Trinidad (formerly, Port Trinidad, Warnersville, and Warnerville) is a seaside town in Humboldt County, located on the Pacific Ocean 8 miles (13 km) north of the Arcata-Eureka Airport and 15 miles (24 km) north of the college town of Arcata. Situated directly above its own North Coast harbor, California's smallest incorporated city (with a 2000 population of just 311) is noted for its spectacular coastline with ten public beaches and offshore rocks. These rocks are part of the California Coastal National Monument of which Trinidad is a Gateway City. This natural landmark is joined by three additional marine landmarks - the historic Trinidad Head Light, the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse, and Humboldt State University's Fred Telonicher Marine Laboratory. Fishing operations related to Trinidad Harbor are vital to both local tourism and commercial fishery interests in the region. Trinidad lies at an elevation of 174 feet (53 m).
Yurok Indians settled the bluffs over the bay before 1700 CE. The first European sighting of Trinidad Harbor was by the Portuguese navigator Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeño, who did not make landfall. The next visit was by the Spaniard, Bodega, on Trinity Sunday (June 9) 1775. The area was named "la Santisima Trinidad" and claimed for the King of Spain.
Trinidad was incorporated in 1870 as a City of the State of California, USA. Some say that this makes it the first incorporated city in California. The following State Historic Landmarks are in Trinidad: Trinidad Head (146), Town of Trinidad (216), and the Old Indian Village of Tsurai (838). The Trinidad Head Light Station (1720) is a National Registered Landmark, which is located on Trinidad Head.
Trinidad was the original county seat of Klamath County, one of California's original counties, from 1851 to 1854. At that time Trinidad became part of the newly created Humboldt County after its creation in 1853, with its county seat in Eureka. Klamath County was finally dissolved in 1874.
The climate is relatively temperate compared with that of its inland neighbors in the nearby Trinity Alps. The temperatures year-round range from the 40s to 60s Fahrenheit - one of the smallest ranges in the lower 48 states. The winter months are rainy. The ecosystem is ideal for the growth of coastal redwoods, with which the area was once thick. Stands of old growth can still be found 20 miles (32 km) north of Trinidad, in Redwood National Park, and second growth abounds.
As of the census of 2000, there were 311 people, 168 households, and 73 families residing in the city. The population density was 643.0 people per square mile (250.2/km²). There were 228 housing units at an average density of 471.4/sq mi (183.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.86% White, 1.61% Black or African American, 0.32% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.32% Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 1.93% from two or more races. 2.25% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 168 households out of which 12.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 56.5% were non-families. 40.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.85 and the average family size was 2.51.
In the city the population was spread out with 11.3% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 21.9% from 25 to 44, 41.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $40,000, and the median income for a family was $50,357. Males had a median income of $39,583 versus $31,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,050. About 2.3% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.7% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Trinidad is located in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Pat Wiggins, and in the 1st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Patty Berg. Federally, Trinidad is located in California's 1st congressional district.