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  1. #1
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    Redwoods biking vacation advice

    Greetings, My wife,daughter, and I will be visiting some friends in the Vacaville Ca. area sometime next spring/early summer(depending on what I find is the best time to ride the Redwoods) and I was hoping to get some vacation advice to plan a trip to see/ride the Redwoods.
    Doing a search I found someone say to try Gold Bluffs beach and Prairie Creek Redwoods.From what I've read so far,it sounds as though the best stuff to see Redwood wise is up in the northern part of Ca.
    I would be looking for some family friendly trails(for wife and 12yr old daughter) and some fast and flowy stuff for me.Not flying with the bikes so a cool shop to rent would be nice to know as well.Also, where would be a good "base" to look for a home rental (VRBO has been good to us so far) which would keep us within say 2-4 hrs of Vacaville and some good Redwood riding.
    Any and all info. very much appreciated Thanks !

  2. #2
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    Good job!

    Hi,

    Just re-read your post, and have some thoughts, but am also unclear on what you are looking for. I don't think you can be 2 to 4 hours from Vacaville and get to the places you mention.

    The redwoods run in a belt along the coast. There are a few small pockets in Big Sur, larger forests though mostly second growth in the Santa Cruz mountains, and then larger forests as you get north of about Ukiah on 101. I live near Santa Cruz, and have to say that while the redwood forests here are beautiful, the ones up in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties have a wilder, more primeval feeling to them. More huge ones, 6 foot tall ferns, just really amazing. The towns are small, and it is a really isolated part of California. The expression I've heard is "behind the redwood curtain".

    Just looking at google maps, it shows a 6 hour drive from Vacaville to Prairie Creek, going up I-5 to Redding, then across 299 to the coast. I haven't ever been across 299, but have found drive times on google to be "optimistic". I also know that it will be scenic and mountainous as you drive west from Redding, so you might not be cruising at 65 mph. And my first thought was that if I was going up to the redwoods in northern California, I'd be on 101, not I-5. But if doing a several day trip and seeing a big chunk of geography is part of the deal, making a loop, taking 5/299 one way and 101 the other would be interesting and you'd see a lot of forests and farms, take in Mt. Shasta and it would be pretty.

    There's a state forest, not a state park, near Mendocino, called Jackson State Forest. They've been getting some good posts here as to the riding. I believe there is a bike shop in Fort Bragg, although I don't know about rentals. Up in Humboldt, Arcata is a college town, and I think has some bike shops.

    I should also mention that Santa Cruz is within 2 hours of Vacaville, and not a bad area to visit. There's a place in Felton some of my friends have stayed, called Fern River. You can rent little housekeeping cabins. There are some old growth redwoods, a range of rides, and some good local bike shops.

    You might try posting this to the Norcal forum. Most of the regulars are in the Bay area, but still you will probably get more ideas and input.

    Have fun planning!

    P.S.

    Thought of two more places to look at:

    Hendy Woods, near Booneville - not a riding spot, but a small remnant growth of old growth, with little cabins you can rent. Haven't ever stayed there, so don't know the details. I just hiked there once and it looked like it would be a nice place to stop.

    Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I've camped a couple times at a campground, not right on 101, but off Bull Creek Flats Road. Very pretty. Even if you don't camp, the loop of Bull Creek Flats / Mattole Road up to Ferndale and back to 101 is very scenic.
    Last edited by HarryCallahan; 12-15-2011 at 11:53 AM.

  3. #3
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    Former Humboldt/current Santa Cruz County resident here. Everything Mr. Callahan said is pretty much spot on (as usual). I have been to literally every place he mentioned.

    Initial thoughts...Prairie Creek is going to be a haul. If you're down to drive the 4+ hours you will probably see some of the most awesome Redwoods around (be sure to do some hiking at Redwood National Park as well). 101 is the way to go. It's a beautiful drive once you get North of Santa Rosa. 299 is really pretty as well (Trinity Alps!) but you will be going 30-40mph for the majority of the drive.

    If you're looking for the best riding in the Redwoods, my vote would be either Fort Bragg/Mendocino/Jackson State Forest area or Santa Cruz. After doing some riding in the former a month or so ago I would say you definitely need a local guide (everything is unmarked for the most part) and rentals are going to be tough to come by. These are small towns that are just becoming a mtb destination. Santa Cruz probably has the least impressive Redwoods but the best riding in my opinion. Fast and flowy? We got that!

    In summation...

    Giant Freakin Redwoods-Prairie Creek/Redwood National Park

    Biggish Redwoods/Amazing coastline/Good but guide needed riding-Fort Bragg/Mendocino

    Smaller Redwods/Fantastic riding/Rentals/Amazing coastline
    -Santa Cruz

  4. #4
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    ... and if we just ...

    Thanks for taking the time to reply guys and the info.Based on what you guys have told me, and to maximize sites seen/things done,it sounds like we should maybe meet our friends somwhere, instead of going to Vacaville.I guess I need to do alot more map and airport location study.I haven't checked yet as to what airline flies to where from Philly Pa.,so I guess that's why Harry Callahan was unclear on my orig. post. as to what I was looking for.
    I'm looking for an awe inspring Redwood vacation and maybe be lucky enough to ride amongst those huge old trees and maybe get to see our friends in Vacaville to boot.(do i have my priorities correct ? depends on who you ask)
    Thanks again for the tips !

  5. #5
    tjp
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    Humboldt resident here. I recommend doing the loop. 5-299-101. 299 is beautiful, one of my favorite drives, and while you're at it you can stop and ride in Redding or Weaverville which is crazy fun. Humboldt redwoods park has huge trees and some trails. Some really fun trails. You can ride some of them legally. Thornton loop is the main (legal) one. Prairie Creek also has great big trees, and Ossagon loop, though it gets poopood by the locals, drops you from old growth straight onto the beach, often among a herd of Elk. Best grove is Jed Smith in Crescent City, and Little Bald Hills trail is very fun. Starts in the grove. Hit Arcata on a summer Saturday, ride in Redwood Park, hit the farmers market. You won't be sorry. If you come north though, beg, borrow or rent a bike and bring it with you on the trip because good rentals are scarce. Fort Bragg rocks. Mendo coast is a must see as well. I grew up in the Santa Cruz area and am a huge fan on that country as well. For most coastal Norcal riding, a guide (or being chatty enough to make friends on the trail) is key to ensure you don't miss something special. Look at the northcoastbikerides blog. Don't forget the rivers - the Smith and Salmon are super special, but so are the rest. You can spend a lifetime exploring the northwestern part of CA, and I very much admire those that have done that.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 73cuda View Post
    Thanks for taking the time to reply guys and the info.Based on what you guys have told me, and to maximize sites seen/things done,it sounds like we should maybe meet our friends somwhere, instead of going to Vacaville.I guess I need to do alot more map and airport location study.I haven't checked yet as to what airline flies to where from Philly Pa.,so I guess that's why Harry Callahan was unclear on my orig. post. as to what I was looking for.
    I'm looking for an awe inspring Redwood vacation and maybe be lucky enough to ride amongst those huge old trees and maybe get to see our friends in Vacaville to boot.(do i have my priorities correct ? depends on who you ask)
    Thanks again for the tips !

    Glad to help. It sounds like a fun trip.

    You clarified what had puzzled me. I concur with the summary from Carl Hungus, and tjp supplies great detailed info. I'd say if your friends in Vacaville are into it, they join you for some part of the trip. Otherwise, just incorporate a visit with them as part of the trip. Vacaville isn't a great destination in and of itself, but seeing friends is important. If they want to just go somewhere close, maybe they could join you somewhere in Napa or Sonoma or over in Santa Cruz.

    I'd say offhand the airports you want to look at will be Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, and maybe San Jose. Sacramento and Oakland are smaller, but sometimes easier to get in and out of. San Jose is about 70 miles south of SF and also a somewhat more low-key airport than SF.

  7. #7
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    I stayed with my family in a little cabin in Miranda , I think it was Miranda Gardens, which is on the southern end of Humboldt State park. Cool cabins, nice pool, and great breakfast burrito's across the street. Not much else though, other than redwood trees. I wasn't mtn biking that week, but even riding the road (rt 254 - Avenue of the Giants) is an impressive 30 mile or so ride through living and fallen giant redwoods. I'm not sure how close that is to singletrack, but it was a nice location for a few days.

  8. #8
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    so much to see--so little time

    Thinkin of settin up shop in Arcata.Maybe flying into Arcata from San Fran and save 5 hrs driving ?
    Prairie Creek sounds like a must see if we're flying all this way.Googled a couple of bike shops in Arcata,gotta call/email em' and see if they'd rent us some bikes.Humbolt area also looks pretty cool.The drive along 101 looks to have some amazing scenery as well.Who needs to leave the US for things to see ? .Decsions,decisions, decisions !

    Thanks again people !

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 73cuda View Post
    Thinkin of settin up shop in Arcata.Maybe flying into Arcata from San Fran and save 5 hrs driving ?
    Prairie Creek sounds like a must see if we're flying all this way.Googled a couple of bike shops in Arcata,gotta call/email em' and see if they'd rent us some bikes.Humbolt area also looks pretty cool.The drive along 101 looks to have some amazing scenery as well.Who needs to leave the US for things to see ? .Decsions,decisions, decisions !

    Thanks again people !
    Arcata is a great town and a really cool "base camp". I can honestly say that there is not another town in the country quite like Arcata. It's kinda hard to explain but you'll know what I mean after you've spent a few days there.

    Flying into Arcata (McKinleyville actually) is really pricey but if money is no object than it's an option. I would definitely recommend staying in Arcata vs. some place like Orick or Miranda. Beautiful places but not much going on for a visitor.

    If you do stay in Arcata there is riding right out the door in the Community Forest.

  10. #10
    sbd
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    I have lived in redwood country since 88. I would go to Ft. Bragg or Mendocino. A few ez trails, lots of great singletrack, Anderson Valley beer and wine nearby. Vacaville is hideous!

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    Mendo/Fort Bragg

    We don't have the biggest trees but are the closest to Vacaville and have stuff for the whole family to enjoy. Bring your friends and I'll guide you through our redwoods. Count the pluses in this thread. I can make it a trip you won't forget! Bike rentals are available but limited. What size bike do you ride?

  12. #12
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    Samuel P. Taylor State Park near Fairfax(about and hour west of Vacaville) has a paved bike path that wanders through redwoods. Very scenic.

  13. #13
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    This thread caught my eye, I'm thinking of an RV trip up in this very area when school is out for the summer. Is there any reason that between the end of May and the beginning of August would not be a good time for this? Thanks in advance.

  14. #14
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    Mendo/Fort Bragg May thru August

    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpy29er View Post
    This thread caught my eye, I'm thinking of an RV trip up in this very area when school is out for the summer. Is there any reason that between the end of May and the beginning of August would not be a good time for this? Thanks in advance.
    Time frame is good. We never get to hot to ride even in the summer. We have things for all family members to do,ocean beaches,easy haul roads on headlands over the ocean,haul road up Big River or canoeing up said river,stunning. Shopping in Spendocino,Fort Bragg,the Botanical Gardens,etc. Best of all miles and miles of Jackson Demo single track under the redwoods. Put it on the calendar I'll get you to the trails and you will never forget your trip to Mendocino...Nugjug

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by nugjug View Post
    Time frame is good. We never get to hot to ride even in the summer. We have things for all family members to do,ocean beaches,easy haul roads on headlands over the ocean,haul road up Big River or canoeing up said river,stunning. Shopping in Spendocino,Fort Bragg,the Botanical Gardens,etc. Best of all miles and miles of Jackson Demo single track under the redwoods. Put it on the calendar I'll get you to the trails and you will never forget your trip to Mendocino...Nugjug
    Just bounced the idea off my wife and teenage son. They say let's do it. We're in Phoenix, will be renting an RV, probably for 9 days, bring the bikes and hiking shoes, leave work far far behind. We haven't had any vacation in 3 years, we're over due. I'll post up, or start up a new thread when I've done a bit of research and have definite questions to ask. Thanks.

  16. #16
    sbd
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    Just remember it will be cool on the coast that time of year, but its nice and cozy just a few mile inland. Go a few more mile and it will be HOT.

  17. #17
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    My daughter was a student at HSU so I got to drag my bike up there several times when I would visit. I have been many places, and okay yes I had a high fever that last day but riding the Ossagon/Gold Bluffs Loop was one of the very best experiences of my life. Note if you go too early in the spring or summer you may find the Gold Bluffs trail down by the beach a swamp. If you hit it late (rutting season, Sept/Oct) the trail will be dry but possibly blocked by enormous bachelor elk with an attitude. Anyway, that is what happened to us. In that event you go around the animals giving them a wide berth. I recommend do this loop counterclockwise starting at the rest area at the top. While you're down at the beach stow your bikes and take a little side hike to visit Fern Canyon.
    Never give up, never surrender.

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