MUST SEE, DO
» Forest Tracks
Built in 1885 to haul redwood logs from the tangled backcountry to coastal sawmills, the iconic Skunk Train now carries passengers on two different runs starting at Fort Bragg and the inland town of Willits, respectively. The shorter coastal route snakes along the Novo River canyon, through redwood groves and past an old logging camp. And don’t worry: The train’s name derives from an original, stinky gasoline engine that long ago was consigned to the junkyard.
» Drive-thru Tree
It’s an urge that belongs to another era—and certainly wouldn’t gladden the hearts of Muir or Thoreau—but there are still a few places along the North Coast where you can drive your car through a tunneled-out redwood tree. The most convenient is Drive-thru Tree Park, near the town of Leggett, just off Highway 101. But be warned: The opening in the so-called Chandelier Tree is just 6 feet wide and 6 feet, 9 inches tall. Not all supersized SUVS can squeeze through.
» On the Waterfront
Eureka has transformed its waterfront Old Town from a skid row into a lively and inviting district of Victorian storefronts housing restaurants, galleries, shops and museums, crowned by the iconic Carson Mansion, a masterpiece of Victorian opulence.
» Ferry Tales
Tour Humboldt Bay aboard the Maraket, the last of a fleet of tiny ferries that once carried mill workers to their jobs. It’s the oldest vessel in continuous service in the country, with the tiniest licensed bar in California.
» Victorian Hamlet
Gaily painted Victorian mansions line the streets of Ferndale, an idyllic hamlet on the Eel River delta in southern Humboldt County. Lovingly preserved, they give the town a turn-of-the-last-century look that has proven irresistible to Hollywood. More than a dozen movies have been filmed here. Main Street’s shops keep the Victorian theme going, with old-fashioned mercantiles and even a blacksmith shop. Cradled between two redwood forests, the entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.