Coast to Crest Trail

Rocking and Rolling on the Kelsey Trail

Crew 1, supervised by Peter Luvaas, returned on July 7 and the summer construction season began on the Kelsey Trail. By the end of this spike, #4 of 2010, Crew 1 had created a very walkable trail along the original trail bed. The connecting trail was passable for a good hiker. Some widening, repair and tread work is still needed along the original trail bed, and the narrows remains.

The spike camp at the Big Flat Campground became a favorite stopping point for neighborhood bears. After the bears borrowed some tasty morsels, Crewmembers quickly learned to keep food well stored, not out and easily available. Deterrent measures ranged from gesturing, shouting, handclapping and metal noise makers, to rock throwing. No causalities were reported!

As September arrived, Crew 1 returned for spike #5. Staging from the Gordon Creek Trailhead on South Fork Road, Crew 1 set to completing the work on the original trail bed and the connecting trail. After using two Humboldt crossings, a re-route to reduce steepness, some tough gripping and tread work and removal of a large wind-fall, the connecting trail is nearing completion. A very well-made crib wall was constructed along the original trail bed.

After much consultation, it was decided that going up and over the narrows was the best option. Brush clearing and grubbing began and a grade of 3-4 feet above the existing grade was established at both ends. A large rock, about 6 feet tall by 3-4 feet around, was encountered at the mid-point. After further clearing and prying proved unsuccessful, Peter suggested the use of a hydraulic car jack to push the rock off the trail. This happened on the last full day of spike #5, so the car- jacking would have to wait.

Crew 4, supervised by Johnny Bartlett, arrived and received updates on the progress to date. After much mumbling, gesturing and shuffling between Peter, Johnny and Clarke, it was decided the car-jacking will work. The stage is set. Crew 4 will do the honors.

All crewmembers were present for the rock rolling. After two jack placements with full extension, the rock was now on the brink. Amid cheers and hollering, the rock rolled from the brink, split into many large pieces at first impact and continued down the slope. A successful car-jacking!

As spike #6 ends, we now have a finished trail from the Boulder Creek Trailhead to the Gordon Creek Trail. Crew 4 has also created a connecting trail from South Fork Road to the original trail bed upriver from the Gordon Creek slide. We will reach the Canthook Creek crossing of the South Fork by the end of spike #7.

Congratulations and thanks go to Crew 1, Peter Luvaas, Supervisor, Crew 6, Mike Joyer, Supervisor and Crew 4, Johnny Bartlett, Supervisor for their very skilled work.

Happy trails!
Clarke Moore, Trail Supervisor


June 2010 – Coast to Crest Trail Construction Resumes – Even in the Rain

Despite unseasonably late rains and cool temperatures along the Trail, work began in earnest on April 28. California Conservation Corps Crew 6, supervised by Mike Joyer, began work in a rainstorm. Snow had been falling just prior to their arrival, but none remained on the ground as the spike began! The Crew immediately began creating a safe route from the Boulder Creek trail head on South Fork Road to the main trail below.

Members of California Conservation Corps Crew 6 as they prepare to work on the Coast to Crest Trail.

As the brush was cleared, the old trail bed became apparent. Though it had been widened during the 1950’s with bulldozers, the route was unmistakable. The first major watercourse signaled the end of the previously widened trail. Active collaboration between Mike Joyer, Don Pass and Clarke Moore produced a viable route across this difficult section. Due to continuing rain and wet soils, only minimal tread work could be done.

Once across the watercourse, brushing revealed the original trail bed!! Mostly sound and intact, it continues upriver with views of the South Fork of the Smith River, sounds of water flowing, emerging springs, forests, and solitude. The gradient is mostly flat. Crewmembers noticed that vegetation was not growing out of the trail bed. They were informed that mules create that kind of compactness. The crew was very excited to be working on such a historical and pre-historical project.

As the first spike came to an end, a rough half-mile trail upriver was in place.

Work resumed on May 1 with the arrival of Crew 1, supervised by Peter Luvaas. Six of the crewmembers are from the Del Norte Workforce Center. Wet, rainy weather persisted, but soils were dry enough for tread work to be done. Work at the watercourse was the top priority for this spike. Crew 1 was successful in creating and completing an excellent crossing. This was no easy feat!! Further brushing and tread work continued upstream along the old trail bed. Tread work near the trail head on South Fork Road continued. By the end of the 2nd spike, the finished trail is now beyond the major watercourse.

As Crew 6 returned, the weather continued to be wet, rainy and cool. The goals for this spike were:

  1. Finish the trail as far upriver as possible, and to the Boulder Creek trail head on South Fork Road.
  2. Finish work at the crossing.
  3. Continue the rough trail as close to Gordon Creek Trail as possible.

In spite of unfavorable conditions, road closures, water shortages, crew promotions and more, these goals were achieved. At the end of the 3rd spike, the Trail is finished from the Boulder Creek trail head upriver at least 1/2 – 3/4 of a mile!!

Both crews are to be congratulated for their excellent work!

Of special note: during the last spike, crewmember Mitchell Castaneda was informed that he was going to the “wilderness crew” in Yosemite where his friend Sam, who worked on the Coast to Crest trail last year, is stationed. This is quite an honor and Mitchell is now a member of a select group. Congratulations to you, Mitchell.

Happy trails, Clarke Moore – Trail Construction Supervisor

CCC Crew 1 reporting to duty in a rainstorm.

February 2010 Update – Coast to Crest Trail Construction On Hold for Winter

On August 12, 2009 the California Conservation Corps began construction near an area called Oro Grande which was used over 100 years ago as a location for gold mining using hydraulic (water pressure) methods to search for gold. From Oro Grande the trail crosses Hurdy Gurdy Creek and starts the climb uphill to cross the ridge into the pristine old growth forest of upper Cant Hook Creek. Construction continued until November 25th and stopped for the winter. Significant progress was made cutting a rough trail grade following along Cant Hook Creek.

Construction will resume in April or May 2010, as the schedule of the California Conservation Corps will allow, and is expected to be complete by the end of 2010.

(l) California Conservation Corps crew members restore the trail along the old mining flume. (r) CCC Crew members and Clarke Moore showcase the new staircase.

(l) Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, tours the new trail. (r) California Conservation Corps crew members Traydvn White and Lashawndra Johnson show off local press coverage on the Coast to Crest Trail construction.

October 2009 – Executive Director Tim Little Visits Trail Construction Site

Recently, Rose Foundation Executive Director Tim Little traveled to Crescent City to check on the progress of the Coast to Crest trail construction. As timing would have it, during his visit, the local newspaper, The Daily Triplicate, published two articles on the Coast to Crest Trail. One article is about the trail itself, and the other is about the California Conservation Corps (CCC) crew that is building the trail.

Progress on the trail is very impressive. So far, the Corps has completed almost three miles of the trail, and have another 2-3 miles sketched out. They will continue working until the rainy season, and the trail will be completed in the spring of 2010.

No visit to the Coast to Crest trail can be complete without a hike. Tim was joined by trail construction supervisor Clarke Moore, and project supervisor Kevin Hendrick on a hike from Cant Hook Creek to Hurdy Gurdy Creek. Explaining one of the many reasons for the Rose Foundation’s participation in this trail construction, Tim said: “This is not only a beautiful trail, but also has the ability to spark trekking and eco-tourism, which will be good for Del Norte County’s economy. Plus, how many other places can you start a hike at the ocean, go through ancient redwood groves, and end up on top of the world?”

(l) Trail construction supervisor Clarke Moore points out where the trail will continue – right through this area of fallen trees. (r) Project manager Kevin Hendricks, Clarke Moore, CCC Supervisor Jim McArthur and Rose Foundation Executive Director Tim Little check out the trail construction.

Mr. Little was also very impressed with the CCC crewmembers he met. They come from all over California, and even one member is from Western Pennsylvania. The crew is very enthusiastic about the work, and some have even brought their families to visit the trail on their days off. One crewmember talked about how impressive it is that a trail built 100 years ago has held up so well, and is excited to know that the trail being built now will be around for more than 100 years. Overall, CCC is also pleased with this project and plans to continue to work with the Rose Foundation after the trail is completed on regular improvement and maintenance.

Part of the visit also included a tour of the California Conservation Corps residential center in Fortuna. While there, Tim met with Conservation Supervisor Robert Frechou and Center Director Michelle Rankin. The CCC is an intense program where the crewmembers work rotations of eight days on and six days off, working on natural resources projects and emergency response to natural disasters. At the Fortuna location there is even a high school where crewmembers without a high school diploma can complete coursework to get their GED on their non-working days.

When asked if they had trouble finding people to undertake such hard work, Director Rankin said they have no problem filling spots. With the availability of the Internet, people anywhere can find out about the Corps. She said that many participants join as a way to change their lives and this work gives them a positive focus and outlet. The Rose Foundation is pleased to be partnering with the California Conservation Corps on rebuilding this piece of California history.

For more information about the California Conservation Corps programs, you can visit the CCC website at: //

September 29 Update – Construction Begins

Coast to Crest project manager and Rose Foundation board member, Kevin Hendrick, with Jill Dovre prepare to cross Hurdy Gurdy Creek on the newly built section of the Coast to Crest Trail.

On August 12, 2009 the California Conservation Corps began construction on the Coast to Crest Trail Project. This Rose Foundation project is funded by Proposition 50 through the California Resources Agency’s River Parkways grant program. Construction has started near an area called Oro Grande, which was used over 100 years ago as a location for gold mining using hydraulic (water pressure) methods to search for gold. Although nature has taken back the area, there are many indications of this historic use. There are still whole intact portions of the water flume that was built to channel water from an uphill stream to provide the water for gold extraction. From Oro Grande the trail crosses Hurdy Gurdy Creek and starts the climb uphill to cross the ridge into the pristine old growth forest of Cant Hook Creek Valley.

Rose Foundation is constructing a 6-mile trail element that will connect an existing trail system from the Pacific Coast in Crescent City to create a fifty-mile world-class trail to Harrington Mountain in the Siskiyou Wilderness. This Coast to Crest Trail follows ancient routes of Native American trails and in many areas uses the original trail bed of the historic Kelsy Trail, which was built in the 1850’s as a route from the Crescent City harbor to Fort Jones near Yreka and to the gold fields of Oregon. We expect construction to be completed by summer 2010. We will be providing periodic updates and photos of the trail as construction continues.


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