Length: 2.6 miles
Total ascent: 140 feet
Elevations: 130 – 170 feet
Type: 0% loop
Land management: County of Humboldt
Access constraints: Under moderately high water conditions, the Holmes Flat low-water bridge will be impassable and the Tierney Road alternative may have been removed (in October or November depending upon river flow). Plans are underway to replace the old low-water bridge in the next several years.
Description: Like the low-water bridges that allow access to Shively and McCann, the walk across the Holmes Flat bridge follows a quiet road on the east side of the Eel through pasture land, past old fruit trees and a smattering of residences. This pleasant walk also passes the rusting hulk of a Northwestern Railroad bridge over Larabee Creek.
Not surprisingly, this area was once the domain of enormous redwoods. After the land had been cleared, the property on both sides of the river was subdivided into small farms with the exception of the 20,000-acre Larabee Ranch (owned by the Humboldt Redwood Company). A thousand head of cattle grazed this cutover land in the 1940s.
The permanent portions of the existing low-water bridge were originally constructed by the Pacific Lumber Company in 1937 to provide access to farms, ranches, residences, and timberland on the east side of the Eel River. Humboldt County assumed responsibility for the bridge in 1959. Now, during winter months when the low-water bridge is impassable or the temporary Bailey bridge has been removed, access for the residents of Larabee involves a long drive through Larabee Ranch to Shively and on to ‘civilization’.
Getting there: Proceed south on US 101 for 34.9 miles. Take Exit 671 (Holmes/Redcrest). Turn left on the Barkdull Road and right on the Avenue of the Giants (CA 254) in 0.2 mile. Continue south for 2.2 miles. Turn left on the Holmes Flat Road. Follow the Holmes Flat Road for 1.3 miles to a T-junction. Turn right and immediately left (0.2 mile) and look for parking on the side of the road. Be careful not to block access to the private residences clustered around the top of the bluff and the access road down to the closed low-water bridge. To the left at the T-junction is Tierney Road, which leads to the riverbed and a functioning low-water bridge. Parking is possible on the riverbed when the bridge is in. Approximate driving time, 45 minutes.
The route: From the blocked end of the Holmes Flat Road, walk east and down the road to the old low water bridge. The bridge can be easily and safely crossed on foot when the river is low. The Holmes Flat Road climbs the low east bank and again becomes paved. The Holmes Flat Road turns sharply right (0.5) diverging from the unpaved road that continues straight and crosses the inactive Northwestern Pacific Railroad tracks and splits with one fork entering the Larabee Ranch and the other veering left, which is the high water option for leaving the area. The Holmes Flat Road crosses Larabee Creek (1.0) and ends soon (1.3). East along this road is the deteriorating railroad prism and infrastructure of the dormant Northwestern Pacific.
Extras. It is possible to return via the riverbed road to and across the operational downriver low water bridge and along Tierney Road to Holmes Flat Road (1.2 additional miles).