To experience one of the most beautiful bike rides in Northern California shift into gear on Fern Canyon Trail in Van Damme State Park. A wide and flat dirt trail takes you deep into this velvety green canyon of dewy bishop pines, redwoods, and thick ferns, bisected by the Little River. Crisscross the river over several perfectly arched wooden bridges that keep the pedaling playful. At 2.5 miles there’s a junction where a signed bike-friendly trail veers right. Then it’s a 1-mile huff-and-puff climb leading out of the canyon and up to the Pygmy Forest. Park your bike and take the quarter-mile boardwalk around this unique area where poor soil and shallow hardpan has stunted the growth of manzanitas, pine trees, and huckleberries, making them mini-me versions of their full-size counterparts. Return the way you came—careful on the downhill! Small wonder this is a big hit bike ride.
TIP: For a nice bed and breakfast that covers a range of budgets check out the John Dougherty House in Mendocino. Some rooms have private decks with views of the ocean; all guests can enjoy the large garden and patio. Grab dinner at the relaxed and refined bar at the MacCallum House (it also has a formal dining room). The MacBurger Royale, with sun-dried tomato mayo, is gourmet and tasty!
The Fern Canyon Trail starts at the end of the road that goes through Van Damme State Park campground. Those who don’t want to climb for the last mile can lock up their bike at the 2.5 mile junction and hike the rest of the way. No dogs.