About Mendocino and Humboldt Coast
Easily joined from Between San Francisco and Crescent City, this part of Northern California features two of the things California does best: rugged coastline and enormous trees. There are highlights along this stretch of coastline to provide a handsome selection of both. Like Between San Francisco and Crescent City, visit during summer, when the areas heavy rainfall gives way – hopefully-to clear, sunny skies.
If you’re coming from the south, for easy access to the best places to visit choose Mendocino or Fort Bragg to sleep. Though these neighbouring coastal towns both merit a visit, they are markedly different. For its looks, Mendocino is unquestionably the more appealing, although its 19thC wooden architecture attracts off-putting numbers of tourists. Fort Bragg, by contrast, is a hard-working lumber town with less charm – but also far lower prices – than Mendocino. If money’s tight, we suggest you explore Mendocino by day and spend the evening in Fort Bragg.
Continuing north, the near-impenetrable mountains of the Lost Coast cause Hwy-1 to swing inland to join Hwy-101 and in doing so briefly combine with Between San Francisco and Crescent City. A road does cross the Lost Coast, though.
Beyond Eureka – a town of limited appeal – the highway concentrates on the Redwood National Park, which is in fact a collection of state parks spread across 100,000 acres of California’s extreme north-west. If you’ve already visited the sky- scraping trees at Humboldt Redwoods State Park (see The Northern Coast), you may not see the point in viewing still more. You need to travel this far north, however, to find the densest redwood groves and to see the treetops moodily shrouded in coastal fog. From the highway, many foot trails weave through the redwood groves, often emerging on to seldom-visited pockets of beach.
After the redwoods all you can do (other than continuing into Oregon) is to head back the way you came. One option, if you choose to go back, is to veer inland from Arcata along Hwy-299 to link with Northern California Trinity Lake and/or Between Sacramento and Yreka, highly recommended.
One Greyhound bus runs in either direction traverse Hwy-101 between San Francisco and Eureka (www.greyhound.com). AMTRAK do not operate a train service to Eureka. Most of the Redwood National Park is extremely difficult to reach without private transportation.