Redwood Creek (Humboldt County)

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Redwood Creek
RooseveltElk 5061t.JPG
Redwood Creek seen with a herd of Roosevelt Elk on its banks
Country United States
State California
Region Humboldt County
 - left Noisy Creek (Redwood Creek), Lupton Creek, Devils Creek, Bridge Creek (Redwood Creek)
 - right Bradford Creek, Minor Creek, Lacks Creek, Prairie Creek (California)
City Orick
Source Board Camp Mountain
 - location Redwood National Park
 - elevation 4,400 ft (1,341 m)
 - coordinates 40°42′21″N 123°42′14″W / 40.70583°N 123.70389°W / 40.70583; -123.70389 [1]
Mouth Pacific Ocean
 - location Orick
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 - coordinates 41°17′32″N 124°05′31″W / 41.29222°N 124.09194°W / 41.29222; -124.09194Coordinates: 41°17′32″N 124°05′31″W / 41.29222°N 124.09194°W / 41.29222; -124.09194 [1]
Length 61.8 mi (99 km), South-north
Basin 279 sq mi (723 km2)
Discharge for Orick, CA
 - average 1,006 cu ft/s (28 m3/s) [2]
 - max 50,500 cu ft/s (1,430 m3/s)
 - min 2.1 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
Map of Redwood Creek basin

Redwood Creek (Yurok: 'O'rekw 'We-Roy [3]) is a 61.8-mile (99.5 km) river in Humboldt County, California. The river's headwaters are in the Coast Range at about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) and it flows roughly northwest until it empties into the Pacific Ocean near the small town of Orick, the only development in the 280-square-mile (730 km2)-watershed.


Redwood Creek begins near Board Camp Mountain in the Coast Ranges near Dinsmores. The stream's headwaters lie at about 4,400 feet (1,300 m) above sea level, in a network of small unnamed streams along the north sides of a ridge abutting the Mad River valley to the south. It flows north through a deep forested valley, receiving many small tributaries including Minor and Lacks creeks from the right. About 15 miles (24 km) downstream of the source, the creek crosses under State Route 299.[4]

Slightly less than 20 miles (32 km) from the mouth, the river passes the southern boundary of Redwood National Park. It then receives Bridge Creek from the left, before winding through several groves of Sequoia sempervirens, more commonly known as redwood trees, from which the stream takes its name. Several of the tallest redwoods in the world are near the creeks banks. Near the small town of Orick it curves west, and receives Prairie Creek, its largest tributary, from the right. It empties into the Pacific Ocean about 30 miles (48 km) north of Eureka and 27 miles (43 km) south of Crescent City.[4]


The long, narrow Redwood Creek drainage basin encompasses 280 square miles (730 km2) on the western slopes of the California Coast Ranges, entirely within Humboldt County. It stretches about 56 kilometres (35 mi) from north to south and ranges from 4.5 to 7 miles (7.2 to 11.3 km) wide. Most of the stream flows in a broad, 1,500-foot (460 m)-deep valley sandwiched between the Mad River basin to the west, and the Klamath River drainage to the east. Elevations range from over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) on higher peaks of the mountains near the headwaters to sea level at the creek's mouth at the Pacific. The small town of Orick and the narrow strip of surrounding farmland are the only significant development in the entire basin. The river is free flowing and has no dams, only a few agricultural diversions in the last 3 miles (4.8 km) above the mouth.

Land use[edit]

The river provides recreation, and agricultural and industrial water supply for the community of Orick, California.[5] The lower portion of the creek and part of its estuary are in Redwood National and State Parks, but the upper portion is mostly privately owned. The park makes up 41 percent of the watershed and the Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service own 3 percent. Private lands downstream of the parks makes up only 1 percent. Private lands upstream make up 55 percent, 90 percent of which is owned by eight landowners, Green Diamond Company being the largest. Since the 19th Century significant portions of the watershed have been extensively logged, some of which was clear cut as recently as the 1970s when commercial logging and milling operations hurried to cut as much as possible on the eve of expansion of Redwood National Park.

Lacks Creek

Lacks Creek is a tributary of redwood creek located in California‘s northern Coast Range, approximately 15 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The area is in Humboldt County, approximately 20 miles northeast of Eureka. The management area includes 8,673 acres of BLM managed public lands – 7,377 acres are within the Lacks Creek watershed, with the other acreage made up of contiguous lands. The management area is surrounded by large private land timber holdings, and the region contains some of the most productive and intensively managed commercial forest lands in the United States. The immediate area is sparsely populated with scattered ranches in adjacent Redwood Valley.[6]

Recreation at Lacks creek consists of equestrian use, camping and now mountain biking, with newly developed trail systems as of 2014. Epic scenery with fast and fun trails through Oak Prairies and Old Growth Fir forests. About 10 miles of singletrack that can be linked together for about a 16-mile ride, or looped until you can't ride anymore. Expect moderately difficult, punchy climbs, some technical sections and lots of fast, tree-dodging singletrack. The trail drains well and is rideable year-round unless covered by snow.Directional signage is not yet installed, but the trail system does not have many trail junctions so a general sense of your location and the map will usually do. There are now BLM paddles at all trailheads. There is no water on site, and no services within an hour's drive, so be prepared. Cell phone coverage is spotty but it exists on most of the system.Be aware there may be construction in progress. Technical features on the trail are not marked.[7]

Currently, the start point for the trail system is off of Pine Ridge Road. Take it from the Lacks Creek road junction where the kiosk is located. We recommend driving up Pine Ridge road until you reach the main parking area next to the large Black Oak Prairie. This main parking lot is an excellent central location for riding the system, with views to the ocean for post ride hanging out and convenient jump trail sessioning.

The "standard" ride goes something like this:

From the main parking area, ride Pine Ridge Trail north, then climb the fire road to the beginning of Stormy Saddle Trail. ClimbStormy Saddle the top, then descend, crossing the road once about 2/3 of the way down. From the bottom of Stormy Saddle takePine Ridge Trail back to the parking lot, where you'll descend on Tomfoolery to Midslope Road. Turn left on Midslope and climb about half an hour, passing the bottom of Chutes along the way, to Lacks Mountain Trail (look for the campground to your right at the top of the climb) which you'll want to do counterclockwise, followed by Punchbowl and maybe a quick trip back down Chutes (experts only). Take the road back to either the Jump Trail, the upper section of Tomfoolery or Runaround, all of which end back at the parking area. This ride is about 16 miles in length with over 3,000 feet of climbing.[7]


Redwood Creek in Redwood National Park

The river provides wildlife habitat for preservation of rare and endangered species including cold freshwater habitat for fish migration and spawning.[5] The greatest problem for the creek and its tributaries is erosion, which leads to excessive sediment buildup in the streambeds. The increased erosion is caused by extensive logging in the upper watershed, which began in the 1950s and continues today as the primary land use. In the last couple of decades alone, 65% of all land and 75% of the forested land in the basin has been harvested for timber. The building of logging roads has also increased erosion in the watershed. The sediment has filled in the pools and spawning habitat used by steelhead and coho salmon, which has caused a major decline in the fishery.[8]

Habitat in the lower portion of the creek has been degraded due to actions taken after the flooding of 1955 and 1964. The United States Army Corps of Engineers channelized the last 3.4 miles (5.5 km) of the creek through dredging and the building of levees. This has changed the creek's hydrology and sedimentation patterns, resulting in a decrease in flow. In addition, it has destroyed the riparian vegetation, which helps protect against erosion and decreases the water temperature to a level suitable for the creek's coldwater fish.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Redwood Creek". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1981-01-19. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  2. ^ "USGS Gage #11482500 on Redwood Creek near Orick, CA" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  3. ^ "Yurok Dictionary: 'O'rekw 'We-Roy". Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  4. ^ a b USGS Topo Maps for United States (Map). Cartography by United States Geological Survey. ACME Mapper. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  5. ^ a b State of California Water Quality Control Plan North Coastal Basin 1B July 1975 p.13
  6. ^ "Lacks Creek Management Area". Bureau of Land Management. 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  7. ^ a b "Lacks Creek, Lacks Creek BLM Management Area | MTB Project". MTB Project. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  8. ^ Kolipinski, Milton; et al. (1975-12-10). "Status of Natural Resources in Redwood Creek Basin, Redwood National Park" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 

External links[edit]