The Southern Humboldt Community Park features a playground, public beach access to the South Fork of the Eel River, and 3.5 miles of interpretive trails. The SHCP provides a place for outdoor recreation and physical activity in the form of hiking, bird walks, biking, swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, picnicking, a disc golf course, a meditation labyrinth, and a skateboard ramp.
Visiting the Park
The Park is open from sun-up to sun-down year round. The Park is located on Sprowel Creek Road one mile from the Highway 101 Garberville exit.
Many Park recreational features are located on the south side of Sprowel Creek road including trails, a labyrinth, a skate ramp, and a disc golf course. Comprised of nearly 400-acres this section of the Park property is a favorite recreational destination for walkers, joggers, hikers, bicyclists, bird watchers, horseback riders and dog walkers.[/vc_column_text][vc_tabs interval=”0″][vc_tab title=”Trails” tab_id=”1429721222732-6″][vc_column_text]All park trails are multi-use trails and can be used by walkers, dogs on leashes, joggers, bike riders and horses. Please use caution and consideration for other trail users.
Trails Map (PDF)
The Meadow Loop:
This 2.2 mile trail circles the meadow historically known as Tooby Flat. Visitors may spot a variety of birds including the Western Meadowlark or Grasshopper sparrow. A bird checklist and a self-guided plant walk brochure are available at the kiosk located near the southern entrance on Kimtu Road. It is designed to be navigable by families with cross-country baby strollers and/or adventurous preschoolers.
The Woods Trail:
This trail is a 1 mile loop off the Meadow Loop Trail. This trail continues straight into the woods from Wedding Grove and travels through the oak and bay laurel forest at the edge of the hillside and returns to the Meadow Loop Trail. This trail is also family friendly.
New Forestry-Demonstration Forest Trail:
The New Forestry Trail is a steep loop that takes off from and rejoins the Meadow Loop trail along the forest access road, not suitable for baby strollers. This trail was a project of the Institute for Sustainable Forestry (ISF) and Nick’s Interns, a youth career training program. The trail was created to provide access for the general public to witness restoration activities and sustainable forest practices. The Southern Humboldt Community Park is the perfect setting for this project as it incorporates healthy working models into the everyday lives of our community and will contribute to making these practices understood and accepted as commonplace. The Institute for Sustainable Forestry is thankful to Cereus Fund for providing this opportunity.
In addition to the above trails, new trails have been created by disc golfers and bicycle riders. Anyone contemplating an addition to the Park trail system should check with Park Caretakers before blazing new trails, as new trails may create erosion and/or damage habitat. We ask all Park users to protect the landscape by staying on mapped trails and resisting the urge to make shortcuts.
The Upland Forest Exploration Trail:
This trail will meander through 130 acres of upland forest dominated by a dense, second-growth mixed-hardwood Douglas-fir forest with scattered residual old-growth Douglas-fir and several large seasonal springs. This approximately one-mile trail will switchback through forest that overlooks the remainder of the Community Park and the South Fork Eel River. The forest offers opportunities for shaded relaxation; benches and picnic tables will someday be located at points along this trail.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Bicycling” tab_id=”1429721222983-7″][vc_column_text]Mountain biking in the steep hills of Southern Humboldt can be a challenging activity. The community park provides some rare, gentle mileage that is perfect for initiating beginners into the sport. The proximity to town makes it a convenient spot for a spontaneous ride or regular training; advanced riders may take a few laps and include side trails for more challenge. The South Fork High School Mt. Bike team met there regularly to stay in race shape and a successful racing event was held there that was suitable for all ages and skill levels.
Additionally, the small scale of the park provides the perfect opportunity for practicing trail etiquette; as a multi-use loop, one often encounters hikers (sometimes with dogs or children), equestrians and other cyclists. Since you are likely to see these other trail users again (either back at the parking lot or on your next lap), there is strong incentive to be friendly and yield the right of way.
Another unsung aspect of the park is the terrain itself; while this area is world-renowned for its coastal and redwood trails, the community park provides users with a tour through some of the oldest mixed-hardwood forests that define much of the inland scenery. The ecosystems of the river and meadow overlap with this environment, and create a unique, compact tour of southern Humboldt diversity.
Horses have a long history at the Park, as horses were used to herd cattle and almost certainly to plow the fields in earlier days, a practice being resumed by Park farmers John and Lisa.
Today, horseback riders find the Park a welcoming recreational location. Due to sensitive nesting areas in the grassy fields and other environmental concerns, riders are asked to stay on the multi-purpose trails. Local riders report that cheerful cooperation is the norm when sharing the trails with walkers and bicyclists. It is the hope of both the Park board and local horseback riders to expand equestrian use of the Park, perhaps including group rides and other horse-centered activities and areas. If you trailer your park to the Park, please use the Kimtu parking lot where turnaround is easy.
For more information, you may contact local horsewoman Cindi Oney at firstname.lastname@example.org, or during business hours at Just Rent It, 707-923-1414.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Skate Park” tab_id=”1429721533632-3-8″][vc_column_text]Skateboarders have envisioned a ramp at the Park since the Park’s inception. Through the efforts of a number of volunteers spearheaded by Richard Barnick of Tsunami Surf and Sport, the first ramp was built in 2006. The current ramp, located just a short walk past the Park barn, is a large wooden half-pipe. The pipe is 22 feet wide, 40 feet long and 4 feet high, with an 8 foot transition. It is open to the public during the Park’s open hours.
It is important to note that skateboarding, according to a California law passed in 1998, is an inherently “Hazardous Recreational Activity” (HRA). We therefore urge that all parents supervise their children closely at the ramp and that all ramp users follow these safety regulations, which are also posted at the ramp:
- All participants do so at own risk.
- Safety equipment must be worn at all times: helmets and knee & elbow pads
- No drugs
- No alcohol
- Respect yourself and others.
Skaters, including the Garbervillains Skate Club, as well as the Park Board, hope that someday the ramp can become a more permanent structure, perhaps a concrete ramp located closer to the playground at Tooby Memorial Park to better serve families wanting to enjoy both facilities.
For more information, contact Richard Barnick at 923-1965.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Birdwatching” tab_id=”1429721574805-4-2″][vc_column_text]Southern Humboldt Community Park (SHCP) is perhaps the best birding location between Bear River Ridge to the north and Usal Beach Campground to the south, with at least 130 species recorded as of April 2, 2015. Its mix of grassland, oak and redwood forests, river, and farmland contributes to this impressive diversity as does its long history of guided bird walks. The months of April to June exhibit the highest bird diversity. The park’s avifaunal composition is characteristic of the lower elevations of inland Humboldt. SHCP is best known among birders as the site of a small breeding population of the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), a grassland species that is local and uncommon in northwest California and a Species of Concern in California.
The 25 most-frequently-reported species are listed below. All are found year-round unless otherwise noted.
A more-or-less complete list of the park’s birds can be found here.
Text by Ken Burton of www.norcalnature.com
Birdwalks at the Community Park are offered by the Park and the Redwood Region Audubon Society the third Sunday morning of each month, weather permitting. The birdwalks start at 8AM in the summer and 9AM in the winter. No dogs please.
A printed checklist is available of the 153 bird species that have been identified at the park. Species sighted at the park include: American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, Cooper’s Hawk, White-throated Swift, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Western Bluebird, Belted Kingfisher, Western Meadowlark, Wood Duck, and White-tailed Kite, among many others.
For current birdwalk dates and times, or for additional information about birdwalks and birdlife at the Community Park, visit the Redwood Region Audubon Society calendar at www.rras.org.
Disc (Frisbee) Golf is a game in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, “The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc.” Of the more than 3000 established disc golf courses as of 2010, approximately 87% are free. The sport has grown at a rate of 12-15 percent annually for more than the past decade, with nearly 3,000 courses in the US and over 3,000 globally. The game is played in over 40 countries worldwide.
Our own course was started by disc golf enthusiasts in 2007 and now features 18 chain basket goals distributed over several acres in the southeast portion of the Park. A map of the course is in the works. It will be posted here as well as at the Park. If you want to play the course in the meantime, call the phone number listed below.
Our course is closely affiliated with both the Humboldt County disc golf club Par Infinity (www.ParInfinity.org), which maintains a calendar of Humboldt County disc golf events, and the semi-private Birds of Paradise disc golf course near Miranda, created by Caleb Gribi.
For more information on our course, you can contact Dano Porter at 707-923-1120.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Labyrinth” tab_id=”1429722019006-6-6″][vc_column_text]The Park Labyrinth is nestled near the woods along the north leg of the Loop Trail about equidistant from the Park’s main entrance and its Kimtu parking lot. A soothing exercise in contemplative walking or moving meditation, it was created through the efforts of Kay Christian, a physician assistant at Redwoods Rural Health Center (RRHC), and Gillian Brown, a local teacher and labyrinth designer who completed her MA thesis on the topic of labyrinths. Completed in 2008 though the generosity of many donors including the Humboldt Area Foundation, the labyrinth was originally created under the fiscal sponsorship of RRHC and is now administered by the Park.
The labyrinth, with history dating back more than 3,000 years, is a symbol found in many religious and spiritual traditions the world over. Expansive concrete and stone versions of the labyrinth on which people walk have been featured in a variety of settings for thousands of years. Many people mistake the labyrinth for a maze; the two are very different. A maze is more like a puzzle to be solved. It has many twists, turns and dead ends, and it presents choices to the person walking through it. A labyrinth, on the other hand, features one path into the center and one path out. People walking through a labyrinth are not required to make any choices. They simply follow the path to the center and then out again. Labyrinths can be found in churches, hospitals, retreat and meditation centers, hospice facilities and schools. Walking the labyrinth is said to provide a psychic and reflective journey through which the person walking the labyrinth contemplates their life in general or a specific problem or challenge.
Ms. Brown describes the benefits of walking a labyrinth: “It is a soothing and reflective meditation to walk this ancient symbol. People report that it helps them come to balance.”
For more information on labyrinths, you may contact our labyrinth’s advocate Gillian Brown at 707-923-4139 or email@example.com.
(Recent events have led the board to establish a moratorium on all but the most modest low-impact activities until current uncertainties with regards to County zoning and permitting procedures can be resolved.)
Tooby Memorial Playground and Picnic Area
The former “Tooby Park” is a small area within the Southern Humboldt Community Park and located on the north side of Sprowel Creek Road just past the main SHCP entrance. This 14-acre section of the larger park includes a sunny picnic area, a modern fenced playground, access to a beach on the Eel River, as well as a 7-acre mature redwood grove. There is soon to be a small sports practice area for local children’s beginning soccer and baseball teams, and plans are underway for a new barbecue pavilion. Tooby has been administered and maintained by SHCP since 2002. See information below regarding day-use/small events.
Day Use and Group Events at the Park
There are no fees for ordinary everyday use of the park by individuals.
If you would like to host a group event at the Park, please note that there is a small day-use fee. These fees are used to help the park cover the additional costs incurred by group use. Those who cannot afford to pay will not be turned away for events like birthday parties and (no-alcohol) family gatherings.
For more information regarding day-use / small events contact the park office (707) 923-2928.
The Park is a favorite destination for dog-owners, and dogs are allowed throughout the Park as long as they are leashed and closely controlled at all times. As the park becomes increasingly popular, diligent dog control and etiquette become increasingly vital to everyone’s enjoyment. Please remember that while your dog may be very friendly, some people and some dogs are very uncomfortable around unfamiliar, unrestrained dogs. Remember, too, that there is wildlife throughout the Park, as well as livestock in the area near the barns.
Several dog owners have mentioned a desire for a fenced “Dog Park,” an off-leash area, and this may be possible once the park has been rezoned.
|Please Note: Motorized recreational vehicles are not permitted in the park.|
Watch for Poison Oak!
Copyright 2001 Julie Kierstead Nelson
Pacific Poison Oak
Poison Oak grows throughout the Park. Watch for it in wooded areas, along trails and growing amongst blackberry bushes. Its oily sap urushiol, present in leaves, berries and even the bare stems of winter, causes most people to react with rashes, itching and blistering wherever the plant touches their skin. Rashes can also occur simply from touching clothing or animals that have come in contact with the plant.
For more information, go to http://www.wikihow.com/Treat-Poison-Ivy-and-Poison-Oak.