Wanderers Home Trail – Mendocino National Forest

Visualize never ending groves of redwood trees and an unkempt segment of what would otherwise be developed farm land and suburbs. The vast and untouched Mendocino National Forest is reminiscent of what California may have looked like 300 years ago.

Mendocino National Forest

Beginning our month long road trip towards Oregon, we spent 4 days venturing the aptly named, “Wanderers Home Trail.” Unsure of what to expect, seeing a bear within our first 15 minutes of hiking filled us with equal parts unease and excitement for the days to come. We promptly returned to the car and retrieved our bear canister, more for peace of mind than as a serious safety measure, the black bears out here are generally timid. With dusk rapidly approaching we chose a wooded campsite several miles from the trail head.

We spent the next day lounging, a welcomed break from the previous days long drive and energy sapping heat. Shabbat amongst the trees was relaxing and a mellow foot on which to start our month long trip culminating at the Rainbow Gathering in Oregon.

Starting day three full of energy we planned to camp somewhere along the twists and turns of the Eel River. Watching the beautiful blue water along the last half hour of our past days drive was one of the few redeeming features of the three hour long car ride from the Bay Area. Mendocino National Forest Backing on the Eel RiverUnfortunately the advice of a backpacker making his way back to Covelo (the last town before the Wanderers Home TH) turned out to be accurate, “It is a pretty wild trail, watch out for all the poison oak… and ticks…  Also parts of the trail need to be taken step-by-step [whatever that meant?] ” We found out what that meant in no time, carefully walked along the crumbly edges of trail that a mountain goat would have found hard to traverse. Thankfully the ‘step-by-step’ segments of the trail where far and few in between, we were too blown away by the views of the Eel River and distant mountains ranges to even consider turning around.

Rock surfing in Mendocino National ForestAfter a particularly grueling bit of down hill scrambling we arrived at the trails namesake, Travelers Home. Although we had only hiked a few hours that day, six miles total, we were ready to embrace the name of the site we had arrived at and make it our home.

Prior to arriving at Travellers Home we ran into a threesome of backpackers heading the opposite direction. They had camped at Travelers Home the night before and tried to make it to Eel River the previous day but told us that the trail past the campsite continued only a mile before becoming impassible and overgrown. We were disappointed at the prospect of not reaching the Eel River.

Hammocking in the Mendocino National ForestWithin a few minutes walk of our campsite we found a flowing stream where we could spend the remainder of the day in a state of complete laze. We promptly set up our hammock, pulled out our paints, and tuned my ukulele for what was the most relaxing day I can think of in recent memory. Inspired by the beautiful area where we spent the day  I wrote a poem:

Adam ate the apple, But we won’t

The flowing serenity is too precious To have a price

A lulling breeze seduces us To Sleep

Rushing water sweeps us deeper Into this dream

Utterly at ease the trees Slowly envelope us

Now we are the Garden.

Getting a late start the next day we began a less than optimistic trek towards Eel River. Sure enough within half an hour we arrived at an impassible trail (but a hell of a view).

Incredible views from Mendocino National ForestAfter a brief negotiations we came to the agreement that we should spend the rest of the day in a similar manner as our last, relaxing. As I finish this recap of these last few days,  I am hanging on a hammock suspended over a stream in utter bliss. This stream became our Eel River and infused us with an unbounded high with which to lead the rest of our trip.

Mendocino National Forest

Our next stop the Lost Coast Trail. A rugged coastline trek in the Kings Range Wilderness. Check out this post to see if we got eaten by a bear (just kidding mom, these bears are totally cool).

Here is what we learnt along the way:

  • Don’t let the lack of maps online deter you. You can find this route on apps like “All Trail” or “Gaia”.
  • Stop in at the rangers station located right after the town of Covelo and right before the road leading to the trailhead. Pick up a fire permit, learn about recent trail conditions, and the latest weather forecast.
  • Unless the trail has had a serious overhaul getting to the Eel River via this trail is unlikely
  • BRING TREKKING POLES, you won’t regret it.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for snakes and bears, this is their home, we are the visitors.
  • Depending on the season you go (we went early Summer) expect a bunch of ticks and mosquitos, and of course POISON OAK!

If you are thinking about making this trip and have any questions let us know below. Please leave us with a comment and trail update if you have made this trip recently, we would love to hear from you.

My overpainted watercolor rendition of the Garden of Eden we spent our last two days in:

Watercolor of Mendocino National Forest

Comments

  1. gittel r. goodman

    Cool Bears, really?!? They better not mess with my cub!
    Thinking about you 🙂
    With love,
    Mama Bear

  2. Pingback: Revisiting the Lost Coast Trail - King Range National Conservation Area | Slug Pace

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