Arcata to South Cow Mountain

We continued down the coast to the town of Arcata after leaving the Redwoods National and State Parks. Arcata is home to Humbolt State University and very much has the look and feel of a small college town, albeit sitting on the Pacific coast. The weather favored us with a couple more delightful beach days of which we took full advantage.

From Arcata we stopped in Eureka to visit Bandit Savory and Sweet for coffee and tea before setting out for the town of Ferndale. Ferndale is a picturesque town with a quaint main street and beautiful Victorian homes. The town has been used in many television shows and movies. Lots of boutique stores for those so inclined.

After a walk through town we decided to tackle the “Wildcat”. The “Wildcat” is a narrow, twisty, sometimes paved road that starts in Ferndale and winds up and over the northern King Mountain Range and then drops down to the ocean at Cape Mendocino.  This area is the only coastal wilderness in all of California. There are no major roads and literally no development. Many automobile commercials are filmed on this road in order to take advantage of the spectacular scenery.

We followed the road to Mattole Beach where we were able to camp on the beach. It is incredibly beautiful but completely primitive – no facilities. The combination of the sound of the surf and the night sky is mesmerizing! 

From the beach we followed Mattole Road to Humbolt Redwoods State Park. We were awed by our experience at Redwoods National and State Park. The Redwood Sequoias at Humbolt are even more impressive than what we had seen previously. The trees in Humbolt are protected from the wind by the King Mountain Range and receive far more sun than the coastal redwoods further north. As a result they are even taller than the coastal trees. If you only have time to visit one park we recommend Humbolt.

This area is all part of Humbolt County. While the area is wild and scenic it is economically depressed. We observed many “travelers” in the small towns. There is an edginess with so many travelers about in such small towns (many are transient pickers).

Humbolt County has been home to a significant number of small marijuana farmers since the 1970s. As this industry was vital to the local economy the police in the county did not generally enforce laws regarding the growing and selling of marijuana.

The legalization of marijuana has changed all of  that dramatically.  Officials are now obligated to regulate the industry. The long time illegal growers that operated on a completely cash basis must now get licensed, follow environmental regulations, pay taxes and put their transient pickers on the payroll.

While a number of farmers have quit the business we still saw many marijuana operations as we drove through the remote Lost Coast area.

We highly recommend touring the Lost Coast. It is some of the most beautiful and undeveloped coastline that remains anywhere in the states.

Off to Sacramento……be seeing you!


North Town Coffee, Bandit Savory & Sweet, Black Oak Coffee Roasters



Snowy Plovers



Clam Beach, Arcata, CA





Ferndale, CA



The Wildcat, Ferndale to Mattole



Mattole Beach, King Range Conservation Area



Humbolt Redwoods SP




Clear Lake Viewed from South Cow Mountain


6 thoughts on “Arcata to South Cow Mountain

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