Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tompkins Hill Time Trial Course and Loleta Loop

Distance: 11.6, 15.2, 36, or 48 miles
Climbing: 2382 feet (36 mile option)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Start: Eureka

View of the Eel River Delta from the top of Tompkins Hill


The Tompkins Hill Time Trial course is an unofficial race that takes place in Humboldt County. The ride travels through picturesque farming country with several points of interest along the way. There are two courses to ride with optional side trips, making the length and difficulty entirely up to the rider. There is an 11.6-mile flat course and a 15.2-mile hilly course. Both courses start at College of the Redwoods, which is 8 miles south of Eureka. The short course is not recommended for a recreational ride because it is fairly boring, following the highway for half its distance. A favorite of locals is to combine the long course with a loop through Loleta. If you start in Eureka and do the long course and Loleta Loop, you will complete 36 miles. There is an optional out-and-back to the south jetty of 11 miles, bringing the total to about 48 miles. You can start these rides in Eureka, Loleta, Fortuna, or by driving to College of the Redwoods. This write up will detail the short course, long course, and extra Loleta Loop. This ride guide describes the route starting in Henderson Center in Eureka.

The Loleta Loop is a popular local ride. Once you get to College of the Redwoods, the route follows low traffic country roads. The route is generally flat with rolling hills and one main climb up Tompkins Hill. Plan on riding for 2 to 4 hours depending on how many stops you make. The route travels through open dairy grazing country and along the edge of Humboldt Bay and the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Eureka to College of the Redwoods


  • 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. Continue riding until you come to Highway 101.

  • 3.1- Go over Highway 101 and take the onramp heading south towards Fortuna. The highway has a good wide shoulder.

  • 6.9- Get off the highway at the College of the Redwoods Exit.

  • 7.3- Turn right at the intersection.

  • 7.7- Pass the College of the Redwoods North Entrance.

  • 8- College of the Redwoods Main Entrance. The Main Entrance sign is the starting point for both the long and short time trial courses. If you have a computer reset it here.

Short Course


  • 0- Starting at CR's main entrance, head south on Tompkins Hill Road.

  • 2- Turn right onto Hookton Road. Cross the railroad tracks and take the on ramp to Highway 101 North.

  • 4.8- Take the College of the Redwoods Exit.

  • 5.1- Stop Sign. Caution: Watch out for auto traffic. Cars from the right and straight ahead do not have to stop.

  • 5.8- College of the Redwoods Main Entrance. To complete the short course repeat the loop and you will have completed 11.6 miles. Head back to Eureka the way you came.

Here is the GPS route. You have to do two of these laps.
Garmin Connect - Activity Details for CR TT Short Course




Long Course


  • 0- Starting at CR's main entrance, head south on Tompkins Hill Road.

  • 2- Go straight at the intersection with Hookton Road. The road is narrow but there is very little traffic. This is the best part of the long course as you ride through farm country.

  • 4.7- You will start the climb, ascending approximately 560 feet in 1 mile.

  • 5.2- You are at the top of the climb. If you look to the west you will have a wonderful view of the Eel River and Loleta.

  • 5.7- At the intersection of Graham Road bear to the right on the main road. You will begin the descent down towards Fortuna.

  • 6- Caution: There is a sharp right hand turn. You can easily build up too much speed on the descent and blow this curve!

  • 7.4- At the stop sign go right and head north on Highway 101.

  • 11.9- You will begin a descent down towards Hookton Road.

  • 13- Turn off on Hookton Road and head over the railroad tracks back towards Tompkins Hill Road.

  • 13.3- Turn left on Tompkins Hill Road and head back towards College of the Redwoods.

  • 15.2- Finish where you started at the main entrance sign. Head back to Eureka the way you came.


Here is the GPS data for the ride:
Garmin Connect - Activity Details for CR TT Course Hilly

Loleta Loop


This loop adds 6.8 miles to the long course. An additional 11 miles is possible by riding out to the south jetty of Humboldt Bay. First, follow the route of the long course to mile point 7.4.


  • 7.4- At the stop sign go right and head north on Highway 101.

  • 7.9- Take the Fernbridge/Ferndale Exit. Ride underneath the overpass and continue along the road as it veers to the right to parallel the highway.

  • 8.7- Fernbridge. The Fernbridge Market and a seasonal fruit stand offer good points to take a break. At the stop sign go straight.

  • 9.2- Turn left at the sign for Loleta.

  • 11- Loleta Drive Intersection. Go straight to continue the ride.

  • Side trip: Turn right to visit the Loleta Cheese Factory and the town of Loleta. The Loleta Cheese Factory has free cheese samples and local foods. There is a wonderful garden on the property where you can picnic or just take a break.

  • 11.4- Turn left on Copenhagen Road. This is a nice country ride through dairy farms on a narrow country road.

  • 15- Turn right on Table Bluff Road.

  • Side trip: Turn left and go out to the south jetty of Humboldt Bay. This out-and-back adds 11 miles to the ride.

  • 15.4- At the intersection of Table Bluff Road and Hookton Road go straight onto Hookton Road. This portion of the road is fun with short climbs and descents.

  • 17.2- Hookton Slough Trail. Continue the ride going straight. If you need a break, turn left and check out the wildlife viewing areas at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex. There are bathrooms and places to picnic.

  • 18.5- Turn left at the stop sign and continue the ride crossing over the Highway 101 overpass. The Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters is located down a frontage road just before you cross the overpass. Follow the signs if you want to check it out.

  • 18.8- After crossing the overpass, turn left at the stop sign and cross the railroad tracks.

  • 19- Turn left at the yield sign and ride down Tompkins Hill Road back to College of the Redwoods.

  • 21- Finish where you started at the main entrance sign. Head back to Eureka the way you came.

Click here for a printable route sheet from Google Docs

Here is a link to Garmin GPS data and a map via Garmin Connect for the 36-mile Loleta Loop.

Below is a map from MapMyRide.com for the 36-mile Loleta Loop ride. Clicking on the map will direct you to the website where you can view the map through Google Earth or download a Garmin Course or GPX file. You can also print the map with notes.



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