Great Redwood Trail Agency: New 320-mile Trail to connect SF Bay to Humboldt Bay

Photo: A future stretch of the Great Redwood Trail at the confluence of Blue Rock Creek and the mainstem Eel River. Photo by Alicia Hamann for The Great Redwood Traill Agency

This March, the Great Redwood Trail Agency took ownership of the North Coast’s crumbling rail line and kicked off the process to build what will become the longest Rail Trail in America.

After 30 years of controversy, massive policy setbacks, and near bankruptcy – the North Coast Railroad Agency officially ceased operations today, per state law passed by Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire.

The Great Redwood Trail Agency (GRTA), created by McGuire’s SB 69, now takes over the rail corridor and is charged with advancing the Trail Master Plan later this fall and building the Great Redwood Trail on top of the current rail bed. When fully built, the Great Redwood Trail will run from the San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay.

Senator McGuire spoke to the new GRTA at their inaugural meeting this morning:

We’re finally transitioning away from an agency that for 30 years was the heart of controversy here on the North Coast – one that was full of project missteps, the focus of lawsuits, and constantly teetering on bankruptcy – the North Coast Railroad Authority will officially cease to exist today.

And now – thanks to thousands of mobilizing throughout this state – the Great Redwood Trail era has begun.

The Great Redwood Trail will be a game changer for our region and the Golden State. Transitioning this railroad right-of-way is a win-win.

The Great Redwood Trail will quickly become a landmark, world class, hiking/biking/riding trail that will run from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay.

As stewards of the right of way, you know how truly special this corridor is… The Trail will traverse through some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth including ancient redwoods, state parks and national forests, golden oak-studded hills, lush vineyards and along the shores of the Eel and Russian Rivers.

The Trail will serve not only as recreational, social, and exercise path, but will quickly become an economic driver for the north coast communities it runs through. Outdoor recreation was a $93 billion dollar industry in this state before COVID, and is coming back to that level quickly.

Under the new law, Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) will be in charge of the Great Redwood Trail from Larkspur to Cloverdale, and the Great Redwood Trail Agency will build the trail from Cloverdale to Humboldt Bay.

The State Coastal Conservancy, who is also in charge of the California Coastal Trail, will be working with the GRTA on the Masterplan for the Trail, a process that will start on July 1st.

Read more industry news here.