Monday, January 26, 2015

The Hammond Trail

We took a nice long walk last week on a part of the Hammond Tail that we hadn't been on before. The trail goes from Arcata north to Clam Beach. That's a 5 mile (8 km) one-way walk. We didn't go that far, but we did get far enough into the walk to get a wonderful view of the ocean.
Mad River from the bridge in Arcata
The trail begins at a bridge over the Mad River. When we got there we were surprised to see three seals swimming up river. We were pretty far from the mouth of the river at the bridge, so they had come more than a mile. I tried to photograph them, but the bridge has some high wire chain-link fencing that makes it very difficult to get a good shot. Still, it was grand to see them.
A cow we named Narcissus
We crossed the bridge and headed north. The trail goes through some beautiful cow pastures. A couple of weeks ago, when we were zooming along in our car, we passed another very large cow pasture. It had been after some big rains, and a cow was standing in a puddle casting a very lovely cow reflection. I wished I had had the camera and that there was a place to pull over. It's not often that we get to see cow reflections. So, we were pretty happy to see this cow and its reflection on our walk. We named this cow Narcissus.
Male Bufflehead
We were surprised to see this Bufflehead hanging out in the cow pasture. There were plenty of Great Egrets and even some Willets out there too. Everyone seemed to be getting along quite well on that beautiful sunny afternoon.
The roaring Pacific Ocean
We walked on until we came to Hiller Park in McKinleyville. There we took a few trails and came to an overlook and saw this. We could hear those waves roaring during most of the hike. To see them crashing like this on a clear blue-sky day was more than we had even hoped for.
The explanation of the river mouth on the move
We have been hoping to hike to the mouth of the river, but as you can see from the above sign, the mouth keeps moving!

The Mad River running parallel to the Pacific
We remember years ago when we were in Arcata in 2008, hiking along the Hammond Trail and getting to see the mouth. There were many seals there, some swimming in, others lounging on the beach. We keep hoping to see that again, but it's going to take a bit more hiking around to get to the place where the mouth is visible these days. We'll keep you posted!


  1. Sounds like a great hike. We almost drove to the beach this week-end but lambing has begun and we can't be gone more than a couple of hours. The weather though at our coastline was in the mid 60s according to the weatherman and those who were there. Winter can be wonderful at the coast.

  2. Mouth on the Move. How interesting. Lovely photographs even if you didn't get to the mouth.

  3. It does my heart good to see these photos and read about your walk this evening. Thank you!

  4. Can see why it's called the Mad River. Great hike, you must have enjoyed it

  5. What a splendid place to walk with such a variety of sites. That ocean shot made me realize how I miss those huge bodies of water.
    That cow is well named and definitely is fond of its own reflection. How nice of it to recreate the pose for you.

  6. Leah wanted to know where you lived, so I opened a map program and went to Arcata. I zoomed in and there was the Mad River running right next to the ocean. It was neat to see where you all were walking.

  7. Rain-- We're only a few miles inland, so it's really easy to get to see the ocean whenever we want. It's always such a sight and sound. Hope you get there soon.

    NCmountainwoman-- I was so glad to find that sign at the overlook. It's really interesting to read the processes that shape this part of the coast. Glad you liked the pics!

    am-- On a sunny day here, it's one of the most beautiful places for a walk. Glad you liked it.

    Bill- That's very funny. I hadn't thought of it that way!

    Arkansas Patti-- It's why we moved back to the coast. Love the sight and sound of it. We also were quite fond of the cow!

    Mark P-- I just went to google maps to take a look, and it really does show exactly where we were. It's a pretty interesting spot for a sunny afternoon walk.

  8. Robin Andrea and Roger,
    I, too, enjoyed your hike along the Mad River. When having a chance to fly, I always enjoy looking down at the rivers and streams near the coast. The more level ground allows for some fantastic calligraphy!
    The Bufflehead reminded me that I saw three Hooded Mergansers a couple weeks ago on a small lake near the lab where I work. I love seeing them diving and popping up some distance away from where they disappeared!
    Wishing you both well,

  9. Dave-- We will! Glad you liked the pics!

    Aubrey-- It is really so interesting to see the changing coastline and the influence of tides and rivers. I don't fly, but I bet it looks pretty grand from the sky. We haven't seen any Hooded Mergansers since we left the Olympic Peninsula, but all these dabbling ducks are truly beautiful little creatures. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  10. Seals in a river. How not Florida is that?
    Awesome pics!

  11. R.Powers-- We love seeing those seals in the river. Glad you liked the pics.