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REDWOOD SCENIC PARKWAY
North Humboldt County:
Prairie Creek Redwoods State park map
Newton B Drury Pkwy - Drive through a tunnel of trees -- stop and wander among the giants.
Time: 1 hour round trip
Begin: Hwy 101, six miles north of Orick
Route from the south: Exit Hwy 101 onto the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway ,the scenic alternative to Hwy 101. This ten-mile (16-km) drive through old-growth redwood forest in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Turn around at the end of Parkway or return by continuing on to Hwy 101 and head south.
The Payoff: Along the way, look for access to numerous trailheads such as Big Tree and Ah Pah. Be sure to keep an eye out for the wild elk herds that roam the park. Take a side trip on Cal Barrel Road, and stop at the Elk Prairie visitor center, hub of numerous trails. No commercial vehicles permitted.
BALD HILLS ROAD
North Humboldt County: Redwoods National & State Park map
This drive continues past Lady Bird Johnson Grove for forest and mountain vistas above the Redwood Creek watershed
Time: 2 hours round trip
Begin: Hwy 101 North of Orick
Route: Bald Hills Rd. to Schoolhouse Peak and return to start.
Leave Hwy 101, turn east onto Bald Hills Rd. and climb up into the hills forming the watershed of Redwood Creek. Stop to stretch your legs at Lady Bird Johnson Grove, then continue on to Schoolhouse Peak, a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch before turning around.
The Payoff: Rolling green hills covered with wildflowers. On foggy days, drive here to find the sunshine and look down upon a sea of mist.
The Twist: You'll pass the trailhead to the Tall Trees Grove where the world's tallest trees are found.
Note: Bald Hills Road is paved for the first 14 miles only, (remainder of road to Weitchpec is dirt & gravel - not recommended for RV's or trailers).
North-County Coastal map
Time: 2 hours round trip
Route: From Hwy 101, drive approx. 2 miles north of Orick to Davison Road and turn left. Follow through Elk Meadow and off of the paved road. Follow this spectacular scenic drive for 6 miles until you reach Gold Bluffs Beach (motorhomes and trailers are not allowed on this road). Once at the coast, follow the road along the beach for another 3 miles (fording through several small streams) until the parking lot at the end. A day-use fee of $8.00 is required.
The Payoff: Leads to the trailhead to Fern Canyon - about 1/4 mile from the actual start of the canyon. Drive from the coastal forest to the ocean with a good chance of spotting wild Roosevelt elk.
The Twist: Fern Canyon is one of the sites filmed in the movie Jurassic Park II: The Lost World.
TRINITY RIVER NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY
Mid-County - Willow Creek maps
Time: 4 hours round trip
Begin: Arcata - Hwy 299
Route: Follow through farm and timberlands as the road gains altitude. In about one hour you'll reach the town of Willow Creek. Turn north on Hwy 96, following the Trinity River through the Hoopa Valley to the town of Weitchpec, or further on the Klamath River to Orleans. Retrace your steps to Arcata.
The Payoff: Spectacular mountain and river scenery. Stop at the Lord Ellis or Berry summit vista points for panoramic views. Fall Colors September through November.
The Twist: The route takes you on parts of two officially designated Scenic Byways, the Trinity and the Bigfoot.
LOST COAST LOOP
Mid-County Coastal map
Time: 4 hours round trip
Route: From Ferndale, take the Mattole Road (the "Wildcat") south toward Petrolia. The road touches the ocean at Cape Mendocino, following the shore for six miles. Continue on through Honeydew, out of the Mattole River Valley and into Humboldt Redwoods State park. When you reach Hwy 101, turn north to return.
The Payoff: Incredible ocean vistas, sweeping grasslands, tiny rural towns and coastal forest in this extremely isolated section of California coastline.
The Twist: You're driving through some of the most seismically active country in the state, and the site of the state's first oil wells.
AVENUE OF THE GIANTS - DRIVE THRU TREE
South Humboldt County
Humboldt Redwoods State park
Begin: Heading south, exit Hwy 101 south of the town of Scotia, look for signs to Avenue of Giants, town of Pepperwood. Heading north, look for Avenue of the Giants exit just north of Garberville at the town of Phillipsville.
Surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which has the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world, this 31-mile portion of old Hwy 101 runs parallel to Hwy 101 and is accessible by most vehicles.
Along the Avenue are a number of sleepy small towns including Pepperwood, Redcrest, Weott, Myers Flat (Shrine Drive-Thru Tree), Miranda and Phillipsville. Stop to browse in gift shops for your redwood Riverbend Cellars in Myers Flat memorabilia or pick up picnic supplies. There are several cafes and restaurants along the route as well. Stop in at the Riverwood Inn, last of the old roadhouses, for food and drink.
As the main artery into the heart of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the Avenue of the Giants provides access to numerous hiking trails and memorial groves. Look for the posted trail heads and access roads. There are also a number of spots from which you can access the Eel River for fishing, swimming and other water fun.
Link to NY Times article Land of the Giants