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Finishing off Coast to Crest Trail

The view from the top of the Ship Mountain Fire Lookout along the Coast to Crest Trail.
The view from the top of the Ship Mountain Fire Lookout along the Coast to Crest Trail. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hendrick
Funding has been obtained for completion of the last leg of the Coast to Crest Trail, and a hike is planned Saturday to celebrate the fact.

The Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) of the USDA Forest Service has awarded a $33,598 grant to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment to complete restoration of the remaining 8.6 miles of the 50-mile Coast to Crest Trail.

In celebration of the beginning of the end of the trail construction, self-guided hikes will be organized on the recently completed trails between the Big Flat campground and Hurdygurdy Creek and beyond. The first section is an easy 2-mile hike along Hurdygurdy Creek.  More adventurous hikers can cross Hurdygurdy Creek and hike up to see the historic mining flume or cross over the ridge into the Cant Hook Creek canyon.

Anyone interested in hiking should meet at noon Saturday.  Park near the interpretive kiosk at the trail head about ¼ mile along Big Flat Road or park near the entrance to the Big Flat Campground and hike a short distance up the trail to the interpretive kiosk at the trail head. Hikers will be provided a trail map and orientation to the possible hiking options.

Since 2004 the Rose Foundation has secured nearly $900,000 in grant funding to restore the historic Kelsey Trail, a mule trail built in the late 1800s from the Crescent City harbor to Fort Jones near Yreka and the gold fields inland. When it is completed, the Coast to Crest Trail is envisioned as a 50-mile trek that will link up existing trails from the Crescent City Harbor to Harrington Mountain in the Siskiyou Wilderness.  

From 2007 to 2012, the Rose Foundation led a team that restored and rebuilt recently rediscovered sections of the historic Kelsey Trail from Boulder Creek to Big Flat, funded through a $846,000 grant from the California Resources Agency. 

“This project represents a model of a cooperative effort with the USDA Forest Service, which will expand economic development opportunities related to tourist-serving businesses that can take advantage of Del Norte County’s beautiful environment and pull money into the local community,” said Kevin Hendrick, project manager and vice president of the Board of Directors of the Rose Foundation.

“When the Coast to Crest Trail is fully developed it will be a world-class hiking experience that will draw tourists to Del Norte County.” 

The recent RAC grant will be used primarily to restore, repair and maintain the 8.6-mile section of the historic South Kelsey Trail between Harrington Creek and Harrington Mountain.  The Rose Foundation will contract with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) under the supervision of on-site construction manager Clarke Moore and project manager Hendrick to ensure that the standards of the Forest Service are met.  Construction is scheduled to be completed next month.

“The next step will be to reconvene all of the partners that met when this project kicked off six years ago to get agreement to adopt the Coast to Crest Trail as a brand for promoting our county,” said Hendrick.

“This will provide an opportunity for cooperation between the Crescent City Harbor, State and National Parks, Six Rivers National Forest and the Smith River National Recreation Area.  Beyond the borders of our county, there is the potential to establish a cooperative relationship with adjacent agencies to consider connecting the Coast to Crest Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail.” 

In the past, the Rose Foundation has funded the Crescent Elk Garden project, provided fiscal sponsorship for the Aleutian Goose Festival, and funded feasibility studies for environmentally-oriented economic development projects related to boosting tourism.

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