Head North of Ordinary for a Land of Biking and Bird Watching in Northern California
FLOCK TO NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WITH YOUR BESTIE FOR BIKE TRAILS AND BIRD WATCHING THAT ARE ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY
Not far from the buzz of the San Francico Bay or the Rose City of Portland, you can create an adventure all your own with spectacular bike trails and chirpy birdwatching in Northern California. These happenings are worth sharing, so grab your BFF and start exploring four counties in “North of Ordinary” California.
Visit Lake County to Bike through a 3,000-acre Vineyard, Go Birding at California’s Largest Freshwater Lake and Anderson Marsh
The grape-draped hillsides and rosy ravines of Lake County make for a remarkable ride. And wouldn’t you like to wrap up your bike ride with a wine tasting? Roll through 3,000 acres of private trails at Six Sigma Ranch & Winery. Cruise on soft dirt past rows and rows of grapevines and along century-old oak trees. You may even cross paths with a flock of wild turkeys. Impress your pals with a bit of ranch history: the land was host to county rodeos and airshows in the 1960s. From lush foothills in the distance to moss-covered black oak trees, the trails around Six Sigma Ranch will delight any cyclist. Stop by the tasting room for a $20 day pass before you hit the trails. (Wine Club members ride for free). Come full circle and relax with a glass of wine with your bestie.
Seek refuge in a refuge and leave tail lights behind for tail feathers. Your soul will soar surrounded by thousands of bird species at Clear Lake State Park. Retreat deep into the trails, forests and marshes that surround California’s largest freshwater lake. The diverse landscape attracts birds of all kinds. Spy White Pelicans, osprey and Red-shouldered Hawks with a fine-feathered friend. Meander to Anderson Marsh where Bald Eagles make their breeding nests. A blue heron or egret may gracefully glide through a slough in search of a snack. All you need are binoculars and a birding buddy. (If you have extra time though, the park has plenty of adventure including camping, swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking.)
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Visit Humboldt County for a Seaside Cruise, an Adventure Canopy Walk Above Rare Birds, and Road Cycling Past the Largest Remaining Redwoods in the World
From ancient redwoods to serene shorelines, Humboldt County has plenty of variety for even the most discerning adventurer. Easy riders will love Eureka Waterfront Trail along the Humboldt Bay. Meander with mates along spectacular sand dunes and marshes with mountain vistas. Breathe in the fresh salt air as you pedal six and a half miles of paved path, with the occasional boardwalk. Check out Hammond Trail in McKinleyville for another walking and biking paradise. Share a sandwich with your cycling chum as you gaze over the Mad River. Cycle over a high bluff overlooking the Pacific and then ease on down to Clam Beach.
Roam through ancient glory in Prairie Creek Redwoods National Park. Go big on Ossagon Trail’s 19-mile loop through redwoods, spruce and inspiring ocean views. Fit in a short ride with one of the many single-track options in the Park. For guided mountain bike tours, look to Redwood Adventures to lead you through verdant forests, quiet prairies and coastal beaches. Elk Meadow Cabins, the homebase for Redwood Adventures, sits at the trailhead for three beginner to intermediate MTB trails: Lost Man Creek, Streelow Creek Trail, and Davison Trail. If you prefer to go it alone, rent your bikes and pick up a trail map from their front desk.
Treat your quads and your eyes to an easy but oh-so-memorable ride through The Avenue of the Giants. For the more adventurous, take the Pepperwood exit off Highway 101 for a 32-mile journey through the largest remaining old-growth virgin redwoods in the world. Glide past grove after grove of towering beauty. The bike trail options in Humboldt County do not disappoint.
Redwood forest combines with family fun at the Sequoia Park Zoo. Let the birds come to you in the zoo’s free-flight aviary. Stroll past chatty parrots. Admire the vibrant Scarlet Ibis and the rare Screaming Cavy. Sequoia Park Zoo is the oldest zoo in California and though intimate in size, it packs a punch. Get up close and personal with red pandas and watch the otters play. Go head-to-head with ancient redwood giants on suspended bridges 100 feet in the air through a thick canopy. The Redwood Sky Walk features a pathway of wooden platforms and bridges. Get a bird’s eye view on this ADA-accessible eco-adventure with your canopy companion.
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Visit Mendocino County for Biking Along Coastal Bluffs and Redwood Canyons and Lake Cleone Bird Watching
With unspoiled coastline and ferny forests, Mendocino County has plenty of beauty for you and your partner-in-adventure. Wander through wildflowers on Ukiah’s Valley View Trail. Gain some elevation and perspective through seven miles of mountain slopes for panoramic views of the wild fringes of California. Or cycle through miles of magic on 10 Mile Beach multi-use trail. Begin at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg and cruise past boardwalks, along prairie bluffs and sweeping ocean vista. Breathe in the salt air because spotting a migrating whale or endangered western snowy plover may take your breath away. Share a snack with your pal overlooking Lake Cleone, an enchanting lagoon with a variety of feathered residents. Singletrack and double-track mountain bike trails blanket the Mendocino National Forest and Mendocino Woodlands State Park. If you didn’t think to bring your bike, rent a pair of bikes from Catch A Canoe and Bicycles, too! and ask for a map of their favorite MTB trails.
Lake Cleone is nestled in MacKerricher State Park which runs nine miles along California’s unspoiled coast north of Fort Bragg. Gaze over unspoiled beaches, bluffs, dunes, forests and marshes. More than 200 species of birds flock to the area because of the diverse landscape. Let your spirit wander as you spot the varieties like ducks, woodpeckers and jays. Partner up for better chances to spy a Golden-crowned Kinglet or Purple Finch. Need more fauna? Head over to the beach for seabirds, seals and tidepools. Head south to stroll down a prehistoric Memory Lane at Jug Handle State Natural Reserve near Caspar. Climb five ancient terraces formed by glaciers and tectonic activity. Fall in love with foraging black oystercatchers along the shore. As you climb the Ecological Staircase, watch the sky for while gulls, osprey, and American Kestrels. This dreamy collision of land and sea will have your heart singing like, you guessed it, a songbird.
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Visit Del Norte County for Birding at a National Wildlife Refuge, Cruising the Crescent City Harbor Trail, and Mountain Biking through the Tallest Redwoods
Nature outnumbers people in Del Norte County. Even a bike trail that starts in town feels tranquil and delivers dynamic views. All levels are welcome on the Crescent City Harbor Trail, which is part of the California Coastal Trail (CCT). Gear up for a six-mile cruise beginning at South Beach and let your heart melt into the Pacific. Listen — and look — for seabirds and sea lions. Ask your bike buddy to snap a photo of you with Battery Point Lighthouse in the background. In operation since 1856, its stunning red roof, white façade and lush pink-floral brush may beckon you off course for a lighthouse tour of the inside. The trail finishes at Point St. George past the historic St. George Reef Lighthouse a few miles off the coast. Be sure to pack some binoculars to really revel in the coastline’s delights and surprises, including whales.
Mountain bike along a redwood forested trail or cruise along the rugged California coastline on the Last Chance Trail. From beginner to advanced downhill MTB trails, Del Norte County has trails to test your limits or just a joyride. Bike rentals and shuttles are available if you didn’t think to bring your own.
Paddle with a pal to the absolute menagerie of wildlife. Discover a craggy enclave of 100,0000 seabirds just a half-mile sea kayak voyage from Crescent City’s Pebble Beach. Castle Rock Wildlife Refuge is a 14-acre habitat and the second-largest seabird nesting colony south of Alaska. Gawk at Common Murres and Aleutian cackling geese. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare Tufted Puffin. (Also, try to say Tufted Puffin three times fast.) You will get plenty of glimpses of California sea lions, harbor seals and elephant seals along the rocky shores of the refuge, and sometimes right next to your kayak. If you prefer to keep two feet on the ground, make your way to Lake Tolowa or Lake Earl for some of the top birding areas in Del Norte County. The Klamath River Jet Boat Tours offers an exhilarating ride to see bald eagles and all sorts of sea birds.
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