More than just tall trees

                                                                                                                           – written by Sarah

Place

Redwood National Forest / Arcata, CA

Date

June 30 to July 1

Logistics

We departed Sonoma Sunday morning and arrived in Arcata around 4 pm after a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. We did a quick hike in Redwood National Park (about 30 miles north of Arcata) that evening and then had dinner at a small restaurant in Trinidad Beach. We left Arcata Monday morning around 10am to drive to Crater Lake in Oregon.

Costs

We stayed in a unit of an old Victorian mansion we found on airbnb.com a few blocks from the downtown square of Arcata for $168/night. We spent approximately $80 on dinner that night at a great spot in Trinidad Beach (we got appetizers, drinks and a meal to split). Monday morning we got breakfast at a vegetarian café for about $15.

Summary

After a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from Sonoma to Arcata, we arrived at our destination around 4pm that afternoon. After dropping our luggage in the unit we were staying in (a beautiful and modernly and tastefully decorated unit in an old Victorian mansion called the Devlin House), we drove about 45 minutes north to Redwood National Forest for an evening hike at the Lady Bird Johnson trail. The trail head is well-marked and only a short drive into the park. At the beginning of the trail we picked up a self-guided walking hike pamphlet that corresponded to markers throughout the hike (which was only about a mile). Tim played tour guide and read the descriptions to each marker along the way. It was a great introduction the park and we learned about how old the forest was, how big the trees can grow (about 320 feet tall and 20 feet around) and that these trees are the tallest living things on earth (whoa!). We had a great time frolicking through the trail- stopping to take lots of pictures, including the cheesy ones where we spread our arms out to show JUST HOW BIG these trees are. The tour pointed out how fires can hollow out large old redwood trees but they survive because the outer, harder shell of the tree can still carry nutrients from the roots to the tree. Other parts of the tour explained how death can spawn life in the forest – trees that die and crash to the forest floor become home to ferns, insects and even new Redwood trees. Several times we saw dead trees with smaller, younger trees growing out of them. We took about an hour to complete the hike- pausing often for pictures and to just look around. It was beautiful – and we were particularly lucky to enjoy the sunset along our hike as well!

During the drive back towards Arcata, we decided to stop for dinner at a place that had great reviews online from locals in Trinidad Beach called Larrupin Cafe. The restaurant is about 5 minutes from the main highway, and tucked away in a secluded area- we would have never discovered that this place existed had we not researched online, and we were so glad we did. The restaurant is part of an old home and has a great outdoor patio. That night they even had a live Jazz band performing- pretty awesome atmosphere overall! Our meal was divine- we got seared tuna for an appetizer and Cajun snapper for our meal. Another unique feature of this restaurant is that they don’t serve bread before the meal- instead, they serve a delicious plate of cheeses, meats and fruit. We then headed back to Arcata, where we headed in for the night.

The next morning, we left around 9am to head back to the forest. We first got breakfast at a small vegetarian café on our way to the highway. We split a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich and a quinoa “chorizo” breakfast burrito. Once at the forest, we took the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through to the Big Tree trailhead, where we got to see the largest tree in the park and do another quick hike before getting on the road for Crater Lake. Seeing these trees made it apparent to us that we also need to eventually make our way to Sequoia National Park in the future- while we saw the tallest trees at this park, the Sequoias are the largest in width, and we are stoked to add that park to our future vacations list!

Overall, Arcata was a good place to stay within a 40 minute drive to the park. If you aren’t able to camp closer to the park, and don’t want to spend a lot of money (as places to stay in Trinidad Beach are more expensive), the place we stayed is a great option. Arcata itself is a small college community, with purportedly lively art scene and a small downtown square. We didn’t make it out to the square at all, but we did learn of some breweries in the area and bars that many of the students go to. Otherwise, the town has a sleepy feeling to it. From what we saw, I wouldn’t consider it a destination in and of itself, but it is a great place to stay if you want relatively easy and affordable access to Trinidad Beach and the Redwood National Forest.

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