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San Juan Bautista, California

North Coast & the Giant Redwoods

Explore a land of gentle giants and graceful dunes

The California Redwoods have been photographed innumerable times by nature buffs. But you have to visit this land of giants in person to fully appreciate these arboreal skyscrapers. Put these magnificent forests on your bucket list and hit the road for one of North America’s most dazzling natural spectacles.

Avenue of the Giants

Southern Humboldt serves as the gateway to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California’s largest redwood state park. This awe-inspiring place is the state’s third-largest state park and is home to the largest old-growth contiguous redwood forest in the world.

Miles of trails and scenic highway beckon guests to explore the stands of virgin redwood and experience the quiet beauty of this region. The park spans more than 53,000 acres and includes the 32-mile Avenue of the Giants. This scenic stretch, which runs parallel to Highway 101, features trees that soar higher than 200 feet into the air and sport girths surpassing 15 feet in width.

One of its prized arboreal residents is the Immortal Tree. More than 950 years old and standing roughly 250 feet tall, the Immortal Tree is situated at the north end of the Avenue and has survived floods, logging attempts and lightning strikes.

At the southern end of the Avenue is the privately run Drive-Thru Tree Park. This is the home of the Chandelier Tree, a 16-foot-wide marvel that serves as the main attraction. The tree’s base was cut through in the 1930s to allow cars to pass through, and inside the park, visitors can stop for a picnic, take a leisurely hike or enjoy the majestic surroundings from a park bench.

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Humboldt County Vistors Bureau

Walk Among the Trees

The forests that dot this portion of Northern California’s coastline are ideal for outdoor excursions by foot or by car. Founder’s Grove Nature Loop Trail in Humboldt Redwoods State Park is an ADA-accessible, self-guided nature trail with the Founder’s Tree and the Dyerville Giant as its main attractions. Once the tallest tree in the world, the Dyerville Giant fell more than 20 years ago. Other accessible trails in the park are Gould Grove Nature Trail, which provides access to the river, and Drury-Chaney Loop Trail, which features a lush understory to complement the old-growth redwoods.

Logging Industry Legacy

Logging’s heyday in Northern California meant plentiful jobs and a rapidly rising need for homes and businesses to support loggers and their families. The town of Scotia is a true “company town,” having been founded by logging industry giant Pacific Lumber Company in the 1880s. The Town of Scotia Company now runs the city, while its sawmill is operated by Humboldt Redwood Company.

Scotia has preserved its legacy for residents and visitors to explore at the Scotia Museum. Built in the Greek revival style out of local redwood, the museum once served as a bank. The grounds are home to a steam engine that was once operated by the Pacific Lumber Company, and exhibits tell the story of logging’s influence on the region through photos and other period artifacts.

Sun, Sand and Sea

Several dune systems run along the Pacific coastline of this region, including Ma-le’l Dunes near the town of Arcata. The most pristine dunes system in the west, this is where sand, forest and wetlands converge, making this the perfect setting for a midmorning stroll.

Samoa Dunes Recreation Area is a 300-acre park just outside the town of Eureka, offering a mix of activities including beachcombing, fishing, wildlife viewing and boating. The bay and ocean beaches are accessible from here.

The nation’s oldest passenger ferry still makes trips across Humboldt Bay, and you can board the Madaket for a bay cruise during the spring and summer. Learn the history of Humboldt Bay and the Eureka waterfront as you cruise. Wildlife spotting and points of interest are part of the fun on this 75-minute excursion. The cruise operates as an extension of the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, which tells the story of the area’s seafaring past.

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Humboldt County Vistors Bureau

Toast the Redwoods

The sun, soil and rainfall of this region of California aren’t just good for growing tall trees. Wineries have found a way to thrive here, and three of them offer tastings at a garden gallery in Redway, a tiny community south of Humboldt Redwoods State Park along Highway 101. The gallery displays creations from local artists and also serves up beer from area breweries. Complement a bottle of vintage or a growler of ale with locally made organic cheeses, locally sourced honey and other treats from the surrounding countryside.

For More Information

Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau

800-346-3482

www.redwoods.info

 

California Travel and Tourism Commission

877-225-4367

www.visitcalifornia.com