Watch the whales, now from land

Great news land lubbers: Weekly whale watching walking tours are almost here.

Kayak Trinidad, one of the North Coast’s top paddle outfitters and guide services, will offer a two-hour walking tour among the cliffs of the beautiful seaside village of Trinidad, California. They will start Feb. 23rd and go every Sunday through May.

For those of you who love seeing whales but are less inclined to venture into the ocean in kayaks, this guided tour lead by their seasoned guides and naturalists is a great option. And it’s only $25 per person.

Call 707-329-0085, email or visit for details and reservations

3 perfect off-season trips

Redwoods by Candlelight. Gary Todorff

Don’t run from the cool weather. Embrace it. Own it. Light it up by candlelight in the forest. Hike to a gushing waterfall. Or spy on seals along the mouth of a river. Here are three autumn adventures in Northern Humboldt County will will make the season pass like a cool breeze.


Redwoods by Candlelight

Fog or sunshine, which sky conditions provide the optimal view experience to marvel at the redwoods? Hard to say, with pros and cons for each. But there’s a third option gaining popularity: darkness. 

For the 30th annual Candlelight Walk in the Redwoods, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park will, due to public demand, host the event over two evenings, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7. Doors will open at 5 p.m. in the visitor center, a shabby-chic cabin built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, just north of Orick. 

After snacks, a raffle and silent auction to benefit the park, the luminary-lit processions will proceed at 6 p.m., on an easy ¼-mile level path to the campfire ring, for tales as tall as the trees. Please leave your candles and dogs at home. Advance reservations, which begin Nov. 1, are highly recommended ($10, free to kids 12 and under). Rain or shine. Call (707) 465-7327 or visit

Trillium Falls

With star attractions like big trees, Roosevelt elk and Fern Canyon, Redwood National and State Park visitors often overlook a fourth natural star, the Trillium Falls Trail, which features deciduous and redwood forests, Pacific rhododendron, plenty of Western trillium — one of the foremost wildflowers on the North Coast — and patches of giant trillium, in the spring.

But the real showcase of the moderate trail loop, which rises and falls and switches back and forth over 3 miles, is Trillium Falls, the largest and most beautiful in the parks, which really shows off in the fall rains. A steel bridge over Prairie Creek offers an excellent view of the boulder-strewn cascade. 

To start the walk to the water from U.S. Highway 101 just north of Orick, go west on Davison Road at the Elk Meadow Day Use Area, then take a quick left to the parking area, which has restrooms, picnic tables and, sometimes, a herd of resting elk. Start at the trailhead at the southern end and tiptoe around said antlered layabouts if present.

Hammond Trail

Lastly, do Humboldt like the locals do — they selected the Hammond Trail, a 5-mile section of the California Coastal Trail between Arcata and McKinleyville, as the best place to walk, jog and bike in one reader poll. Besides two-wheeled riders, the path, which meanders along a river, estuary, beaches, forests and sand hills, welcomes riders on four hooves. 

It begins in the Arcata Bottoms at the old steel bridge, retired to trains but open to pedestrians. Look down at the Mad River and you may see people and sea lions alike chasing the same schools of fish. Go north and stop at the market near Widow White Creek and School Road for refreshments. A bit farther north, turn the kids loose on the playground at Hiller Park. Or near the northern end of the trail, which climaxes with panoramic views of Clam Beach. Hop down a Billy goat trail into the coastal meadow for a closer look at harbor seals lounging about by the hundreds around the Mad River mouth.

From the Humboldt Insider Fall 2019 edition.


Film, fun collide in North Humboldt

Almost Heroes at Trinidad Beach

High and low art alike pair perfectly with cinematic lore in Northern Humboldt, where one can follow in the footsteps of A to Z list actors while enjoying local culture.

Matthew Perry and the late Chris Farley, for example, might not have won Oscars for Almost Heroes (1998), which scored an 8 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, while filming on location in Northern Humboldt. Still, the scenery shines in the goofball period comedy in which the pair race Lewis and Clarke through the American frontier, especially when they reach their goal, the Pacific, at Trinidad State Beach.

Other scenes might better have found the cutting room floor, like the face slapping contest with Native Americans. Nevertheless, the fishing village of Trinidad showcases real Indian culture, whether in its museum, a nearby recreated Yurok village in Patricku2019s Point State Park, or its souvenir shops, which display and sell jewelry made in traditional style from dentalium, small delicate tusk shells, once common in the region and used as a kind of de facto currency.

Humboldt County (2008), a dramedy in which a Los Angeles med student accidentally disappears into the Emerald Triangle, features in its finale stunning Luffenholtz County Beach south of Trinidad off of U.S. Highway 101, a favorite spot for plein air artists. Jutting sea stacks, ocean cliffs, secluded coves and sea caves, sea lions and star fish all find their way on canvases and photographs hanging in local storefronts, including the Trinidad Art Gallery, a co-op featuring original creations of some of Humboldt’s finest artists. For more artistic revelry, carouse through town during Trinidad Arts Night, the first Friday every month from May through October.

Finally, what’s not to love about a bro-mance in which one of the leads just happens to be dead? It’s only a minor detail for Swiss Army Man (2016), which transforms the beaches and forests around Trinidad into a deserted tropical island. Paul Dano impresses alongside Daniel Radcliffe, sans Hogwarts wizard wand. Despite the strange premise, the film delivers a creative tour de force, in large part because the corpse, improbably, serves as a platform for musical and artistic expression for Dano’s character, whether as muse, de facto woodwind instrument or flaming canvas.

Find yourself more traditionally inspired when Trinidad hosts the Trinidad Bay Art & Music Festival each August, featuring acclaimed classical musicians and visual artists.