Big River is, as the name implies, big. But it’s also beautiful. It’s also rich with life. It’s also protected. It’s also rich with history. It’s all these things, and so much more. It’s one of Mendocino County’s great resources, and while you can see it by foot or by bicycle, there is truly no better way to appreciate it than by getting on the water and exploring its length.
The history of the land dates back to the very beginning of western settlement of the Mendocino Coast – with the first lumber mill on the coast established at the mouth of Big River in 1852. The mill built here was the most important in Mendocino County for decades, and a 9 mile railway line helped service logging operations (the remains of old wooden trestle bridges can still be spotted on your trip). Logging continued in the area for well over a century, but in 2002 more than 7,400 acres of the watershed were purchased in order to be preserved by the State Parks system. Big River is the longest undeveloped estuary in Northern California.