One of the most striking features of Humboldt County is the magnificent Eel River. The North and Middle Forks of the Eel have been designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic River system, and its watershed is the third largest in California. The river flows through five counties with winding lazy curves to churning whitewater. It runs parallel to the coast and Hwy 101. A large part of its run is through the Avenue of the Giants, making Hwy 101 and the Avenue two of the most scenic roads in Southern Humboldt.
The South Fork of the river skirts the eastern edge of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. During the summer months, the river’s tributaries are slow-moving streams that provide a number of natural pools and safe swimming holes. There are many river access sites within the park. Dyerville Flats, located where the South Fork joins the main branch of the Eel River, features restrooms, picnic tables, an overlook and ample parking. Dyerville is located four miles north of the Visitor Center and very close to the turnout for Founders Grove, Rockefeller Grove and the intersection of Mattole Rd.
The easiest river access to find from the Visitor Center is Gould Bar. A sign marks where the gravel road intersects Avenue of the Giants on the west, just tenths of a mile north of the center. A short drive takes you to two large swimming holes. You can also hike there from the Visitor Center’s parking lot or Burlington campground. High Rock is another access point that is easy to get to. Watch for the High Rock bar sign as you drive north on Avenue the Giants about six miles from the Visitor Center. A short drive down a gravel road takes you to a parking area. From there, it’s a short walk to the expansive bar that offers several ideal and placid sites.