Ask a certain population for the scoop on Humboldt County and you’ll discover its reputation for hosting a rather unique farming community: More than 30,000 people are involved with growing marijuana along the Northern California coastal area.
But there’s another type of vegetation that grows there in abundance: redwood trees — lots of them.
In fact, it was the fern-covered gorges and towering trees that inspired photographer Ben Schedler, to leave his graphic-design job behind and get back behind the camera.
“I studied photography in college, but I didn’t use a camera much in the few years prior to moving out here,” says Schedler. “The north coast of California is staggeringly beautiful and it inspired me to pick up a camera again.”
Good thing it did, because Schedler’s Instagram is the stuff travel dreams are made of.
And when you're ready to make that dream a reality, Schedler’s sharing his advice on how to make it happen. Here are some fine tips to better enjoy your time in California’s “Redwood Country.”
Go there if you love peace and quiet
“What I love most about this place is the lack of crowds,” says Schedler. “You can go many places and find yourself alone.”
To get there from the southern end of California, take the 101 highway until you see the chaparral woodlands start turning into redwoods.
If you’re traveling from the east, Highway 299 follows the Trinity River, while northerners can pick from the stunning southern Oregon coastline along the 101 highway or opt for the pristine Smith River on Highway 199.
Pick up provisions at Adventure’s Edge
Adventure’s Edge is an outdoor goods and full-service bike shop.
“They’ve got backpacking supplies, bikes and boating gear,” says Schedler. “The people working there are friendly and helpful.”
Eat at the Beachcomber Café
Try the Beachcomber Café in the oceanside town of Trinidad.
“They use quality ingredients and put a lot of love into what they do,” says Schedler. “The fresh-baked goods are always delicious.”
Swing by the farmers’ market on the Arcata Plaza to load up on local produce; it’s the place to be on Saturday mornings.
Visit Redwood National Park
“A number of trails start on the 10-mile-long road, all of which are great, but my favorite is the James Irvine Trail,” explains Schedler. “It’s a good trail if you want to take photos, with its aesthetically pleasing stands of huge redwoods, and it ends at a gorge with ferns lining the steep walls.”
For something longer, head to the Lost Coast, where you’ll find a 25-mile trail that winds along the beach and up into the hills of the King Range. “You’ll need to work out a shuttle,” he warns.
Don’t ignore signs of overexploitation of natural resources
“There are huge redwood stumps all over the place that make you wonder what this place must have been like before the shortsighted logging practices of the 20th century,” says Schedler. “Over time, my work has shifted to bring attention to the environment.”
Schedler advises against taking the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to touring the area.
Camp at Patrick’s Point State Park
Definitely camp Patrick’s Point State Park, which offers great views of the coastline and is just a short drive away from the southern portion of Redwood National Park.
Before you leave, go look for agates
Agates are mineral formations made from a type of quartz called chalcedony; you’ll know them from their striped and swirling patterns.
“The rocks appear translucent when held up to the light,” says Schedler. “They can be found on many north coast beaches, but you should have good luck if you search the beaches between Patrick’s Point State Park and Dry Lagoon.”
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