Hwy. 101 North- San Francisco to the Oregon Border
Coast Redwood- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
This is a companion piece to Hwy. 1 North. The two roads both end up in the same place, meeting at the village of Leggett north of Ft. Bragg. Highway 101 is faster going and has its own unique attractions. Take both before you die.
For the traveler who strictly adheres to the highway regimen, you would miss a spot that needs to be visited, if not now then later; Point Reyes National Seashore. We've included it in our itinerary, even though it more properly belongs to Highway 1. So we've included it there too. Not to be missed.
From San Francisco until you reach Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Hwy. 101 is an inland trip with access to attractions like Clear Lake, Lake Mendocino, Lake Pillsbury and small villages like Cloverdale, home of the annual Citrus Festival. There are spots along the way to detour to the coast and destinations like Bodega Bay, Jenner and Sea Ranch. Then the focus changes. As the itinerary will disclose, after Humboldt Redwoods many of the state parks along the route were established to protect and preserve the majestic coast redwood trees. In the "old" days, and to a large extent today as well, logging was a big business and these trees were prized both for their inherent beauty and utility as lumber, but also or their size. But California's citizenry tend to be protective of our wild things. So we have many state facilities where you can gaze at, and hike around, redwood trees, many of heroic proportions.
Even locals tend to refer to tall trees with red bark as redwoods. But there are two different versions. The ones you will see along Hwy. 101 are true coast redwoods (sequoia sempervirens). They can grow to almost 400 feet tall, can be as old as 2,000 years and can reach 22 feet in diameter with bark that is 12 inches thick. The giant sequoia (sequoia dendron giganteum), found and protected mainly in Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks, grow wider but less tall. They can reach a height of just over 300 feet, can be up to 3,200 years old with a diameter up to 40 feet with bark up to 31 inches thick.
With the merger with Hwy. 1 at Leggett this becomes a coastal, rather than inland, odyssey. A nice change of pace.
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