The Hammond Coastal Trail is an approximately four-and-a-half mile out-and-back trail that extends northward from the Arcata Bottoms to Clam Beach County Park in McKinleyville. The trail has great appeal due to a wide variety of recreational options, including hiking, biking, horse riding, and wheelchair access, all available throughout the year. Dogs are allowed along the trail, but must be kept on a leash. However, at Clam Beach, which is at the end of the trail, your pooch can play off-leash.
There are three primary ways to get to the trail. From the Arcata Bottoms in the south, take highway 101 to Giuntoli Lane, then exit two miles north of Arcata and head west on Janes Road. From there, follow the signs to Mad River Beach down Mad River Road until you reach the pedestrian bridge where you can park. The trail is within eyeshot from there. You can also access the trail from Clam Beach which is at the opposite end to the north. Simply take the Clam Beach exit off Highway 101 and look around for the trail within eyeshot. The trail's third access route is from McKinleyville. Find the Murray Road/School Road exit off Highway 101 and head due west until you see the trailhead.
This trail is a well-maintained path with good signage. The trail runs along a railroad track that was used in the 1900s to transport Redwood logs from the Little River area to the Hammond Lumber Mill. As such, the crushed stone and asphalt trail is flat, making it excellent for hikers and for exercising options. The trail also hugs the Mad River up to the mouth of the Pacific Ocean with access to the beach in a few locations, as well as panoramic views of the ocean. Along the way, you will also find a wide variety of plant and animal species including Monterey Pine, Coyote Brush, Sitka Spruce, Dolphins, Whales, Sea Lions, Hawks, and Seabirds.
The Hammond Coastal Trail has access to several facilities including restrooms, parking, water, showers and more. This trail comes highly recommended to everyone, but especially to dog-owners and should be in every dog owner's bucket list. You and your barker should definitely check it out.
If you choose to access the beach for an off-leash experience with Fido, it is wise to watch for good weather, especially in winter, and time your visit to coincide with the oceans low tide. Strong sleeper waves have been known to pull hikers and their furry friends from the shore.