Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Visitor center
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Beach Wheelchair


  • Visitor center
  • Picnic
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Beach Wheelchair


569 S G St., Arcata, CA, 95521
North Coast
Info: (707) 826-2359
Trails: 4 am until one hour after sunset
Visitor center: Tues.-Sun., 9 am-5 pm
On leash
Last Visited:
November 2008
This 307-acre marsh at the edge of Humboldt Bay and part oof the pacific-flyway, is a haven for more than 250 species of birds. It includes saltwater bay, lake, pond, fresh and saltwater marshes, and mudflats. You'll likely see black-crowned night herons, godwits, egrets, great blue herons, and raptors. Nearly five miles of looping trails connect a cluster of marshy ponds. In addition to the accessible half-mile-long Butcher’s Slough trail, four miles of almost-level, well-maintained trails run atop levees around the marsh. The best times to visit are dawn and near sunset, when the most birds are present.

The Interpretive Center has interactive exhibits, free maps and literature, a bookstore, bird checklists and a log of recent bird sightings. Download a copy of the Butcher Slough self-guided trail pamphlet.

Trails and Pathways

Butcher's Slough Loop Trail
Time to Complete:
30 minutes
Trailhead Location:
Visitor center/parking area
Trail Length:
1-2 total miles
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Typical Terrain:
Trail Overview: This generally levee trail skirts Log Pond just north of the visitor center. Numbered signposts keyed to a pamphlet discuss the sanctuary's history, restoration, natural features, and wildlife. Though an active industrial area is nearby, shrubbery and medium-size trees make this spot feel remote. Across the water, ducks dabble in the shallows and willows are crowded with perching black-crowned night herons.
More Info: This trail is OK in wet weather but other trails in the preserve may get muddy.

Accessibility Features

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, firm, level or slope no greater than 2%

Accessible Restroom:
Yes – Inside visitor center

Beach Wheelchair:
Yes – Available at Interpretive Center on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Accessible Picnic Table:
firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance

Accessible Visitor Center:

Good to Know:
A maze of almost-level, well-maintained trails, totaling four more miles, traverse the marsh levees. These are worth trying, but where they cross old railroad tracks there are 3-to-4-inch steps over the ties or rails. They were not a deterrent in my motorized wheelchair.

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