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.
» Boulevard of Big Trees
The Avenue of the Giants is a 31-mile detour from Highway 101 that weaves in and out of lofty, old-growth redwood trees like a slalom course. The route takes you through the heart of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, one of the best places along the North Coast to gaze up in awe. Sunnier and drier than redwood parks farther to the north, it’s less tangled with undergrowth, making it easier to wander and wonder.
» Community Forest
Arcata, with a town square lined with a mixture of hippie-chic boutiques, eclectic restaurants and old-time lumberjack bars, is home to Humboldt State University. Spend some time wandering its community forest and the innovative wastewater treatment facility that has become a thriving sanctuary for migratory birds.
» Big Eats
To satisfy a lumberjack-sized appetite, drive across Humboldt Bay on the Samoa Bridge to the Samoa Cookhouse for colossal, allyou-can-eat meals served family style. The last surviving cookhouse of its kind in the U.S., it’s been serving hungry mill workers, longshoremen and tourists since 1890.
» 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.
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