Eureka, CA to Weott, CA

48.6 mi / 11.6 mph / 1397 ft. climbing
Home: Burlington Campground hiker/biker campsite

In the midst of all this fear and avoidance of rain, we were surprised by one of the best days of pure bike touring so far, with clear enough skies not just for a beautiful ride, but to be able to camp overnight in comfort. Of course the camping is sort of a “must”, to balance our budget against the expensive nights behind and ahead.

Trees are tall (and you can play #FindRett) even when lying on their sides.

We left the motel for the treat of a Denny’s breakfast, and took our time to both make sure the night’s rain was cleared out, and for the UPS location to open at 10am so Rett could pick up a package waiting there (yet another mail-delivery option we’re learning about). Unfortunately the office door, contradicting both UPS’s phone support and Google, said they opened at 11am. Ugh. Rather than burning another hour or ditching another package, Rett essentially just followed some guys who looked like they knew what they were doing into the employee side of the building and started looking for her package. Luckily a sympathetic employee eventually came out to help and make her legal.

Can a velociraptor outrun a loaded touring cyclist?!
Gravel-bed “artwork” along the Eel river; not quite as uplifting as @meditativeartwithkaren’s sand art we saw in Oregon, but credit for something more thoughtful than random tire-track-scribblings?

The standard route included a lot of offshoots, but given our need to compress things and our comfort on the 101 expressway, we stuck mostly in its nice shoulder for the first part of the ride. One pull-off we did, mainly to avoid 50 feet of hills, fortuitously brought us through interesting little Scotia, a former (lumber) company-town that still has a huge redwood mill (with the “huge” thankfully modifying “mill” these days rather than “redwood”!)

We ate lunch in the entry to the (closed) Scotia museum, originally a bank, artfully architected in a Greek Revival style, but out of wood instead of stone!
Rett and a ‘Hocus Pocus’ fan’s house in Scotia.
We even got some rare-for-the-West Coast fall color with the blue skies on the 101!

The rest of the day was then on ‘Avenue of the Giants’, the old highway that runs through a narrow band of redwoods. The self-conscious branding that you can hear in the name, the limited connection to state/national park lands, plus the various tourist-trap “Drive Through Tree!” type attractions that appear on Google Maps had combined to set my expectations fairly low. But it turned out to be some of the most atmospheric redwood forest we’ve been through so far, and would have exceeded my expectations even if they’d been high. Some may have been due to the narrowness of the band of trees, allowing more light to filter in through the edges and create a warm glow unique to the area, some may have been the quiet empty road, and some might have just been the trees themselves.

Riding the Avenue of the Giants

The several small towns (pop. 50-250) that we passed through did meet my commercial/tourism expectations, but in the best way possible. They would generally have a “resort”, but small and faded and mossy and old, and in the filtered redwood light, you could almost see the summer ghosts of the 1950s families who once filled them on their auto-tour vacations. They would make us wistfully say “why aren’t we staying here?” as we passed by.

On the way to San Francisco!

The Burlington Campground sits directly on this Avenue, which is not even a problem because it feels like a campground road at that point. And unlike earlier, the woods were so dense that it was nearly dark at our 4pm arrival. We were surprised to see the three guys we’d met three nights earlier at Prairie Creek there, since we figured they’d be well ahead of us, but I guess we did make that unexpected jump to Eureka to keep pace with them, and they were wise enough to spend an extra night in a Eureka motel too.

Burlington Campground hiker/biker site #60, with the Avenue of the Giants right next to it.
Making campstove pizza in the light of our wine-bottle lantern.

More exciting than that was a new trio of tourers who rolled in as we were making dinner in the near-dark. Younger and perhaps less-wise than us or the other trio, but more intrepid and self-discovering, Annie, Ahmed, and Rey were actually all solo travelers, who had been lucky enough to find each other in their individual times of need, and then open and trusting enough to bond together as a trio to ride together to San Francisco. That’s the sort of Coast Caravan Life that refreshes my faith in the future of humanity. They joined us in our double-site, and then generously added their firewood and conversation to ours. As a group we burned both deep into the dark, warmed as thoroughly by the camaraderie as by the flames.

Making community around the campfire at Burlington Campground hiker/biker sites.



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4 responses to “Eureka, CA to Weott, CA”

  1. Joel Avatar

    So you’ve taken on the mantle of Bike Touring Community Guru Steve?

    Glad you got to see more redwoods than just a sample, but for those of us who’ve had limited time, it’s nice to know that Stout is still the quintessential Grove.

    1. neil Avatar

      Someone has to pass on the wisdom to the younger generations! Although, this younger generation had already bought+brought their own firewood, so they didn’t really need any teaching anyway. Although, I suppose anyone with the sense of a mule out camping in late October shouldn’t need any social reason to get firewood!

      In Crescent City, after we descended from Jedediah, we saw an official road sign pointing back up that simply said “Stout Grove”. Not “Jedediah Smith State Park”, or even “JSSP / Stout Grove”, but simply, “Stout Grove”. You should still go to Prairie Creek sometime though!

      1. neil Avatar

        How does this email notification work?

        1. Joel Avatar

          Worked! And yeah Prarie Creek is on the list

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