Attractions in the North of California

Hiking in California | Pictures of these hikes
California Guidebook | National Parks | California State Parks

Attractions of North California

  • Eureka (Carson Mansion, Victorian homes)
  • Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation (California's largest reservation)
  • Ferndale ("prettiest painted place in America")
  • Arcata,
  • Fortuna
  • Cape Mendocino (westermost point in California)
  • Avenue of the Giants (tallest trees in the world)
  • Lost Coast (unspoilt coast with Shelter Cove, King Range, etc)
  • Mendocino
  • Mount Shasta
  • Shasta Lake (largest commercial houseboat fleet in the world)
  • Redding: Turtle Bay Exploration Park and +Sundial Bridge
  • Lava Beds
  • Lassen Volcanic Park
  • Redwoods National Park (see right column)
  • Kinetic Sculpture Race (see right column)

Weather forecast
Recommended hiking in North California:
  1. The main gate to the Lost Coast is Shelter Cove, a little town about 40 minutes west of Garberville (four hours north of San Francisco on 101). There are several small campgrounds before Shelter Cove, and it is also possible to camp on the beach. One can hike all the way to Petralia along the coast, but usually a few kms are enough to get a feeling. Behind the Lost Coast is King Range, a foresty series of hills that drop dramatically into the sea. A rewarding hike that mixes both Lost Coast and King Range is a loop from Saddle Mountain to King Peak (8 kms) down the Rattlesnake Trail to the beach (10 kms), i.e. Big Flat, south 6kms long the coast to Buck Creek trail, up to Saddle Mountain (6kms), for a total of 30 kms. The uphill part is strenuous (whichever way you do the loop). There is water at the bottom of the Rattlesnake Trail. The trail on the coast is impassable during high tide. Kings Peak is the highest point along the coast north of Big Sur. Check the weather and the tide forecasts. This can be a truly miserable hike if you pick the wrong time of the year. And make sure you like to walk on sand for hours and hours if you plan the whole Lost Coast hike...

    Lost Coast rangers
  2. Redwood National Park and neighboring Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (Most of these trails are described on their website)
    • Klamath Section of the Coast trail (wildlife, rivers, ocean views, whale watching) from Klamath River Overlook off Requa Rd to Wilson Creek off highway 101 via Hidden Beach (13kms each way)
    • Rhododendron Trail from Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    • Prairie Creek Trail from Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    • Lost Man Creek Trail from Lost Man Creek Picnic Area also in Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (3km, very easy and one of the best for tall redwoods)
    • Tall Trees Trail from Dolason Trail off Bald Hills Road, the trail that leads to the tallest trees
    • Tall Trees Trail from Tall Trees Rd (much shorter than from Dolason but requires a permit, 4kms each way)
    • Lady Bird Johnson Trail, most visited trail in Redwood NP (very short but one of the best for tall redwoods)
    • Redwoood Creek Trail (26kms one way)
    • From Prairie Creek Redwoods Park's headquarters, hike the Prairie Creek Trail to Zigzag 2 to West Ridge Trail to the Coast Trail, then south to Fern Canyon (where you then up the canyon to the stairs (the stairs are easy to miss), then up the stairs to the James Irvine trail that loops back to headquarters
    • Camping in Redwood National Park: free camping at Redwood Creek (get a permit from park headquarters, then drive up Bald Hills Rd, turn right after the overlook into the gated dirt road (the combination to open the lock is in the permit), drive to the end of the road, park, hike down, turn left at the first junction and then go straight down to the Redwood Creek, camp on the tiny sandy section of the river bar (a steep 2km hike)
    • Camping on the beach: go to Patricks Point Park and get a permit to camp on the beach north of the park
This is one of the most underrated parks in California. Plenty of wildlife.
Howdy's description of the Kinetic Sculpture Race: There are several good opportunities to choose from as a spectator of the race, and then long stretches where it is harder to be a spectator. The best places are where the sculptures bunch up at challenging obstacles. The start of the race has the most festival atmosphere with a lot of people and machines crowding the Arcata plaza before the noon whistle start on Saturday. Shortly after, the main action is on the beach between Manila and Samoa where we have to go through sand dunes and the "dead man's drop" down a slope of sand.

On Sunday the main interest is the water entry (splash, sink or float?) and you can see a lot of the sculptures well from the water front along the harbor. The rest of Sunday is spread out along the road. That night we camp on the beach at the mouth of the Eel river.

Monday we cross the Eel and there is some new mud hazard that they are adding this year on the other side on the outskirts of Ferndale. Then there is the finish line in Ferndale. Sometimes they try to group vehicles together but they can still be fairly spread out. I'd probably advocate seeing the start and maybe some of the sand, then going somewhere interesting to camp Saturday afternoon (unfortunately we won't be camping that night, but staying in a hotel in Eureka), then probably Sunday is the best day for a long day hike for you. You can probably come join us at the beach camp on Sunday, if you like, and then the mud and some of the finish could be fun to watch on Monday.

The first sculptures to finish usually cross the line in the early afternoon 1-2 (the finish in Ferndale is held up until after a more traditional Memorial Day parade there in the morning). Most sculptures are done by 3pm at the latest. Although we've been known to finish later once or twice, it's pretty clear that they want to wrap things up as early as possible. The most interesting part on Monday will probably be the mud which will mostly happen about 11-12? You could easily split by early to mid afternoon if you need to. Conservatively, the drive back is probably about 5-6 hours to Redwood city, but you can probably do it faster. Since you are coming up on Saturday, Camping and hiking in the Lost Coast area would probably make sense, as it breaks up the driving and is a nice place to hike. Usal Beach has a modestly developed campground (numbered sites and pit toilets) at the end of a 10km dirt road (low 2wd ok). I don't know if it would be crowded on a holiday weekend, probably depends on weather. I don't know any camping suggestions for other points along the Lost Coast, but I'm sure you can figure something out. If you start further North, and end up at the Mattole river area, you can follow a seldom traveled stretch of road along the coast and wind up and over some hills and come out at Ferndale. This is probably not faster than going back to the highway, but if you are driving in daylight, it is a fun and interesting drive.