I love fun travels to cool places that most people don’t know about or visit. Here’s my wish list:
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST:
LAKE COUNTY, CA: Little known, and seldom traveled by the masses, this area has a few treasures and an hour from the wine country.
- Kayaking/Canoeing on Clear Lake –
- Hiking Mt. Konocti – Free ~7 mi RT – If you close your eyes and picture the European Swiss Alps where the contrast of magnificent mountains towering above perfectly flat and serene lakes, this is the California Equivalent. This is that mountain, and clear lake is that lake.
- Mount St. Helena – (near Napa/Sonoma/Lake Counties). Located (no dogs unfortunately)
- Wine Tasting – Super close to Alexander Valley, Calistoga CA, & Napa Valley. I love the town of Healdsburg (wineries, great food, & Bear Valley Brewing).
- Where to stay:
- The Featherbed Railroad – $$$- As it sounds, you immerse yourself into a comfortable feather bed located within individually themed railroad cabooses. Includes a great breakfast. Restrictions: No kids or dogs unfortunately.
- Tallman Hotel $$$ – A beautifully restored hotel with excellent rooms & accommodations.
- Food & Drink:
- Blue Wing Cafe (Upper Lake, CA) – Great food
- Park Place (Lake Port, CA) – Great food
FORT BRAGG, CA:
- Railbikes (operated by the Skunk Train company) – <$100 – Mixing a bicycle with a train, these small bikes allow you to pedal power yourself along a 1.5 hr RT alongside a beautiful creek surrounded by gorgeous ferns and beautiful scenery. There’s a minimum age of 6 yrs old and height restrictions apply. This is a great date option or treat to one of your kids. https://www.skunktrain.com/railbikes/
- The Skunk Train – They also have a train option that slowly meanders through the redwoods, a long tunnel, etc. For double the price, you can even ride inside the train’s engine cab next to the train’s engineer driving the train.
- Glass Beach – Ever walk a beach and find an old piece of glass that had been ground down and perfectly smoothed over by sand. It almost looks hazy but still a little translucent (see through). If that was a cool experience, then you will love this one. Great for little and big kids alike. Here is a beach filled with small pieces of perfectly smoothed over glass. For the best pieces, walk to the far left once you get to the beach. It requires a little bit of scrambling down a rough but short trail to get there, but if you’re up to it, you might find glass pieces with better color.
- Food & Drink:
- North Coast Brewing: a great tap room with good selection to choose from.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: SIERRA NEVADA/CASCADE MTNS:
MOUNT SHASTA/ MCCLOUD, CA :
- Hike to the Secret Train car in the middle of the woods
- Jot Dean Ice Caves (that’s right, a cave with ice on the top & bottom of it)
- Little Mount Hoffman (great views of Mt. Shasta, also has a fire lookout (cabin on top of a mountain with incredible views) that you can rent.
- Hike Mount Eddy (near mt. Shasta)
- Hike Black Butte
- Herd Peak (Drive)
- Goose Nest Peak (old volcano with mini caldera inside)
- McCloud Falls (all 3 of them)
- McCloud Reservoir
- Castle Crags – giant granite spires & mountains. Nor-Cal’s best kept secret
- Lake Siskiyou – Canoeing/Kayaking
- Castle Lake – Canoeing/Kayaking
- Heart Lake – finding the elusive lake (hiking & gorgeous views of Mt Shasta
BURNEY FALLS / FALL RIVER MILLS:
- Burney Falls State Park (& the unmarked free entrance)
- Burney Mountain Lookout: Gorgeous views of Burney, Redding, & Mt.Shasta
- Hatchet Ridge: Awesome trail bike ride/run/hike next to giant windmills!
- Hiking to Pit River Falls: GPS 40.986747, -121.473201
- Hike across a suspension bridge, to a giant waterfall, & see the abandoned metal suspension bridge
- Canoeing/Kayaking Big Lake & Exploring Adjumawi Lava Springs State Park (least travelled park in the US. Also has lava tube caves)
- Soldier Mountain Lookout: Beautiful views of the Fall River Valley, Mount Shasta, Big Lake, & Burney
- Feather Falls
SEQUOIA NAT’L PARK
- Big Trees to Mt Whitney (60 mi / 5-7 days hiking). 60 miles might sound a little ominous, far fetched, or too much but let’s take a step back and see what this will entail. You start by seeing some of the biggest trees in the world (some 40ft wide at their base) and end by standing on the top of the tallest mountain in the contiguous US (lower 48 states) . Requires lots of training before to get your cardio & strength built up, but is something I’ve been dying to do. And for your California hiking cred, you may want to brag about completion of a trans-sierra hike (aka, hiked all the way over a mountain range). I really liked the description on the Timberlinetrails website. https://www.timberlinetrails.com/WhitneyGiantForestMap.html
YOSEMITE NAT’L PARK
- Yosemite Valley – Take the 4 mile trail from Yosemite Valley up to Glacier Point, then drop back into the valley the long way via Nevada Falls & Vernal Falls (if a warm day, take the mist trail down from Vernal Falls).
- The Indian Cave – a few miles from parking lot near the Ahwanee (also called the Magestic) hotel. This is a cave that consists of
- The Bathtub. More on that later.
- El Capitan Alcove Swing (only should be done by trained rock climbers with the climbing gear).
- White Mountain: Difficult – 11.1 Mi hike – If you’ve heard the term 14er by one of your friends, that means a peak over 14000ft tall. There’s only a handful that high or higher in the United States. White Mountain is one such peak. Difficult mostly because of the elevation and length of trail more so than than difficult of the actual trail. I’m so wanting to hike this trail. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/recarea/?recid=20230
- Ancient Bristle Cone Forest & the Methuselah Tree (oldest living tree)- 3 Self-guided Trails. Incredibly old and resilient, living at over 10,000ft, these trees (usually in the 15-25ft height) have twisting turning trunks of beautiful orange-redish colored bark. But that’s not all, beautiful views of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains jetting thousands of feet straight up out of the valleys below (not too far from the highest mountain in the continental US, Mount Whitney). https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=70821&actid=50
DEATH VALLEY, CA:
- Death Valley North:
- Ubehebe Crater
- The Racetrack –
- Stovepipe Wells, CA –
- Slot Canyons
- Telescope Peak (& the crashed airplane)
- Death Valley South
- Striped Butte (requires a significant 4×4 to get to it)
- Sidewinder Canyon
- Badwater (touristy, but being @ the lowest point in North America is pretty cool).
- Death Valley North:
SAN DIEGO, CA:
- Potato Chip Rock
- Anza Borrego State Park & Goat Canyon Railroad Trestle (via hike)
CRESTED BUTTES /ASPEN
PEARL PASS TRAIL – Start in Crested Buttes over Pearl pass, enjoy the hot springs, and over to Aspen then back.