In the big trees or beyond, the heart of California’s Redwood Coast offers many adventures. Whether on a day trip or multi-night stay in Northern Humboldt County, here are ten top suggestions.
Take A Drive
Three easy road trips showcase ancient forests, rugged coast and alpine prairies. First, the Newton B. Drury Parkway, a scenic stretch that rivals the Avenue of the Giants for redwood beauty, threads its way through 11 miles of tree giants in Redwood National & State Parks, with plenty of waysides to stop. Second, the nine-mile Coastal Drive, accessed from the Drury Parkway, offers stunning views of the Pacific and Klamath River. Take a trail to a World War II radar station disguised as a barn. Or spy whales and sea lions from the High Bluff Overlook. Third, north of Orick, go east on Bald Hills Road as the forests give way to sunny prairies, with picnic spots full of seasonal wildflowers, Roosevelt elk and Pacific panoramas.
Bike Under The Big Trees
Redwood National & State Park maintains many bike-friendly nature paths, including Lost Man Creek, Davison Trail and Streelow Creek Trail, which feature old-growth forests, scenic prairies and beautiful beaches. Pick up trail maps or rent mountain bikes at Redwood Adventures in Orick. For more relaxed peddling, and to see some of the biggest trees on Earth, cruise along Cal-Barrel Road, a graded one-laner, or the Newton Drury Parkway, which often closes on first Saturdays to motorized traffic.
Go With A Guide
Forest bathe among the super trees, paddle with pinnipeds or watch whales from a boat. A trusty guide or captain can help. In Redwood National Park, Redwood Adventures has experienced naturalists who can lead you to secret redwood giants, herds of Roosevelt elk or Fern Canyon. In Orick and Trinidad, Kayak Zak’s and Kayak Trinidad rent kayaks and lead freshwater and saltwater trips. For an offshore experience, whether to reel in sport fish or see migrating whales, charter boats based in Trinidad can accommodate. Back on land, the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust regularly hosts free guided tours on coast trails and beaches, often on Saturdays.
Get Hitched In Humboldt
Couples from all over the planet come to Northern Humboldt to marry under the redwoods. Redwood National & State Parks. Intimate locations to tie the knot with a dozen or so guests include Schmidt Grove, Remembrance Grove and Berry Glen Trail. The park fee for a wedding permit is $80 for parties of 50 or fewer and $225 for larger groups. Want to be more grounded? Wedding Rock, on a bluff overlooking the ocean in nearby Patrick’s Point State Park, is a romantic venue that lives up to its name.
Visit An Indian Village
Take nothing but right turns in Patrick’s Point State Park and you’ll arrive at a carefully recreated Native American settlement, designed and built by local Yuroks, who use Sumeg Village for occasional ceremonies. Otherwise the public is encouraged to explore the redwood plank houses, sweathouse, dance pit and redwood canoes, which, like other traditional boats from the region, have structures identified with primary organs, such as the heart, the lungs and kidneys. Enter the narrow circular crawlways in the plank houses, intended to keep out bears, wait a moment in the darkness, and you’ll see the pit and stone floors where a fire served as a central heating unit. This year, the park welcomes two Yurok cultural interpreters, who will have a special focus on village life.
Tinker In A Tide Pool
Hermit crabs. Darting fish. Sea anemones. The denizens of the not-so-deep delight nature lovers who scramble about tide pools around Trinidad and Orick, such as Moonstone and Trinidad beaches. Perhaps the best spot for such low tide explorations is Palmer’s Point in Patrick’s Point State Park. The tide pools at the foot of this lesser known point are among the largest, most numerous and most likely to reveal hidden wonders, including the occasional abalone, octopus or monkey-faced eel. For a deeper understanding of these shallow paradises join the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust for a guided Saturday tour of these and other tide pools.
Ride In The Redwoods
To really hoof it in Humboldt, we suggest saddling up in Redwood National Park. To horse around with help, take a guided tour with Redwood Creek Buckarettes, experienced riders, instructors and nature interpreters, who lead four-legged treks from the Orick Rodeo Grounds. The four-hour ride includes a scenic picnic stop. All rides stop at a tree with a large goose pen, perfect for a photo op of you and your equine pal inside a redwood. Daily May thru November. Off season rides are weather dependent.
Art, Wine And Dine In Trinidad
Despite being the smallest incorporated town in California, this seaside fishing village, eighteen miles south of Redwood National Park, is big into art, culture and cuisine. Browse through galleries. Enjoy evening art walks (first Fridays May to September). Sip local wines in an ocean view tasting room. Explore souvenir shops and museums with impressive local Yurok artifacts, such as jewelry made from dentalium shells, small tubular mollusks resembling tiny elephant tusks used for currency in the region. Have an appetite for more? The town has relaxed wine tasting rooms and cafes specializing in local organics and Humboldt seafood, some hauled in from the Trinidad Pier. Try grilled rock cod, an oyster sandwich or lunch in a cone made from potatoes.
Talk To A Giant
A 50-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan, standing sentinel along with Babe the Blue Ox at the Trees of Mystery, often startles guests with a booming hello or funny quip in the parking lot. About 25 miles north of Orick on Hwy 101, the roadside attraction features a redwood walk with oddball trees and a sky gondola with an ocean panorama. But go into the back of the gift and snack shop to see the prize attraction, one of the largest private collections of Native American artifacts in the world.
Go Wild, Child
Focus the energy of the youngsters so they can learn about nature and win prizes. The Junior Ranger Program at Redwood National Park offer two ways to collect shiny badges. Children can fill out a ranger activity booklet at a park visitor center, or join grownup rangers on seasonal programs with games, crafts or hikes. To earn cool patches, they can complete any number of Redwood EdVentures, scientific scavenger hunts at local parks and forests. To sample the sea, the Humboldt State University marine lab in Trinidad delights with aquaria and touch tanks full of sneaky octopi, Irish lord fish, pipe-like sea horse cousins, and sea stars, anemone and cucumbers.