Watershed

Stories from the Smith River Alliance Newsletter

Paddling in Elk Creek

Exploring Elk Creek – an urban stream

On a sunny day this Fall, we went for a paddle in the Elk Creek Wetlands Wildlife Area located at the south end of Crescent City.  This 120-acre park is hiding in plain sight right at the edge of town east of Highway 101. The park was established in the 1980’s and a small loop trail was built through a part of the wetlands. The trail was popular for a time, but the place fell into disuse over the years.

With its overgrown trails and meadows this wetland park is a natural destination for birders.  Be on the lookout for warblers and other neotropical migrants during spring and fall migrations.  It’s also possible to paddle up Elk creek to an old oxbow pond. The pond is about a mile and a half up the creek. It’s best to start the paddle during an incoming or high tide and then paddle back out as the tide recedes.

For more on birds and natural history at Elk Creek and around the county find a copy of A Birdfinding Guide to Del Norte County, California by Alan D. Barron.  At over 200 pages it is an excellent and fun resource for your adventures! 

The landscape is quiet and serene despite being not much more than a stone’s throw from busy Highway 101.  The lower reaches of Elk Creek braids out onto a broad floodplain and there are several side channels and ponds. In spite of channel alterations in the early development of Crescent City, the place still has high wildlife value, including a significant population of endangered coho salmon.

Learn more about our Elk Creek work here.