6 day California road trip itinerary
Visit the world's tallest trees and discover California's hidden treasures
Start / End
6 days, 5 nights
896mi, 22hrs 50min
What you will do
If this trip is not on your Must-Visit list, it certainly should be. You need to walk and experience the coastal redwood forrest. Also capture California "the way it used to be" in a visit to Lost Coast historic towns with rich history and vibrant culture. We build this itinerary based on the route we followed in Sept 2019. Enjoy!
Day 1 - Activity 4
Salt Point State Park
Gerstle Cove Campground is a beautiful spot to spend the night surrounded by Cypress Trees. $35 per night, its 30 spots get booked up quickly so make sure to reserve ahead of time. Review photos of campsites and book online here.
Next Stop: 38mi, 55min
Day 2 - Activity 3
Follow a forest road through the redwoods towards a tucked away beach. Find a spot on the beach and fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Enjoy a glass of wine or beer with the oysters from Hog Island.
If too windy, drive away from the beach into the forest.
Next stop: 2 hr, 65 mi
Day 3 - Activity 1
Avenue of the Giants
Today is a big driving day so have your morning coffee and breakfast and head out bright and early towards the Avenue of the Giants. It’s a scenic drive that gives you a taste of what’s to come - some of the oldest and tallest trees on the planet. Pick up the pamphlet at the entrance and follow the guidance points.
Next stop: 50 min, 47 mi
Day 4 - Activity 1
Damnation Creek Hike
Today is all about this beautiful hike, one of the most stunning hikes in California: Damnation trail hike. This hike is 3.5 miles (or 5.6 km) there and back - make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks. This hike will lead you to a secluded beach where you can rest, have some food and enjoy the ocean view.
Next stop: 5 min, 5 mi
Day 5 - Activity 1
Leave camp bright and early to make your way to Lost Coast. Your first stop is the historic town of Ferndale - some call it "California, the way it used to be". Admire thee Gingerbread Mansion Inn - one of the oldest inns in California. Stop by Champman's Bookery to support a local small business.
Day 5 - Activity 2
Continue along Mattole Road in your 4WD to experience the true Lost Coast. It got its name when it was determined that building HWY1 here was prohibitively expensive. This stretch is spared the tourist traffic and preserves a natural California vibe.
Next stop: 2h 30 min, 74 mi
Day 5 - Activity 3
There is a gravel road that connects to Shelter Cove. For a taste of overland adventure - take this road less travelled. But if you are short on time, follow the loop to 101. Grab dinner at Gyppo Ale Mill and watch small planes land right in front of the restaurant.
Next stop: 15 min, 6 mi
Day 6 - Activity 1
Take a walk through historic district, stop by wineries for tasting tours. We like: Matthieson, Turnbull, Barber Cellars Tasting Room and Azari Vineyards if you like the idea of pizza+wine. Craving beer? Stop by Lagunintas Brewing Co. For the best pie you will ever have, head to Petaluma Pie Company.
Next stop: 44 min, 35 mi
Campsite pre-booking is recommended
Off-road driving experience is recommended
Camp fire permits required - they can be obtained online before the trip for free