Distance: 19 miles
Climbing: 1350 Feet
Elk River Road is a wonderful country ride close to Eureka. The Elk River Valley offers an out-and-back ride on a quiet country road. The scenery is wonderful and includes open fields, two covered bridges, and surrounding forests. If you are fit and ride hard, you can finish in less than one hour. If you want to enjoy the scenery, it will take a couple of hours. The majority of the ride follows roads with good shoulders or very little traffic. The ride is fairly flat with only a couple of short climbs. The weather in Elk River Valley is similar to Eureka. A coastal wind normally blows up the valley creating a little resistance on the ride back. At the end of Elk River Road, the BLM Headwaters Reserve http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/arcata/headwaters.html offers a good place to take a break or a short hike. There is an interpretive trail that documents the history of the ghost town of Falk. The trail was upgraded with new culverts and pavement during the summer of 2007. You can ride to the actual location of Falk.
The ride can be done several different ways, but the following route is a great way to do a loop and end up with about 19 miles of riding.
0- Start in Eureka at Henderson Center Bicycles at 2811 F Street. This is a good time to get supplies for the ride or try one of two local bakeries. Head south on F Street towards the Fresh Freeze drive-in continuing through the intersection past Jo-Ann Fabrics. The road is busy and narrow but after a few blocks you will enter a nice bike lane. As you continue out F Street its name changes to Fairway Drive. You will drop down a short fast descent, pass the Eureka Golf Course, and then go up a short climb. At the top of the hill look for the Fairway Market.
2.4- Turn left onto Meyers Avenue at the Fairway Market. Meyers Avenue will drop down into the Elk River Valley on a short descent. The road name will change to Pine Hill Road. You will cross over Swain Slough and come to a stop sign.
3.1- Turn left onto Elk River Road. The road is in good condition with a nice bike lane. Traffic will zoom by at 45 to 55 miles per hour. Traffic can be busy during rush hour. After about a mile of flat riding you will start up a short hill.
4.3- At the intersection of Elk River Road and Ridgewood Drive turn right and continue out Elk River Road. This is the beginning of the truly scenic part of the ride. There is usually very little traffic.
5.3- Turn right onto Berta Road to see the first covered bridge. After seeing the bridge turn around and go back to Elk River Road. Turn right and continue out Elk River Road.
6.3- Zanes Road Covered Bridge. Check out the bridge or continue riding our Elk River Road.
8- At the intersection of Elk River Road and Wrigley Road go straight over the narrow bridge. Continue up the road and start a short climb. After the climb you will start a short descent. Warning, at the bottom of the climb on the left side of the road is a house with several big black dogs chained up in the front yard. These dogs make a big scene by jerking at their chains and barking. Even though they are no threat, they give me an adrenaline pump every time I fly by. You might be able to zoom by without waking them if you coast by real fast without pedaling.
9- Headwaters Forest Reserve North Trailhead. This is the end of the road. There is a picnic bench, porta-potty, and trailhead kiosk. This is a great place for a break. You could take a short interpretive hike out to the former ghost town of Falk. The town was founded in 1884 and abandoned in 1937. It’s a former ghost town because nothing much remains of the town except a few pieces of scattered timber. Bikes are allowed beyond the trailhead. The first mile or so are paved then turn to gravel. When you are ready, head back out Elk River Road.
13.3- At the intersection of Elk River Road and Ridgewood Drive turn right and start up the longest climb of the day. Ridgewood Drive will change into Walnut Drive and take you to Cutten on the outskirts of Eureka. The road is wide and has ample shoulder room.
17.6- Walnut Drive ends at the stop sign. Turn left and continue around the curve onto W Street. You will pass Sequoia Park and Zoo.
18- Turn left onto Hodgson Street.
19- Turn right onto F Street and head back to Henderson Center.
19.3- Henderson Center Bicycles. You are done.
Click below for a printable route sheet:
You can take a virtual tour of the ghost town of Falk and see some other assorted pictures of the ride by looking at my Flickr album below:
Here is a link to the Garmin Connect website ride route which has GPS data and a Google map of the ride.
Clicking on the map below will direct you to the website where you can view the map through Google Earth or download a Garmin Course or GPX file. I have not used one of these file types so if you do, please let me know how it works out.