Hiking in Humboldt County

There are so many hiking options in Humboldt County. I have lots of choices within 20 minutes of my Trinidad doorstep. I went on a longer 5 mile hike and then a short 1.6 mile hike–both with ocean views and lots of up and down.

The hike began along the beach in the refreshing fog.
The hike began along the beach in the refreshing fog.

On New Years Day I took advantage of the California State Parks kick off to their 150th year celebration in 2014. They hosted over 40 hikes at state parks including one at the Humboldt Lagoons State Park. I arrived at the park just as they took the group photo–over 30 people of all fitness levels looked forward to the 2.5 mile hike to the lagoon and 2.5 miles back.  We trooped across the beach and then headed up the trail. I am not one for group trips and it felt a bit like a wagon train walking up hill and over dale. If I had been a part of a pioneer train I would have volunteered to be a scout to get a chance to see off in the distance.  Occasionally the park ranger leading the walk would stop and give us information about flora and fauna.

A variety of woodlands framed the trail.
A variety of woodlands framed the trail.

We arrived at the lagoon and people spread out to eat their lunches at picnic tables and along the shore. I decided to head straight back so I could have the trail to myself and walk at my own pace. It took much less time to get back. There is only a shack like outhouse at the lagoon so I was happy to see the slightly nicer version at the parking lot. The hike began at 11:00 a.m. and now it was 2:00 p.m The parking lot was overflowing and a few groups had built campfires.

Lagoon.
Lagoon.
I enjoyed the solitude on the return hike.
I enjoyed the solitude on the return hike.

I overhead lots of conversations and while some people are regular hikers, most people seemed to be acting on resolutions for 2014. It was a great way to start the new year whatever the motivation.

Douglas Fir

On another day H., N. and I took the dogs to Trinidad Head. You can park at the Trinidad State Beach or walk from the parking lot at the Marina and Seascape Restaurant.  We walked from my rental home across the village.  As you head up the hill you can turn right at the trail or continue to the left up the road. Going to the right is clockwise and involves a lot more up. The trail is protected from the wind by lovely hedges. There are numerous breaks with seating for whale watching or staring out to sea. It is not hard to imagine shipwrecks just off shore.

The dock and Seascape restaurant are next to Trinidad Head
The dock and Seascape restaurant are next to Trinidad Head

Gorgeous views all round Trinidad HeadGorgeous views all round Trinidad Head

Friends framed by hedge archway
Friends framed by hedge archway

The hike is only 1.5 miles round the head and over a mile is up if you go clockwise. Near the “top” is a cross put in place by the “club women”.  The return on the road is a steepish downhill. The views of the bay and village are lovely. As we returned we were passed by an older gentleman who appeared to walk this trail everyday–a rigorous and healthy routine.

The walks to the Old Home Beach are too short to be called a hike. You can reach the beach from the Memorial Lighthouse in the village or from the Parker Creek trail. Both routes involve serious stairs and were a challenge to Radar’s creaky back legs. He was a trooper; although he could not see the sea lions just offshore and I dutifully kept him on leash, he really enjoyed the the variety of smells and sights along the shore.

cross at Trinidad head

Yummy Eating in Trinidad

Lighthouse Grill

The mashed potato cone is surprisingly yummy.
The mashed potato cone is surprisingly yummy.

Trinidad can boast a lot of really great places to eat for such a small town. The Lighthouse Grill is casual, affordable and delicious. The hamburger buns and ice cream are homemade and the fish is fresh from the Trinidad bay. Their most famous dish is the mashed potato cone. It is mashed potatoes with gravy and bacon in a cornmeal waffle cone.  I have eaten here a couple of times and ordered the mashed potato cone, fish and chips, tuna fish sandwich and cheeseburger. Everything was delicious. It is a fun place with indoor and outdoor seating. The location in the Murphy’s Market parking lot is not picturesque, but they make up for it in original and good tasting food. Just watch the fat intake (or look the other way)

Larrupin’s Cafe 

Consistently excellent Larrupin's Cafe in Trinidad
Consistently excellent Larrupin’s Cafe in Trinidad

Our dinner meal on New Years Eve was one of the best in memory. The service was topnotch and the interior is elegant and cozy. Until the sun set we had a view of the pretty garden. We went for the food and it lived up to its reputation: YUM! My friend started with the barbequed oysters: excellent. I have been eating the Larrupin’s red sauce (bbq-esque) for over 20 years and it has been almost that long since I dined in the restaurant. Why did I wait so long?

The wine list is comprehensive and you can buy anything by the glass or bottle. Entrees are priced between $25-38 and is a good value because it includes the appetizer board, salad and a choice of potato or vegetable. We varied our orders so we could taste more but we all ordered the twice-baked potato–old school and so delicious. I am not sure if they still sell their salad sauce; they should. It is amazing.

I ordered the lamb chops, Harriet ordered the chicken in phyllo, and Brian ordered the prime rib special. The prime rib was truly amazing. I loved my lamb chops and the chicken in phyllo was excellent.

We didn’t have room for dessert but our friend Jodie is the dessert chef so I had to try one. We all ordered coffee (it was a long time until midnight) and it was excellent. So many times restaurants do not get the coffee right. This Trinidad institution still delivers consistently excellence after all of these years. The triple layer chocolate cake with amaretto creme filling and caramel topping was out of this world. H and I said we’d only take a few bites and then it was almost gone!

Wow! beautiful and delicious
Wow! beautiful and delicious

I am not waiting 20 years before I eat at Larrupin’s again!

Jodie’s chocolate cake

Simply delicious chocolate cake
Simply delicious chocolate cake

I eat really well when I am in Humboldt County because so many people in Harriet’s family are terrific cooks.  Jodie is a pastry chef, Matt is also a chef. Nora is a great cook, and so is Jenny, and Harriet. When everyone gets together it is delightful and impossible to eat moderately. Steph and Jodie hosted a holiday open house and Jodie made this simple chocolate cake. I took my first bite and thought “this is what cake is supposed to taste like!” So many times you bite into cake hoping for this. Oh my.  I asked Jodie for the recipe (he is generous that way) and he went to the recycling and dug out the notes he made while he made it. It is all in grams and is missing some of the usual information about oven tempurature and how long to bake it–just the notes an accomplished baker needs to stay on track. I may frame it!

Trinidad Bay Eatery and Gallery

I started eating breakfast here on my first morning and went almost every morning during my stay.  I tried the Parker Street pancakes with banana and pecans because I’m staying at Parker Creek Cottage. Other mornings I ate the oatmeal, or buttermilk pancakes, or eggs over medium, or a ham and cheese omelette. It was a great way to start the day. Michelle, my waitress, would brew a pot of decaf coffee for me and make sure I had what I needed. There are a lot of regulars eating breakfast and I did not mean to eavesdrop and I learned a

Parker Street Pancakes
Parker Street Pancakes

lot about the character of the town. There is a lot to like.

Seascape Restaurant

Seascape Restaurant with Raven
Seascape Restaurant with Raven

The last place I tried is located down at the fishing pier and is on the water. It recently got a new ramp and entrance but the indoors have not ever been remodeled! I was craving clam chowder so we went to the Seascape for lunch.  The service is the best part of the experience at Seascape. Our waitress was very sweet and competent. The food is good and nothing memorable. There is a lot of fish on the menu and the prices are reasonable.

Beachcomber Cafe

It was the only restaurant of note (beside the casino) in Trinidad that I did not try because it was closed with the owners on vacation from December 24 to January 3.  From the menu on the door it appears that breakfast seems to be focused on bagels and they have a commitment to organic food and not using throw away dishes. There is another sign on the door that explains that you can take their real mugs to go if you bring them back.

I also tried the Murphy’s Market deli–they made a ham and swiss sandwich for my New Years Day hike. I requested Larrupin’s mustard and it was made to order and tasty. Of course after hiking 5 miles, sandwiches taste exceptionally good.

I focused on Trinidad restaurants during my stay and there are many more options if I drove into Arcata or Eureka. This is also the home of Cypress Grove goat cheese–my favorite is “Purple Haze.” I have places I want to try–guess I will have to return one day soon.