If you ask us (and let’s pretend you did), the progress that’s been made in recent years on the Humboldt Bay Trail just might be the coolest thing happening in our region. 

Last weekend, this reporter went on a bike ride with friends, and as part of the ride we followed the entire length of the recently completed Eureka Waterfront Trail, from the southern end of the Hikshari’ section near Elk River Road to its northeastern terminus near Burre Center. (A celebration of the Eureka Waterfront Trail’s completion will be held Saturday at the Wharfinger Building.)

Back in November, Arcata celebrated the completion of its own section of the Humboldt Bay Trail, which currently comes to an end along the safety corridor, roughly halfway between Arcata and Eureka:

The dream, of course — the ultimate vision — is to fill in that gap, giving Humboldt County a beautiful waterfront trail that stretches all the way from the south end of Eureka to the north end of Arcata. So. Damn. Cool. 

But that last 4.2-mile stretch has proven to be the most challenging, involving a variety of property owners, a defunct rail line, a train trestle bridge, a sawmill and the architectural challenges posed by our rising seas. But the county is determined to get the job done, and staff is inviting the public to get up-to-speed and give input at a meeting later this month.

From the map above it looks like the current plan is to have the trail cross the trestle bridge over the Eureka Slough and then skirt around the north side of the California Redwood Company Mill, which would be badass.

The timeline for this work remains nebulous, but presumably you can get a better idea by attending the meeting at the Wharfinger Building on Feb. 27. Read the county’s press release below for more details:

The County of Humboldt will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, February 27, from 5:30 to 7 pm at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka to discuss the plan to complete the Humboldt Bay Trail between Eureka and Arcata. The community is invited to see the current project design, learn about the strategy for completion, and provide suggestions for improvements.

Humboldt County is leading the development of the “Humboldt Bay Trail South” project to construct the 4.2-mile link between the two trail projects recently completed by the cities of Arcata and Eureka. In addition to serving the region’s transportation needs, the Humboldt Bay Trail will enhance recreational use and enjoyment around the bay.

Attendees at the meeting will be able to see how the current project design fits within the Highway 101 and railroad transportation corridor. In addition, attendees will learn about how challenges and constraints are being addressed, the steps that lie ahead, and opportunities to help make the project successful.

The meeting will begin with an informal open house at 5:30 pm to view exhibits of the current design and talk with planners and engineers. The main presentation will start at 6:00 pm, followed by a question-and-answer and listening session. Humboldt County is interested to receive feedback from community members on the current design plan. The public will also be invited to review and comment on the environmental study report that was developed for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

“As we design the next segment of the Humboldt Bay Trail, we want to be responsive to community needs and sensitive to the context of the project area,” said Hank Seemann, Humboldt County Public Works Deputy-Director. “We’re committed to designing the project in a way that integrates with adjacent land use, minimizes environmental impacts, meets transportation safety goals, and maintains resilience to flooding hazards and sea level rise. We also understand the desire to complete the connection between Eureka and Arcata as soon as possible. This is a major infrastructure project and we’re working hard to complete the various phases of the project development process.”

For more information about the Humboldt Bay Trail, visit: www.humboldtbaytrail.info. The environmental study report for the Humboldt Bay Trail South project will be posted on the website by Tuesday, February 20.