By Rod Allen
Start your day with a late breakfast at Hot Brew, one of Fortuna's classic breakfast spots. Great food, cooked to order, lots of good coffee!
Visit Philly Cheese Steak Shoppe in Strongs Creek Plaza to pick up your lunch to go. They open at 11AM with excellent sandwiches at great prices. You'll have plenty of time later to enjoy your lunch in a gorgeous location!
Take US101-South bound from Kenmar Road Take exit 685 for Highway 36 east. The Drive to grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park is 16.8 miles along Highway 36. 12.8 miles after turning onto highway 36 you'll see a sign on the left for Owen R. Cheatham Grove. There is free parking in the lot and here you can take a short hike through one of the world's finest redwood groves. The huge trees grow straight up from the flat floor of the grove, which is covered with layers of ferns and redwood sorrel. Parts of the Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi were filmed in this grove. Take your time with hiking the trail which totals less than a mile. After leaving the grove, continue east on Highway 36 for another four miles to Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. This is a popular State Park which was slated to be closed by the State of CA because of budget concerns until the County of Humboldt took over management in 2012.You'll find a visitor center and ranger station here along with swimming in the Van Duzen River if you're visiting in the summertime. Here you can thoroughly enjoy short scenic hikes along the Memorial, Nature, Hiker's and Fisher-Wouk trails. Pick a spot along the trial or a picnic table at the day use area to enjoy your lunch from Philly Cheese Steak Shoppe! Returning along Highway 36 headed west you can enjoy another terrific stand of redwood forest at Pamplin Grove, part of Van Duzen County Park. Look for the sign on your left as you drive west. This is a grove that has been developed for group campsites, but it is beautiful and well worth a visit. Van Duzen County Park has a nature trial that connects Pamplin Grove with other parts of the Park.
Returning to Fortuna, you'll have driven less than forty miles round trip and enjoyed a memorable day of hiking in the redwoods. Cap the day off with a visit to Double D Steakhouse at 320 Main Street in Fortuna for a terrific dinner. Great steaks, pasta, seafood and more with a full bar! An excellent way to wrap up your day of exploration and discovery in Fortuna, California.