The Californian Redwood Route
California is the natural escape for travelers looking to combine the perks of city life with compelling nature. From the bay area to mountain tops, there lies a majestic forested area known as the Redwoods. The rugged and rough terrains of Highway 101 North, beyond San Francisco towards the Redwoods, holds some of the tallest and oldest trees known to man. So without further ado, we’ll guide you along the Californian Redwood Route.
- Route name: The Californian Redwood Route
- Distance: 360 KM
- Start and end point: San Francisco to Redwood National and State Parks
- Best by car
- Suggested duration: 2-3 Days
- Best time to visit: All year round. However, Spring and Autumn is the best time to go without the menacing crowd. Winter brings rain and snow in the mountain areas. June- August is when the misty fog rolls through the area.
- Highlights: The City by the Bay, local food scene in San Francisco, nature preserves of Point Reyes, charming towns of Mendocino and Eureka, Humboldt National Park and the Redwood National and State Parks
To find out more about the food scene in San Francisco’s popular districts, download “Eating Well in San Francisco” guide by Christina Mueller for € 4.99. With offline maps, restaurant recommendations, hotspots, attractions, accommodations and practical tips.
The Californian Redwood Route
SAN FRANCISCO – POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE (58 KM)
San Francisco hardly needs any introduction. You’ve seen the city in movies, posters, and it is the quintessential hallmark on the west coast of the United States. Marked by the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay City welcomes all through her gates. It does not matter what type of trip you seek; San Francisco has it all. Browse the high-end stores at Union Square, or walk the harrowing Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day. Take a picture-perfect photo at the Golden Gate Park with the backdrop of the bridge, or grab some bread-bowl chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf. For a culinary excursion, you will never go hungry, as San Francisco is home to 54 Michelin Star restaurants and cheap eats. Visit Waxman’s restaurant featuring seasonal ingredients on the menu in North Beach, or Bisou Bistronomy in the Castro for some French-inspired goodness meets All-American dishes, or some traditional south Indian dishes at Dosa. There’s always something for everyone. It’s difficult to leave a city that has so many facets, but your next leg of the journey is just the beginning.
POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE - MENDOCINO (223KM)
The first waypoint will lead you to Point Reyes National Seashore, a nature preserve that boasts stunning landscape and a sanctuary for wildlife. Become enamored by the peninsula, which protrudes out from the mainland, forming a fascinating terrain full of isolated beaches, coastal Douglas-fir forest, and plunging cliff faces. Aside from the natural beauty of this park, the educational aspect is well worth a visit. Stop by the Bear Valley Nature Center for informational displays to learn more about the nature preserve and say ‘hi’ to the local rangers. No visit to Point Reyes is complete until you embark on the Bear Valley Trail – an easy-going trail that is best for a family stroll. In the fall, you can view elks at Tomales Point – if you’re quiet enough.
MENDOCINO – HUMBOLDT NATIONAL PARK (144 KM)
Mendocino is a small, remote town that embodies the quintessential coastal living. It is an artist haven, attracting various sculptures, painters, ceramist, and metal shop technicians to take up residency in this Californian town. The town's flourishing art scene is evident from the various art galleries that line the main street. And it's no wonder! The Mendocino is nestled between a thick forest and has full access to the rugged sea. The surrounding scenery gives daily inspiration and seclusion from the bustling world. Take the time to visit the art galleries and shops, selling local artwork from the residents. Continue along the North coast, making stops at turnouts for photo opportunities, until your next destination Humboldt National Park.
HUMBOLDT NATIONAL PARK – EUREKA (90 KM)
Northern California is famous for coastal Redwoods, towering trees similar to the giant sequoias found in central California, which range from 800—1.500-year-old. You’ll notice these giants densely line the route of Highway 101, which is known as the Avenue of Giants. Soon, you’ll arrive at Humboldt National Park, famed for its 4th tallest living redwood, the Stratosphere Giant. This is the best time to stop for a hike at Bull Creek Loop, which meanders through the towering trees until Founders Grove or walk through the Rockefeller Forest to witness some of the world’s tallest trees. On a foggy day, you can catch the fog misting through the forest, giving an eerie but fascinating atmosphere.
EUREKA – REDWOOD NATIONAL & STATE PARKS (62 KM
Leaving the lush beauty of the forest behind, you’ll switch gears as you enter Eureka, one of the largest coastal cities in this part of the route. The Old Town district beams with well-preserved Victorian houses and was once a bustling industrial town as it is a port. The main road is lined with art galleries, boutique shops, bookstores, cafes and restaurants welcoming travelers with open arms. Stop by the Sequoia Park Zoo for a family fun day, or visit the lavish Carson Mansion to absorb the architectural wonders of the era, or visit the many museums that elaborate on the rich history of the city.
REDWOOD NATIONAL & STATE PARKS
After leaving Eureka, you’ll once again enter the rough and rugged terrains that you’re now accustomed to in the first part of your trip. The last part of the route consists of visiting the most recognizable area of Northern California, Redwood National & State Parks. It is a network of national and state parks to preserves some of the world’ tallest and oldest trees, and is importantly a World Heritage Site. As you step out of your car to experience this whimsical departure from reality, you'll be mesmerized by the numerous Coastal Redwoods exceeding 100 meters tall. Take a stroll on the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, a short and low-level trail that leads you through loop full through wonderful flora, shrubs, and towering sequoia. Or return to the waterfront for a coastal trail along the rugged cliffs and remote beaches with tide pools.
Suggested reading for USA:
- Western Road Trips - USA & Canada
- The California Pacific Coast Route
- The Road to Hana in Maui
- Pacific Highway Route in Oregon
- Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Route
- The Canadian Rocky Mountains Route