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One Tam: many ways to give back to the mountain that gives us so much

Redwood Creek Trail Realignment & Floodplain Restoration

Redwood Creek connects ancient redwood forest to the sea. It is home to endangered coho salmon, threatened steelhead trout, and California red-legged frogs, as well as diverse plant and bird species. One Tam partners are caring for this important ecological corridor and its inhabitants through a sequence of projects that improve trails and enhance habitats.

One Tam partners began planning the Redwood Creek Trail Realignment Project nearly 13 years ago with stream and floodplain restoration in mind. The trail re-alignment portion of the project was completed in 2023 which moved approximately one mile of trail and created space for another project to benefit endangered coho salmon and improve climate change resilience in the riparian corridor. One Tam partners are currently looking to complete this habitat enhancement project in 2025.

Improving the Trail

The Redwood Creek Trail weaves its way through beautiful oak and bay woodlands, and alder, willow, and elderberry-lined riparian areas for 1.8 miles along its namesake waterway. Stretching between Muir Beach and Muir Woods, the trail is a well-used thoroughfare for people visiting these popular sites.

The former Redwood Creek Trail alignment closely paralleled the creek for about a mile and had ten horse fords. The trail’s location in the creek’s floodplain resulted in poor drainage and often muddy and wet conditions during the rainy season. The wet season is also when coho and steelhead are laying their eggs along the adjacent gravelly stream bottom. Regular use of the trail and horse fords would send fine sediment into the creek, smothering the streambed and depleting the creek’s oxygen.

The new trail was installed between 2020 and 2023 by the California State Parks Trail Crew, and by California Conservation Corps and American Conservation Experience crews. New equestrian bridges were installed over Redwood Creek and small tributaries to protect water quality, create a safe equestrian pathway, and reduce potential damage to the trail from winter storms.

The next phase of the project will be done in areas beyond the trail realignment to improve the trail surface, remove culverts, and restore the natural hydrology at locations where tributaries of Redwood Creek cross the trail. 

Next: Restoring the Floodplain and Enhancing Habitat

The realignment of the trail is an important step toward restoring this section of Redwood Creek. But the creek and its inhabitants still face other challenges. Past land-clearing actions accelerated erosion, causing the creek channel to cut deeply into the soil. The deep channel allows water to quickly drain out of the watershed to the ocean. During large winter storms, there are few places for young fish to shelter and they are washed out of protective pools. During the summer, the water in the creek is very low and there are few cool, deep pools for young fish. Additionally, the channel is not connected to the floodplain, so the water and nutrients that could support wetland habitat are washed away.

Since 2019, California State Parks and the Parks Conservancy have studied the challenges in this section of Redwood Creek and have been designing a habitat enhancement project. The goals are to slow and collect water in the creek, provide safe hiding spaces for young salmon during the summer and winter, and reconnect the stream to the floodplain to restore lost wetlands.

Moving forward, the One Tam team is working diligently to finalize designs with the goal of completing important salmon habitat enhancements in 2025.

Data & Documents

Several years of hydrologic data collection throughout the watershed forms the scientific baseline for habitat enhancements, captured in these datasets: Water Surface Elevation, Specific Conductance, and Temperature. These results and their application to designs are detailed in these planning documents: Site Analysis Report, Feasibility Study, and 35% Design Basis Report.

Caring Collaboratively for Redwood Creek

The Redwood Creek trail realignment and habitat enhancements build upon the ongoing investment and commitment made by One Tam partners to the Redwood Creek Watershed. A collaborative process of caring for the watershed was initiated with the 2002 Redwood Creek Watershed Vision, which brought together community stakeholders, land management agencies and technical experts to create a vision to guide management of the area. One Tam expands this partnership to share resources across boundaries and support successful restoration projects such as the Muir Beach Redwood Creek Restoration, the Redwood Creek Trail Realignment Project, Redwood Renewal at Muir Woods, and now the Redwood Creek Habitat Enhancement Project at Mt. Tamalpais State Park.