Like many other addictions, getting hooked on Humboldt often starts with a “harmless” activity that draws the addict in by imperceptible stages. We refer to these as Gateway Experiences, or GEs, and here for your information we list the 10 GEs most responsible for getting people hooked on Humboldt.

Big Trees     Hiking & Biking     Paddle Sports     Bird Watching     Microbrews

Motorcycling     Local Events     Beaches     Arts & Culture     Culinary Traps

 Big Trees Unfortunately, simply knowing that the redwood forests of Humboldt County harbor the tallest trees in the world does not prepare one for the emotional impact of walking among them. We see this time and again; what one sufferer described as a “sledgehammer to the senses.” Feelings of wonder and awe easily strip away the strongest resistance and, all too often, the subject becomes hooked on Humboldt before they know what has hit them.

 Hiking & Biking  It’s not just the stunning scenic beauty of Humboldt County trails that ensnares visitors with a penchant for rambling on foot or on a bike, it’s the sheer quantity of them. Literally hundreds of trails crisscross the county—through ancient forests, flower-strewn hills, bucolic farmlands, wild river valleys and magnificent coastline. At its worst, a Humboldt addiction compels someone to do them all.

 Paddle Sports It all starts innocently enough—there’s this inexpensive canoe or kayak at Costco; it goes so easily up on the roof rack. Before you know it, you’re spending every waking hour paddling Humboldt Bay amid herons and harbor seals. You’re exploring the Humboldt Lagoons and adventuring off the coast of Trinidad. Maybe you’re even into the hard stuff and tasting whitewater on the Trinity River. You’re hooked.

 Bird Watching Standing beneath tens of thousands of Aleutian Geese as they simultaneously hurl into the sky—this experience alone has converted hundreds into Humboldt addicts. But anyone who fancies the birds is compellingly drawn to a county boasting over 400 species, with varied habitats and remarkable viewing opportunities. No wonder bird watchers migrate here to pad out their life lists.

 Microbrews There are good suds all along the West Coast, but nowhere is there such a concentration of award-winning microbreweries as in Humboldt County. Within 30 miles of one another, Eel River, Lost Coast, Mad River, Humboldt, Six Rivers and Redwood Curtain Breweries offer the ultimate pub crawl that is irresistible to the most casual of hop-heads.These Humboldt addicts often don’t realize what ales them.

 Motorcycling Bikers are tough, with a reputation for being independent and unsentimental. But beneath that hard, leather-clad exterior there often beats a delicate, poetic heart with no resistance to the best motorcycle roads in California. Just a few miles of scenic twisties and they’re hooked—returning again and again to try other roads, attend biker events and patronize biker-friendly businesses.

 Local Events Many hardened Humboldt addicts were “just passing through” when they stumbled onto a festival, concert, exhibit or street fair. Little did they expect such great entertainment or such utterly welcoming and open-hearted locals—people who have retained a zest for life and just know how to have fun. The innocent promise to “come back next year” turned into a compulsion they couldn’t shake.

 Beaches People who go to a Humboldt County beach expecting the typical California beach experience (crowds, litter, etc.) are ill-prepared for the broad stretches of pristine sands, pounding surf, native plants, secluded coves, wildlife and driftwood. They are especially vulnerable to the prospect of being virtually alone on the beach. A particularly sad aspect of the beach GE is that dogs are also highly susceptible.

 Arts & Culture Why should someone from the “Big City” worry about getting sucked in by small town arts? How could they know that Eureka, with its galleries, events, public sculpture and murals, has been called America’s Best Small Arts Town? Or that Humboldt County preserves a world-famous stock of Victorian architecture and wonderful heritage attractions? Too late, they find themselves visiting to revel in ubiquitous, accessible arts.

 Culinary Traps If you assume that everything north of wine country is a food and wine desert, you’re apt to fall into one of Humboldt’s culinary traps. Did you know that Humboldt Bay produces three-quarters of California’s oysters? Or that the county raises the finest grass-fed beef in the state? Award-winning cheeses and wines, fresh-caught seafood, organic produce…the list goes on, and local chefs make the best of it. Foodies beware!

10 Gateway Experiences