eel River Canyon..?

    The rail line between Ukiah & Willits will need a MAJOR overhaul with trees & over vegetation growing between the rails…

    Do we really want CITY PEOPLE coming up here, the deciding to MOVE up here, when we have a severe housing shortage, just so they can commute to some city job down south..???

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