After more than a decade of advocacy, planning and permitting, a contingent of Manila residents, Redwood Coast Action Agency staff, Caltrans workers, Humboldt County representatives and Redwood Coast Montessori School students gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Manila’s tiny trail, a wheels and pedestrian path that runs about a quarter-mile from Pacific Avenue to Lupin Drive. Hank Seeman, deputy director of environmental services for Humboldt County, kicked off the long-awaited event by thanking the numerous community residents, Caltrans and RCAA for their efforts in making the trail happen. “The future is bright for trails in Humboldt County,” he concluded, “especially on the Samoa Peninsula.”

Humboldt County Supervisor Mike Wilson, whose district includes Manila, agreed, recalling his promise upon being elected to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District in 2005 to have a trail connecting Manila and Arcata by the time his daughter, then in elementary school, graduated high school. “Luckily, I had a second daughter,” he quipped. But he spoke with optimism about future trail expansion to Arcata and beyond.

Supervisor-elect Natalie Arroyo, who will represent the peninsula towns south of the Samoa Bridge, has led Samoa Peninsula safety and beautification efforts over the past several years through her role at RCAA. She echoed the belief that Manila’s tiny trail is the start of better connectivity along the spit.

For the town of Manila, historically divided by a highway, this quarter-mile path has had immediate tangible benefits. Stained-glass artist Colleen Clifford, whose work adorns the interpretive sign on the trail, pointed out that the trail enables residents and students to get safely from Peninsula Drive (where Redwood Coast Montessori is located) to Lupin Drive, a relatively safer place to cross the highway to reach Manila Park or the mini-mart, the town’s only store.

After the remarks, the crowd gathered for a photo op, the ribbon was cut and people lined up for custom-decorated cupcakes from Ramone’s. This marks the second public access win for Manila this year, after the Vance Avenue Parklet debuted in July.

More improvements are in the works, thanks to $900,000 in funding from the Clean California Local Grant Program. Keep up with the Peninsula Community Collaborative on Facebook or by contacting RCAA’s Alysia Bixler to be added to the meetings and announcements email list.