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Find yourself amongst these iconic giants pf the northwest in the Golden State's stunning redwood forests. Explore Highway 101 – also known as the Redwood Highway – for scenic coastal bluffs, forested towns, and some new, tall friends.
Day 1: Eureka
Visit Ft. Humboldt State Historic Park in Eureka, Broadway and Highland, (707) 445-6567, the northernmost military post on coast. It has many historic buildings and Native American, pioneer, logging and military collections on exhibit. Old Town Eureka, Second & F Street, (707) 443-5097, has Victorian era buildings, shops, art galleries and restaurants to enjoy.
Old Town Carriage Company, Gazebo at 2nd & F Streets, (646) 591-2058, offers 20 & 40-minute tours of the area in elegant horse-drawn carriages. Clark Memorial Museum, 340 E. Street, (707) 443-1947, housed in the historic Bank of Eureka building, has a large collection of Northwestern California Native American basketry and beautiful ceremonial dress.
The Humboldt Bay Harbor & Cruise, bottom of C Street, (707) 445-1910, offers Bay cruises on a 1910 ferry. The North Coast Railroad, 4 West Second Street, (800) 305-RAIL, (707) 444-8055, provides short excursions throughout Humboldt County, with Sunset Dinner and Murder Mystery runs.
Romano Gabriel Sculpture Garden, 315 Second Street, is the product of a carpenter turned artist whose wooden folk art has become a national treasure. Preserved in a glass exhibit area, it can be seen anytime. Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, 1410 Second Street, (707) 444-9440, has both inside and outside exhibits celebrating the maritime history of the North Coast. Samoa Cookhouse Museum, Samoa Peninsula on Humboldt Bay, (707) 442-1659, is the last lumber-camp style cookhouse in the West. It is a logging industry museum and restaurant.
Day 2: Fortuna / Scotia
Drive south on US 101 to the Eel River Valley of Loleta, Fortuna, and Scotia and the upper portion of the Avenue of the Giants scenic drive (the unique Victorian town of Ferndale can be visited now or on last day of tour. See details at end of tour).
Visit Loleta Cheese Factory, 252 Loleta Dr, just off the highway, (800) 995-0453, or (707) 733-5470, a family-run business that produces quality, award winning cheeses. You can view the process and taste the product. In Fortuna, visit the restored 1893 Depot Museum, Park Drive, in the 55-acre Rohner Park Redwood forest, (707) 725-2495, that includes collections ranging from barbed wire to railroading.
Continue south on 101 to Scotia (10 miles), one of the last remaining company-owned towns in the country. It was founded in 1910 by Pacific Lumber Company. The A Mill was built in 1887 and currently produces Douglas fir lumber. Mill B, built in 1910, is the world’s largest redwood sawmill. Tours are available from 125 Main Street, (707) 764-2222. The Company’s Logging Museum on Main Street, is open during summer months. Head to Fortuna.
Day 3: Weaverville / Whiskeytown Lake
From Fortuna, take scenic 36 southeast along the Van Duzen and Mad Rivers to junction with 3, nine miles past Forest Glen. The highway is steep and winding, but beautiful. Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, (707) 777-3683 is along the way. At junction, take 3 to Weaverville and Whiskeytown Lake.
In Weaverville, visit the Jake Jackson Memorial Museum-Trinity County Historical Park, (530) 623-5211, with gold mining memorabilia, Native American artifacts and Chinese immigrant exhibits. A large Chinese population was here after the gold rush era. The Joss House State Historic Park, (530) 623-5284, has the oldest, continuously used Taoist temple in California, built in the late 1800s.
Whiskeytown Lake, part of the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is great for boating and water sports. A memorial to John F. Kennedy, who dedicated the dam just prior to his death, is on the south shore. Continue to Redding.
Day 4: Redding / Anderson / Red Bluff / Willows
Visit Shasta State Historic Park, three miles west on 299, site of the historic mining town of Shasta that includes an old general store, courthouse, and one of the oldest Masonic Lodges in the state. Carter House Natural Science Museum, (530) 243-5457, provides nature, science and animal displays from the area. Take I-5 north for Lake Shasta, Lake Shasta Caverns, Castle Crags State Park, and Dunsmuir.
Shasta Dam is 12 miles north of Redding and is the second largest and highest concrete structure in the country, 3 times higher than Niagara Falls. The Visitor Center is at Shasta Lake City, (530) 275-1554. Take the O’Brien/Shasta Caverns exit off I-5, 15 miles north of Redding, for the Caverns’ headquarters chalet. Visitors are ferried across the McCloud arm of the lake to the caverns. Allow two hours for excursion. Guided tours every hour on the hour in summer; three tours daily in winter, (530) 238-2341, fee.
Continue on I-5 to Castle Crags State Park, 35 miles north of Redding, (530) 235-2684. Here crags, formed more than 225 million years ago, reach heights of 6,000 feet. There are numerous hiking trails in the park, overlooking the Sacramento River. Stop in Dunsmuir to enjoy a picturesque railroad town. At Dunsmuir Museum, you can see historic railroad memorabilia from the area. Don’t miss the Redding Museum of Art & History in Caldwell Park, 1701 Rio Drive, for Native American artifacts and exhibits of local and national artist.
Take I-5 south for Anderson; the Shasta Factory Outlets stores are just off the freeway at Deschutes exit. Continue to Red Bluff and visit the William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park, named for the only president of the California Republic. An 1846 adobe pioneer house is on site. The Kelly-Griggs House Museum is a restored Victorian mansion complete with furnishing. Area antique shops attract all types of collectors.
In Willows, the Glen County Museum, (530) 924-8150, has all kinds of pioneer memorabilia. The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is located south of Willows. At Williams, take 20 west to junction with 53 and south to Clearlake. The lake is California’s largest natural freshwater lake.
Day 5: Clearlake / Willits
From Clearlake, take 53 south through Anderson Marsh State Historic Park, (707) 279-2267, where 10,000 years of Native American history is interpreted and the historic buildings of Anderson Ranch, dating to 1870, are on display. At Lower Lake, take 29 north through Kelseyville, “the Bartlett Pear Capital of The World” and home to several wineries.
Continue to Lakeport and rejoin 20 at Upper Lake. Follow it to US 101, then north to Willits and Ft. Bragg. Plan to take the 1885 Skunk Train, (707) 964-6371, that runs 40 miles through the scenic redwoods between Fort Bragg and Willits. In Willits, the Mendocino County Museum has an outstanding collection of Pomo and Yuki Indian baskets.
Day 6: Ft. Bragg
Before leaving Fort Bragg, founded in 1889 as California’s last coastal mill town, visit its Noyo Harbor, (707) 964-4719, and the 47-acre Coast Botanical Gardens, 18220 N. Highway 1, two miles south of town, (707) 964-4352. The garden features several thousand varieties of native plants collected by Ernest Schoefer, a retired nurseryman who started it. The town of Mendocino, six miles further south, was a lumber port in 1852 and now is a well-known artist colony and on the National Register of Historic Places. It was “Cabot Cove” in the popular television series, “Murder, She Wrote.”
Following 1 north through Westport and Rockport, you will see a section of the state’s rugged, mountainous coastline as the highway twists its way to Leggett on US 101, gateway to the Humboldt redwoods. The original drive-thru-tree park featuring the Chandelier Tree, is one mile south of Highway 1 junction with US 101.
One mile north of town on 101 is the Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area, (707) 925-6482 with over 1,000 acres of second growth coast redwood, fir and hardwood forests. Easily accessible along the Big Tree Loop Trail overlooking the South Fork Eel river is the 1,100-year-old Captain Miles Standish Tree. Continue north to Garberville.
Day 7: Garberville
Picturesque Shelter Cove, on California’s Lost Coast, is 26 miles west on a narrow and winding road. It is a favorite spot for abalone fishing and whale watching in the spring and fall. The Avenue of the Giants, an incredible 31 mile stretch of old highway along 101 begins just north of Garberville at the Phillipsville exit and takes you through eight different groves of fantastic redwoods.
A self-guided auto tour brochure is available at the Avenue’s entrance. The area is part of the 52,000+ acres of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The oldest coastal Redwood tree recorded, 2,200 years old, stands in the Park. The Visitors Center, (707) 946-2263, is just south of Weott. Two miles north of Weott take the beautiful Lost Coast Scenic Loop (Mattole Road, 211) west through Honeydew, and Petrolia, the site of the first oil well drilled in California.
Go north to Ferndale and Eureka. Wildcat Road at Petrolia leads to Cape Mendocino, the western most point of the continental U. S. Ferndale is one of California’s jewels where 19th century buildings and Victorian style houses have been preserved. Main Street is on the National Register of Historical Places and the whole village is a State Historical Landmark.
The rich Eel River delta farmland drew the first Danish and European dairy settlers here in 1852. That industry is still dominant in the area. Ask any shopkeeper for a self-guided walking tour brochure of the town or engage Ferndale Carriage Co. at Main & Washington for a neat ride around the town.
At the Ferndale Museum, Shaw and Third, (707) 786-4466, you can explore the area’s history. Take Main Street north to 101. In doing so, you will cross over the concrete arched Fernbridge spanning the Eel River, that was built in 1913. Continue north to Eureka.