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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

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What to do in Del Norte?

 (Triplicate File Photo).
(Triplicate File Photo).

Triplicate staff

Summer's not quite half over, and the kids already are bored. Or maybe you've just arrived in town to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend.

Either way, you're wondering, "What's there to do in Del Norte?"

Short answer: Lots.

Hiking, biking, dining, touring, surfing, beachcombing, fishing – we've got all of that and much more.

Here's a selection of the some of the many great activities and places to see in Del Norte County.

Bicycle through a forest

There are several off-highway bicycling trails in Del Norte County. Among the most scenic is Little Bald Hills, off Howland Hill Road. The trail heads through redwoods and some mixed conifers.

Comb a beach

There are plenty of great beaches along the Del Norte shoreline. Pebble Beach, which parallels on Pebble Beach Drive, boasts among the spectacular scenery of them with misty rocks, the St. George Reef Lighthouse in the distance and grand sunsets over the ocean. A long strip of sand, the beach is perfect for agate hunting and seashell collecting. There are several spots to access Pebble Beach, although at some locations it is only accessible by stairs.

Discover history

The recently refurbished S.S. Emidio Memorial features a portion of the hull of a civilian oil tanker that was shot by a Japanese submarine. On Dec. 20, 1941, the Emidio was 200 miles north of San Francisco when a crewmember spotted a Japanese submarine. The sub opened fire on the Emidio with a 14-centimeter gun and killed five of the tanker's crew. The Emidio sank in Crescent City's harbor. The memorial is located at Beachfront Park, on the southwest corner of Front and H streets, and is one of seven state designated historical landmarks in the county.

Enjoy oceanside dining

Three Crescent City restaurants give particularly good views of the Pacific Ocean or harbor. The Beachcomber on U.S. Hwy. 101 south of town offers bay windows on the county's only beachfront restaurant. The Grotto, in the harbor, provides second-story views of the commercial marine facility and the waters beyond. The Chart Room, while not looking looking directly onto the ocean, offers views of sea lions and the commercial fishing portion of the harbor. In Smith River, Ship Ashore provides a view of the Smith River's mouth.

Fish for trout

The salmon won't be making their way up the Smith River until later in the summer to early fall. But up in the forks there are many rainbow and cutthroat trout to be caught. Parts of the river are closed during certain times of year, so don't forget to check the regulations put out by the Department of Fish and Game.; note that most of the summer fishing on the Smith is done in the forks. The Middle Fork can be accessed from the U.S. Hwy. 199. The South Fork can be followed on the South Fork Road, which is off of Hwy. 199.

Float down a river

Near the Oregon border is the mouth of the Smith River, among the nation's most pristine rivers. The Smith features both savage whitewater and a slow moving section. Inflatable kayaks as well as sit-on-tops for floating down the Smith are available for rent in Hiouchi. The upper reaches of the river are much rougher, however, and require dry suits. The North Fork has a 13-mile section that has Class IV rapids, the Main Fork has a Class V spot in Oregon Hole Gorge and the South Fork has Class IV and Class V rapids in South Fork Gorge.

Fly a kite

Wind coming off the ocean makes the Northcoast the perfect place for kite-flying. You're certain to see some neat kites flying during any drive along the coast. Perhaps the best spot for flying them in Del Norte County is at South Beach near the Crescent City Harbor. There's plenty of parking and open space so your kites won't tangle.

Go stargazing

There are number quick-to-reach spots shielded from city lights, allowing an

See PLACES TO SEE, B2

incredible view of the night sky. Venus is particularly brilliant this week, shining in the western sky about a quarter of the way up from the horizon right after sunset. The mightiest of planets, Jupiter, lies 25 degrees above the southeastern horizon an hour after sundown. Its yellowish glow contrasts with the red supergiant star Antares to Jupiter's lower right.

Hike through redwoods

At Stout Grove Trail, located within Jedediah Smith State Park, a deep sense of being inside a dense forest comes to hikers. Stout Grove is accessible in summer from Jed Smith campground via a seasonal foot bridge across the Smith River.

Meet local marine life

Located just south of Crescent City's business district, Ocean World provides a unique opportunity for visitors to get a close look at the marine life that makes its home off the Northern California coast. The 30-minute tour features an open tank where visitors can feel creatures that live in tide pools, and a tank that provides an opportunity to pet sharks. There are also several tanks that allow an up-close look at various animals, including rays, leopard sharks and eels. The tour concludes with an entertaining performance by two resident sea lions that do a variety of tricks and stunts for visitors. Ocean World is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. The first tour starts at 9:15 a.m. and the last tour begins around 4:30 p.m., depending on daylight. Admission is charged.

Observe carnivorous plants

Who needs sharks? The Darlingtonia californica, native to Del Norte County's bogs, traps insects in its unique leaves. Insects are attracted to pitchers by the color and nectar glands that cover the outside of the plant's hood. You can spot them on the Botanical Trail along Hwy. 199 near Gasquet. The gravel trail is a short walk.

Ride to the treetops

Perhaps the best attraction at the Trees of Mystery is the SkyTrail, a gondola that takes passengers on a half-mile journey from the ground and up through the tree tops. The ride takes between seven and nine minutes to reach the top, which is about 742 feet above sea level. If the fog has dissipated (which it usually does by late morning), visitors can catch glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and the forested mountains of Del Norte County from the observation deck at the summit. Trees of Mystery is on U.S. Hwy. 101 in Klamath.

Search for Bigfoot

Del Norte County boasts among the highest number of Bigfoot sightings in the nation. The famous short piece of 16 mm film by Roger Patterson was shot here near the Humboldt County border. While bigfoot sightings have occurred along Hwy. 199 between Crescent City and Grants Pass, Ore., most have taken place in the national forests east of Gasquet and in the Klamath River valleys. Even if you don't spot a sasquatch or the telltale giant footprints, you're sure to enjoy the scenic drive and hike through the Coastal Range's mixed conifer forests.

See seal pups

With nine outdoor pens, the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center can house up to 30 animals — from seal pups to larger sea lions — and visitors are always welcome to peek in the pens while walking the perimeter of the fence. "From March through September, we typically always have animals here," Center Director Lanni Hall said of the bustling facility that keeps information on all the animals on site and is staffed by volunteers who are happy to share their knowledge. "Harbor seals are very shy," Hall said. "There are a lot of magic moments when people see the little pups."

Shop the Farmer's Market

In the tradition of California's rich farming heritage, fresh vegetables and other food products are sold at the Crescent City Farmer's Market. It runs 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through September at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds in Crescent City.

Surf the ocean

Located just south of Crescent City, South Beach boasts some of the most user-friendly waves in the region. The bottom is sand, and its gradually sloping grade makes for clean easy-to-ride waves. There isn't an under tow, either, and beginners won't get tired or sucked out to sea. On any given weekend there will be a mix old and young – beginners and advanced surfers occupying the lineup. During the week, no matter how good the waves are, there are usually only a handful of people surfing.

Take in a round of golf

Built in 1953, Del Norte Golf Club is the dean of courses in the Wild Rivers Coast region. The course rests on a redwood-covered hillside. Wide fairways are normally easy to hit. Small greens, many perched on hillsides, are not. A creek comes into play on two holes. The course was recently purchased by the Elk River Rancheria, which operates Elk River Casino. The course features a driving range, putting green, pro shop, restaurant and bar. Reach the course by taking State Hwy. 197 to 130 Club Drive.

Tour a lighthouse

The 151-year-old Battery Point Lighthouse (featured on The Daily Triplicate's logo) isn't just a working sentinel warning boaters of dangerous rocks but also a personal residence. The Cape Cod-style beacon was featured in an early 1990s commercial for Jeep and in Tim McGraw's 1994 music video for the song "Not a Moment Too Soon." Visitors are encouraged to stop at the lighthouse, but watch your tide tables as Battery Point is only accessible (nd departable) at low tide. When you are able to cross, you are walking across the ocean floor.

Travel to Jurassic times

You don't need a time machine on the Northcoast to walk though a prehistoric world. A bicycle or car will do in getting you to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, just south of Klamath on Hwy. 101. Hiking trails through the park take you past redwoods and ferns and other species that existed when dinosaurs walked the Earth. In fact, parts of the movie "Jurassic Park" were filmed there. Prairie Creek boasts one of the most helpful visitor centers in the redwood park system (OK, so Prairie Creek isn't in Del Norte County, but it's close enough).

Visit an art gallery

Harbor Art Gallery, 140 Marine Way at Crescent City Harbor, is a non-profit organization that features local artists-members. From postcard art to framed wall hangings, this is a great place to find that memento of only-in-Del Norte sights, such as the lighthouses. Whether you favor oils, acrylics or watercolors, the gallery offers an array of Crescent City and Del Norte scenes, and sizes for every need.

Watch incredible birds

More than a half-dozen types of gulls call Del Norte County home. And they're not the only feathered friends who flock to our shores, lagoons and woodlands – more than 400 different bird species flutter about on any given day. At Lake Earl Wildlife Area, lucky watchers may even get a chance to glance at a bald eagle, blue heron, a wide variety of ducks and paragon falcons – which are known to fly up to speeds of 200 mph.

Tips for Exploring Beaches

•Keep kids and dogs above the high tide line – It's easy for them to get too close to the water and swept out to sea. Keep them in sight and up high.

•Wear sturdy shoes, such as sneakers – Avoid wearing flip flops or no shoes at all. And be prepared to get wet.

•Be aware of your footing – Don't walk on any wet rocks below the water line. Those rocks are covered with barnacles and muscles that can be very sharp; if you fell, you could get cut.

•Never turn your back on the ocean – Even on a beautiful day, a rogue wave could come in. You won't have much of a chance of escaping if a large wave sweeps you off shore.

•Respect the sea life – Walk gently so you don't trample tidepool creatures.

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