Back before Peggy and I flew east to be with our kids and grandkids to celebrate the holidays, we made a brief trip up the North Coast of California. I’ve already posted three blogs on the trip: one on Mendocino, one on the coast, and one on Roosevelt Elk. Today I will wrap up our journey starting at Stone Lagoon State Park on Highway 101 north of Eureka and working our way up to Highway 199 out of Crescent City.
The North Coast of California is one of my very special places. I’ve returned there again and again. From rugged coastlines, to majestic redwoods, to picturesque towns, and interesting history, the region is both beautiful and magical.
Highway 101 traces its history back to 1769 when the Spanish explorer Juan Gaspar de Portola followed what would eventually become El Camino Real (The King’s Highway) and connected some 21 Catholic missions from San Diego to the Bay Area. North of San Francisco, the road becomes known as the Redwood Highway as it travels through grove after grove of redwoods.
Highway 101 follows a path inland through various river valleys until it reaches Eureka and then it follows the ocean to the border. Occasional views of the Pacific are provided along the way and several county, state and national parks provide opportunities for camping and exploration.
Stone Lagoon, which is part of the largest lagoon system in North America, is one of the views along Highway 101. Separated from the Pacific Ocean by a barrier beach, the waters of the lagoon are neither fresh nor salt. Fed by fresh water for most of the year, winter storms fill the lagoon with water until it breaches the beach barrier, allowing ocean water to flow in and establish a unique environment that supports a great diversity of life. When Peggy and I arrived, Stone Lagoon was the picture of tranquility with calm waters reflecting the surrounding hills and trees.
In Crescent City, Peggy and I picked up Highway 199 and followed the Smith River up and away from the ocean on our way into Southern Oregon.
NEXT BLOG: A somewhat crazy 100 mile backpacking adventure across the Sierra Nevada Mountains with 60 people aged 11 to 70. Part 1
32 thoughts on “Redwoods, the Stone Lagoon, and the Smith River along California’s Highway 101”
Aaaaaah … wait for me, I’ll hurry up and pack!
The beauty goes on and on, Dina. –Curt
Especially like that last shot of the river.
Pretty, eh! Running wild and free…
Awe..this would indeed be a wonderful road trip.
It was. 🙂 And has been time and time again!. Don’t miss it if you get a chance Mel and Suan. –Curt
WARNING! Do Not Eat The Sea Foam! If that stuff tastes anything like it smells, it’s about three years past it’s expiration date. https://allthoughtsworkoutdoors2.wordpress.com/2009/11/07/beards-hollow-at-cape-disappointment-11709/
“Root width rather than depth provides the tree with stability.”
The reverse of which is true for myself. I’m pining yet to see redwoods. Get it? I’m jealous as hell.
I declare you the all time winner when it comes to sea foam! Have you ever been to the Devil’s Churn near Yachats on the Central Oregon Coast? It can whip up a lot of foam during a storm. –Curt
Are you kidding? The nanosecond I heard about that place from a fellow hiker, I started packing….
Great photos. I’ve been there during storms. Awe inspiring! My brother owned an old motel on the coast a few miles away that my dad ran for him. Long time ago. And then my brother sold it, cheap, without giving me an opportunity to buy it. I didn’t have the money but I would have come up with it. Now it is a B&B. –Curt
Oh, man, that would have been awesome. I’m a storm watcher, myself.
Another thought… Never seen the Redwoods? How did you ever let that happen???
(sigh) It’s on the list, okay? The trick is to make lots of rich, new friends to stay with in 2017 so I can avoid that whole hotel chain-nasty sheets debacle. I have stories. (shudder)
I did explore Valley of the Giants a few seasons, so I’m aware trees get at least a little bit bigger than the ones in the backyard.
You are always welcome to stop at out place as a part way location. An hour and a half from where we live takes you to the Redwoods. 🙂 Curt
Only if I can visit the goaties, too.
Your pictures make me want to follow your route. I was there only once, in 1978, so it’s high time to go back.
Thanks, Steve. There is a lot of beautiful country to explore, for sure. And flowers. 🙂 –Curt
Now, this is an area I’ve explored. As a matter of fact, I explored it a little too thoroughly, and ended up on some remarkable Lost Coast roads. I just was looking at the map, and I’m pretty sure I was on the southern portion of Cape Ridge Road, which hooks up with Mattole Road, which I took into Ferndale. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I actually still have some old film snapshots from coming up over a ridge and seeing the Pacific laid out in front of me. What an experience!
Lovely Curt. This area is part of our old stomping grounds. You captured it perfectly.
Thanks Kayti. Mine too. And I have every intention of the continuing to be. 🙂 –Curt
What a memory lane trip for me, Curt! Years ago, with little money, two babies and a husband who was starting a new career, we drove from SF to the Oregon border and stayed right where the Smith River meets the Pacific Ocean. My husband had to finish a programming project and his boss suggested being away from the office for a few days. This short and intense working trip remains one of our fondest memories, mostly due to the raw natural beauty of the area. A few years later we returned with another child and loved the area as much. For full disclosure we even briefly considered moving there. We didn’t. And I’m glad. For places stopped being so extraordinary when they become homes. They are still gorgeous but come with bills and worries. Different.
Most people travel the southern part of Highway 101 but the north remains wilder in my opinion. Or at least in my memory of an early 1990’s trip.
Glad you enjoyed it Evelyn. It is a favorite area of mine and has been since the 60s. 🙂 It is much wilder that the southern portion of the highway. Still! I’ve spent many weeks working on the north coast, myself over the years. There is something about the waves rolling in that allows the mind to relax and focus. Of course it is even better to play there… –Curt
I’m back trying to keep up with you. Read a post dated Jan. 1, 2016 although I suspect it was Jan. 1, 2017. Talked about how you were quite the planner and you’re thinking you may do a 500-mile hike. (Wow!) And you would know this month (Feb 2017) if you were going to Burning Man again. (The link for comments didn’t work, so I’m posting a response here.) I hope all comes true for you — focus on Big Sur, the hike, and Burning Man — for selfish reasons: I love what you write. And, yes, I want that Burning Man book! (Grinning back at you!) Thanks for sharing your west coast world with us Tennesseans. And here’s to making all those 2017 dreams come true.
Think I corrected that 2016 error, Rusha. It’s always good to have lots of plans! Snow may impact how I do my backpacking this summer. But I have my Burning Man ticket and I will backpack, maybe just not at the 12,000 – 13,000 foot elevations! 🙂 We’ll see. Big Sur and much more of the coast, definitely. And thanks for your kind words. –Curt
Wow! You are on the move! We leave for Hilton Head this Sunday — just to face the water and reflect!!!
I’ve never been to Hilton Head but from what I have read, it sounds like a good place for reflection, Rusha.
You can bike, read, eat out, rest. Just what I need right now.
Lovely pictures! We are planning to head this direction for the first time- any “must sees”? 🙂
Thanks. The best advice I could give is to take your time and stop often. Be sure to include Redwoods National Park but its only the beginning. All kinds of beautiful beaches. Mendocino is my favorite town. –Curt