Description - Humboldt Bay NWR is located on Humboldt Bay on the northern California coast, near the cities of Arcata and Eureka. The refuge exists primarily to protect and enhance wetland habitats for migratory waterbirds, especially the black brant, using Humboldt Bay.
- Humboldt Bay NWR has a great diversity of wetland habitats in and adjacent to the Bay. In order of relative abundance they include mud flats, eelgrass beds, diked seasonal wetlands, sand spits, uplands, salt marsh, brackish marsh, and fresh water marsh. Refuge habitats include seasonal wetlands, salt marsh, tidal mud flats and channels, open water, and uplands.
The refuge exists primarily to protect and enhance wetland habitats for migratory waterbirds, especially the black brant, using Humboldt Bay. Concentrations of migratory waterbirds occur in the fall, winter, and spring; on a typical winter day, it is not unusual for over 100,000 birds to use the Bay as a feeding or resting site.
Birds that heavily depend upon the Bay for food include willets, marbled godwits, dunlin, least and western sandpipers, cormorants, black brant, wigeon, greater scaup, bufflehead, surf and white-winged scoters, green-winged teal, pintail, great and snowy egrets, and great blue heron.
The main reason for these waterbird concentrations are the eelgrass beds and extensive mud flats; the Bay contains the largest remaining eelgrass beds south of the Willapa Bay in Washington. These also make the Bay an important spawning, nursery, and feeding area for fish and other marine life. Endangered/threatened species present are the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, brown pelican, western snowy plover, Menzies' wallflower, and beach layia.
This refuge has been described as one of the most important areas in the U.S. south of Alaska for the black brant. This is especially true during the spring when the Bay is a key staging area for brant prior to their return to arctic nesting grounds.
Recreation - Recreation activities include wildlife observation and waterfowl hunting. The refuge has two interpretive trails: 3-mile Hookton Slough Trail open daily, and 1.75-mile Shorebird Loop Trail open seasonally, with a peak viewing season from September through April. Guided walks on the Lanphere Dunes Unit are also available on the first and third Saturdays of each month.
Climate - Summers are generally mild. Fog is often encountered near the coastline, with sunny, warmer weather more common inland in the foothills. Winters are generally cool with considerable precipitation. Recommended clothing includes layers of clothing to accommodate cool to warm temperatures, and rain protection should be included at any time of year.
Humboldt Bay NWR is located on Humboldt Bay on the northern California coast, adjacent to Highway 101, near the cities of Arcata and Eureka. Wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities are available in the South Humboldt Bay portion of the refuge. Take the Hookton Road exit from Highway 101 at the south end of the Bay. To the Hookton Slough trailhead,
drive 1.2 miles west on Hookton Road; the parking area is on the north side of Hookton Road.
To the Refuge office and Salmon Creek Unit: southbound
traffic, turn right at the end of the off ramp, then immediately left onto Ranch Road; northbound traffic, take the overpass, turn right onto Ranch Road.