On Hwy-101, 7 miles North of Eureka. Due to the students of Humboldt University, usually to be found patronizing the funky cafes and diners around the central plaza, diminutive Arcata has a zest that is rare along the north coast. Arcata might also be California’s most ecologically-concerned town, with markers to its commitment to raising environmental consciousness easily found. As well as a large picnic area, the Arcata Community Forest has the Historic Logging Trail, which makes plain the detrimental impact of the lumber industry on California’s woodlands. On Arcata Bay, a 75-acre waste dump has been transformed using treated sewerage into the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, an animal and bird refuge viewable on several foot- and cycle-routes. Check the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Centre +1 (707) 826-2359
Less uniquely, Arcata was founded as a mining supply center during the gold rush and a sprinkling of its Victorian houses remains intact. Another remnant from these times is the three-story Jacoby’s House, a historical landmark of the state of California. It houses cafes, shops, restaurants, offices and a bank nowadays.
Detour – Hoopa Valley Native American Reservation
Sixty miles inland from Arcata, via highways 299 and 96, the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation makes a worthwhile detour for the culturally curious. Be warned, though, that Native American reservations are rarely happy places, typified by poor housing and problems of alcoholism and unemployment. This one is no exception, although the collections of the Hoopa Tribal Museum (inside the Hoopa Shopping Center) go some way to justifying the journey. Sadly, perhaps, most white people come here solely to play high-stakes bingo – legal only on Native American reservations.