Travel Guide to California - - NORTH COAST -

» 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.

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» 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.

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» 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.

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» 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.

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» 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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