The McKinleyville Land Trust (MLT) invites local residents to a grand opening celebration for the recently completed trail system at the Mad River Bluffs natural area, located just west of Hiller Park in McKinleyville, on Saturday, June 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Mad River Bluffs Trail Opening Celebration will be held at the site’s meadow area, where two new picnic tables have been installed, west of Hiller Park near one of the Mad River overlooks (see map). The MLT board and local naturalists will be on hand to discuss the history of the site and to lead docent walks throughout the bluff property. There will also be an opportunity to participate in trail maintenance activities and contribute to sustaining this beautiful new trail system. The MLT board will have snacks and drinks, as well as informational handouts about the area. Please park at Hiller Park and follow the signs to the event.
Thanks to a grant from the California River Parkways Grant Program (Proposition 50), the McKinleyville Land Trust was able to partner with the Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA) to improve nearly 6,500 feet of trail, construct four overlooks above the Mad River, and build a new staircase down to the river bank.
Trail improvements, begun last fall, were completed in partnership with the California Conservation Corps, under the direction of Kevin Wright of RCAA.
In addition to the upgraded trails and the staircase leading to the Mad River, the crews created a gravel parking area at the foot of Ocean Drive and Hiller Road and decommissioned several informal trails dissecting the native coastal pine forest. Several interpretive signs have been erected throughout the property, as well as two picnic tables, trash cans, and doggie pot stations. The Baduwat Trail, which runs from the parking area at Ocean Drive to the adjacent Hiller Park property, has been made ADA accessible and leads to a stunning overlook above the Mad River.
The 75-acre property was saved from housing development in 2001 when the California Coastal Conservancy purchased the site for $600,000 and turned it over to the McKinleyville Land Trust for preservation and public access.
The Mad River Bluffs natural area offers spectacular views of the Mad River and Pacific Ocean. It also contains many species of native plants and trees, offering visitors the experience of a unique native coastal forest.
Notable in the property are the native coastal pines along with large Sitka spruce trees that represent the southernmost distribution of the locally declining Sitka spruce range. These exceptionally large trees offer unique habitats for several types of fungus and ferns, and were noted for their use in Native American basketry.
The MLT is dedicated to the conservation of our local open spaces for their ecological, historical, agricultural, educational, recreational and scenic values.
It was started in 1994 as a result of local residents’ response to the development of the Mill Creek Shopping Center and its potential impacts on Mill Creek.
In addition to the Mad River Bluffs property, the MLT owns a 10-acre parcel (known as Chah-GAH-Cho) behind and west of the Mill Creek Shopping Center. The MLT’s third parcel is a 2.5-acre seasonal pond known as the Dow’s Prairie Educational Wetland, which is a US Fish and Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat Program site and will be used as an outdoor classroom by the adjacent elementary school.
The MLT, a small tax-exempt nonprofit, is operated by a part-time all-volunteer board which relies on donations and fundraising to raise money to cover the costs of keeping its three parcels open to the public. The MLT is looking for interested volunteers to help maintain the existing trails at MRB or work on restoration efforts, as well as a variety of other projects on other local properties MLT owns or manages. For additional information about MRB, the upcoming celebration, or to discuss how you could get involved with the McKinleyville Land Trust, check out the web site: mlandtrust.org, or phone 839-LAND and ask for more information.