Humboldt County (map)
Howdy's description of the Kinetic Sculpture Race (founded by metal sculptor Hobart Brown in 1969):
Weather forecast for Prairie Creek Park
Weather forecast for Lassen
Weather forecast for Eureka
Things to see in Avenue of the Giants include: Founders Grove (located just south of the bridge over the creek, make sure you turn left into the bridge if you are coming from the north) with Dyerville Tree (a colossal fallen tree), the "Big Tree Area" (7 kms into Bull Creek Flats Road which starts just north of the bridge, an area located after the Rockefeller Grove and before the Albee Creek Campground, but note that you may have to wade the creek if the bridge is out, and on the other side there's a well-marked trail to the two trees, Giant Tree and Flat Iron Tree), Bolling Grove, Williams Grove, and maybe Shrine Drive Thru Tree (a tourist trap in Myers Flat). To get to Founders Grove (which is approximately halfway into Avenue of the Giants take exit 663 of highway 101).
There are three campgrounds along Avenue of the Giants: Albee Creek campground (on a side road that starts approximately where Founders Grove is), Burlington Campground (south of Founders Grove) and Hidden Springs Campground (further south) In 2021 all the tent sites were $35 plus a $8 reservation fee = $43. The nearby hotels may be better deals (and more quiet). Needless to say, cash only if you show up without a paid reservation.
Hiking the Lost Coast
The main gates to the Lost Coast are Mattole and Shelter Cove, a little town about 40 minutes west of Garberville (four hours north of San Francisco on 101). There are several small campgrounds before Shelter Cove, and it is also possible to camp on its beach, Black Sands Beach (it's mostly BLM area). Driving to Mattole takes about 2 hours via the very winding Wilder Ridge Rd/ Mattole Rd (80 kms total). The trailhead is located at the end of Beach Rd. There is a parking lot just before the trailhead. As of 2020, the sign "trailhead" actually sends you to the parking lot. Then you have to walk down to Beach Rd to the beach. There is no trailhead in the parking lot.
One can hike all the way to Mattole along the coast (40 kms), but usually a few kms are enough to get a feeling. Inland from the Lost Coast is King Range, a foresty series of hills that drop dramatically into the sea. Check tides and winds before you plan a Lost Coast hike: much of the lost coast is underwater during a high tide, and the sea can be dangerous even during a low tide if the winds are strong. A rewarding hike that mixes both Lost Coast and King Range is a loop from Saddle Mountain (a trailhead located 20 kms north of Shelter Cove on King Peak Rd/ Saddle Mountain Rd) to King Peak (8 kms) down the Rattlesnake Trail to the beach (10 kms), i.e. Big Flat, south 6 kms along the coast to the Buck Creek trail, up to Saddle Mountain (6kms), for a total of 30 kms. The uphill part is strenuous (whichever way you do the loop). There is drinkable water at the bottom of the Rattlesnake Trail. King Peak is the highest point along the coast north of Big Sur. If you are lucky, you can see quite a bit of wildlife near Big Flat: deer, bears, foxes, bobcats, etc (plus salmons and trouts in the creek). Unfortunately there are also rattlesnakes and ticks. And plenty of poison oak. The section between Big Flat and Buck Creek is impassable during high tides. The other section that is impassable during high tides is between the Punta Gorda lighthouse and Randall Creek. Compared with the dramatic coasts of Big Sur and Point Reyes, i don't think that the Lost Coast is particularly beautiful: its appeal comes from the "lost" status; not is King Range particularly breathtaking compared with the nearby redwood parks. Any hike on the Lost Coast can be a truly miserable hike if you pick the wrong time of the year. If you are coming from southern California, remember that it does rain in this part of the world, and often. And make sure you like to walk on sand for hours and hours if you plan to hike the whole Lost Coast...
Redwood National Park and neighboring Prairie Creek Redwoods Park
South of Prairie Park: Bald Hills Rd
South of Prairie Park: The Lagoons
Camping in Prairie park: Elk Prairie Campground (75 family sites), often full. Gold Bluffs Beach campground (26 sites) requires a permit and can be reached from Davison Rd, between Orick and Prairie Park (unmarked as of 2020): drive 5 minutes north from Orick on hwy 101 and turn left into the road for Elk Meadow which soon becomes an unpaved coastal road with a sign for Gold Bluffs Beach. The road is passable to low-clearance vehicles as long as it is not muddy from heavy rains.
Free camping at Redwood Creek but it requires a hike: get a permit from a Redwood National Park visitor center (eg the one at the Orick exit of highway 101), then drive up Bald Hills Rd (3 kms north of Orick), turn right after the overlook into the gated dirt road (the combination to open the lock is in the permit), drive to the end of the road, park, hike down, turn left at the first junction and then go straight down to the Redwood Creek, camp on the tiny sandy section of the river bank (a steep 2km hike)
Camping on the beach: go to Patricks Point Park and get a permit to camp on the beach north of the park
If you have to break the trip coming from southern California, consider Standish-Hickey Park that has three campgrounds: Hickey Campground, Rock Creek Campground, Redwood Campground (which is also the best) In 2021 all the tent sites were $35 plus a $8 reservation fee = $43. The nearby hotels may be better deals (and more quiet). Needless to say, cash only if you show up without a paid reservation.