Six Rivers Tour

My friend Paul and I decided to take a tour in Northern California as sort of a celebration of our retirement. The original plan was to do a large loop starting in Weaverville, California, riding down Highway 36 to 101. Down and back into the Avenue of the Giants, side trip to Ferndale. Then north on Highway 101 to 299. Highway 299 to 96. Leave Highway 96 at Scott River road to Highway 3 back to Weaverville. Best laid  plans of mice and men, and all that.

The planned route was 501 miles with 38,155 feet of climb. We expected to finish in about 2 weeks. We ended up modifying the route because we wimped out due to the rain.

I drove to Paul’s house Thursday morning at 4:00 AM to pick him up for the ride to Weaverville. My breakfast on the way was Cliff and Lara bars with hot tea. We passed Sacramento at 11:45. Between Redding and Weaverville we stopped at the WhiskeyTown Lake.

We were in Weaverville by 3:30. We checked in to the Motel Trinity and put the van in storage at U-Haul. The we did a little exploring around town on our bikes. Motel Triinity was clean, but the linens were kind of threadbare. It seems obvious that the owners are struggling to keep the business going. The economy in this part of California is pretty depressed. The people are very friendly.

Friday April 20

Today’s map

We left Weaverville at 9:00am, heading for Hayfork and the Timberjack Lodge.

The altitude vs distance graph for today.

Here are some interesting statistics from my Garmin Edge.

Today’s statistics

It was a hard first day. We had to stop several times and I had to walk a couple of times. This wouldn’t be the last day I would walk. There was almost a half mile to climb in the 28.83 miles we rode. We stopped at a rest stop a few miles out of Weaverville after the first climb. A young lady, Jehovah’s Witness, came over and engaged us in conversation. We learned from her that the blooming bushes we were seeing are red bud.

Here are the red buds blooming.


Here I am with my overloaded touring bike. Nothing but optimism at this point. We’ve only been on the road a little over an hour.

We saw a lot of flowers along the way, some I had never seen before. We saw many signs in support of and announcing meetings to rally around the The State of Jefferson. We traveled along Summit Creek most of the day and stopped once by a cascading waterfall going into the creek.

This is one of the many stops along the way.

Here I am at the same stop

We could hear the rushing water all day.

Hayfork Summit was the highest point of our ride today. You can get an idea of the work it took to get here, by looking at the elevation chart above. The first three days seemed to get progressively more difficult.

We arrived at the Timberjack Lodge around 3:00. Not a fancy place, but clean and quiet.

We checked in, unpacked our bikes and headed to town for food and drink. I bought a burrito at Casa De Castellano’s family owned Mexican restaurant. Nice people, good food.

Saturday April 21st

We left the Timberjack Lodge at 7:45 and headed to the local grocery store for provisions.

Today’s map

Today’s Elevation ChartToday’s vital statistics

Forest Glen is today’s goal. 22 miles doesn’t seem that far. Distance is only part of the story. Two thousand foot of elevation gain, is a lot of climbing.

This structure was curious to me. I think it’s a beehive furnace for burning sawdust. But it’s missing the top screen that other pictures of sawdust burners I find on line all have.

Lot’s of awesome views. Hard to pick a favorite.

There were plants flowering everywhere we rode. I think those are apple trees on the left. Paul in the middle.

This is the climb behind us………… and more climb in front of us.

I saw may drivers going the other way, wave, give us a thumbs up or otherwise acknowledge our struggle. The views were awesome. Hard to capture with a camera. You had to be there.

No, I don’t have man boobs! I carry my phone in left breast pocket and my camera in the right.

Even though it’s physically taxing, the experience at human speed is much different than in a car. You not only experience the sights, but the sounds and the smells.

It turned out that both Hell’s Gate and Forest Glen campgrounds were closed. We were able to get water at Forest Glen. We camped up a dirt road from Hell’s Gate. A local told us there was a good campsite near an outhouse along the South Fork of the Trinity River. We found the spot and it was excellent.

This is the view of the river from out campsite.

For dispersed camping this was pretty luxurious.

Sunday April 22

Map of the day

Today’s elevation graph

Today’s statistics

We didn’t get out of camp until 10:00 AM, which cost us later in the day. This was the hardest day so far. We climbed more than half a mile and descended more than a mile.

There was snow along side of the road.

You don’t get views like this riding in the flat lands.It was a long hard climb getting to this summit.

After the summit, there were several more climbs. We had to ride through a construction area where they were repairing and realigning the road. The road was rough and some place were steep enough I had to walk. We ended the day at Grizzly Redwoods State Park. We got in at 10:00 PM. We had to set up camp in the dark and ate freeze dried meals for dinner. It was a very long day. Probably why there are no pictures of the campground.

Monday April 23rd

Today’s map

Today’s elevation

Today’s statistics

These are the only two pictures I took in this campground.

I did get some shot’s of the flowers blooming under the redwoods, however.


We didn’t break camp until late, in part due to our late arrival. As we rode toward the coast we seemed to be getting passed by waves of motor vehicles. We conjectured that they were being released from the construction site we went through yesterday.

Riding through the Redwoods was delightful.

Near town we saw amazing colors in people’s yards.

The original plan was to go South into the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and camp and Burlington Campground. Paul insisted when you’ve seen one Redwood forest you’ve seen them all. He said he didn’t want to do an out and back through the Redwoods. Against my judgment I relented and we went North instead to Fortuna and the Best Western. Paul opted to pay for the rooms. We had dinner at the Eel River Brewing Company.

Tuesday April 24

Today’s statistics

We started the day with a trip to Ferndale a Victorian town where many of the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Buildings, we crossed the Fernbridge to get there. One narrow lane each direction, requiring us to ride in the lane for safety. No room to pass in the lane, and no shoulder

Then we were on to Ferndale.

Passing bucolic fields of cows grazing and farm houses that probably date from the Victorian eraWe passed this Victorian Church on the way into downtown.

Downtown Ferndale

I bought postcards at the Rings Rexall Drugs. When was the last time you saw a sign like that?

We then proceeded to Highway 101, where we cruised into Eureka.

We passed the Humboldt Bay

I was amazed to see such a large bay that appears visually to be fairly pristine

Before we reached Eureka, we had to cross the Eureka slough. Under a narrow bridge, where we chose to walk our bikes.

We ended the day at the Redwood Coast Cabins and RV Resort. For some reason, neither of us seems to have taken any pictures of our camp. Maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was just the less than memorable surroundings. It’s a KOA campground with tent sites around the edges. It was quiet and comfortable, if not memorable.

Wednesday April 25

I was feeling fatigued and in need of a rest day. I had a mild sore throat. I rode on the route, and missed the turn to get to the hotels. Paul used his phone to find the Best Western near the intersection of the 101 Freeway and Highway 299. We spent the rest of the day and night there. Walked to Chinese restaraunt for lunch and later went to grocery to get goodies to munch in our rooms.

Thursday April 26

We left Best Western Arcata at 8:30 after a hearty breakfast.

Today’s map

As has been out strategy, we rode as much as possible on side roads to Highway 101 to avoid the traffic. Sometimes we found surprising sites.

Here’s Paul trying to camouflage himself among the California poppies.

The poppies along the road here were some of the most spectacular we saw.

Is that a bridge troll? No, it’s only me.

We saw a committee of vultures on a fence.

Soon we were climbing Tompkins Hill Road.

Spectacular views, but some parts have over 20% grade, impossible to ride on a fully loaded tourer.

But we persisted. And we had a visitor along the way. A nice woman in a small car stopped and chatted with us part way up the hill.

This was near the top of the hill. Could this be the Tomkins house and barn?

Paul was so exhausted he started counting on his fingers.

We found ourselves in Old Town Fortuna. It appears most of the cities in this area date to the Gold Rush period.

Managed to get Paul and myself in the same picture. Trick photography! Not so much.

We rode along Waterfront Drive and then made our way to the newly opened bike path along the Eel River. We came out right near Highway 101 and proceed south to the Riverwalk Drive and the Best Western.

The forecast was not encouraging. We were expecting rain for the next 2-4 days.

Friday April 27th

Today’s map

Today’s elevation profile

Today’s statistics

This was our longest distance for the tour. We were prepared for and expecting rain when we left Fortuna at 8:45. We spent most of they day riding through the Avenue of the Giants.

The sky was getting dark, so I was getting my rain cape ready.

There was very little traffic. Where the trees covered the road, the rain often didn’t penetrate to the road. It was somewhat dark  in the thickest  parts.

From time to time we would get close to the shore of the Eel River which flows through the park.

That was pretty much the end of the tour. We holed up in Best Western Plus in Garberville for three nights. We did do a short ride to Benbow and back on Sunday. Paul’s wife came up Monday picked us up and took me back to my car, and we drove home. I’m somewhat disappointed that we didn’t finish the second half of the ride out Highway 299 and then north and east along Highway 96. I guess the mountains took their toll.

I need to reduce my load weight considerably. I carried too much food, fully expecting to be away from stores for several days.

The rain cape worked well, though the magnetic tabs that are supposed to hold the front of the cape to the handlebars, is all but useless at the speeds we travel. Maybe if you’re meandering along a path at 1-2 mph it might hold. But holding the hem of the cape across the bars kept the rain off my legs, negating the need for wearing rain legs. I was able to use the hood to adjust my comfort level. If I got to warm, pull the hood off. Get chilled, pull the hood up.

I’m looking at all my gear with an eye toward reducing weight and volume. My future goal is to do the Sierra Cascades route north and the Pacific Coast Trail back home. I’ll need to conserve weight to be able to complete that goal.



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