Categorized | Camping, Northern California

A Night in Fort Bragg

Hidden Pines Campground

Click here for the photo gallery

Our adventures began when we left Eureka for Fort Bragg.  On the way up north on US CA 101, I had seen a sign pointing out a shortcut to Fort Bragg, so I figured we would take that on our way to the Mendocino Coast.  Plus Teresa had her GPS system, so what really could go wrong?

It all started out great.  We had a nice evening in Eureka at Arts Alive with Teresa’s friend Lisa.  There was enough light that we could enjoy a drive through Avenue of the Giants, which is something I had always wanted to do.  Definitely worth it, if you find yourself up there.

We reached the Highway 1 turnoff to Fort Bragg at Leggett.  Let me just say that – unlike Avenue of the Giants – if you have an opportunity to do this, don’t!  It was windy, it was dark, it was narrow and it was scary. Fortunately because it was nighttime, I had no clue that I was driving on top of sheer cliffs, with straight vertical drops to the ocean.  My friend Bruce, who at one point traveled the country in a motor home, later told me that he had heard tales of terror from other RV travelers who innocently took that route thinking it would be a nice scenic drive….

Adding to the excitement, Teresa’s GPS had a sudden meltdown and started shouting out instructions that had no connection to known reality – such as “Turn left! Turn Left!”  “Turn around! Turn Around!”  Did I just mention that we were on a narrow, winding, two lane road, with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other?  You do the math.

Unlike me, Teresa kept her cool.  After unplugging the GPS and putting it away, she took this opportunity to teach me how to drive in pitch black circumstances.  High beams on during the drive, lowered for approaching vehicles, then on again.  Wouldn’t have known what to do otherwise.

We were headed for the Hidden Pines Campground.  I had found this campground the day before, on July 2, while at work.  Between business meetings, I was trying to find a place for us to stay, and although at the time, Hidden Pines was full, about 20 minutes later they called me back and said they had an open space.  When was the last time someone called you back for anything?  Exactly my point.  Because of that, we were going there, and nowhere else.  But with Teresa’s GPS temporarily strait-jacketed and my iphone in a “no service” area, we were not entirely sure where the campground was.  Teresa encouraged me to keep driving south and eventually the big sign guided us in. Note to self: make sure to have paper, pencil guidebooks and maps in the car on the next road trip.  Electronics fail!

Hidden Pines Campground was unlike anything I have ever seen before. At 11 pm, the check-in and store was all lit up and the owners were full of good cheer, busy settling into a big game of Yahtzee.  We were told to drive around the back and our campsite was on “the hill”.

Teresa whispered to me that she had never been to a campground that had a storefront and as we drove around the back, she added she had never been to a campground that had garages and a small junkyard.  The “hill” was a strange little mound, and after stumbling around with our lanterns, Teresa found a flat place by a picnic table and we set the tent up.  There were a couple of quiet campfires going and someone volunteered their lantern.    We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean and foghorns.

In the morning light, it was clear that this was a pretty funky campground.  We also realized that they had coin operated showers.  I had two quarters with me, which allowed me a pretty thorough soap down and that’s about it.  Left my long hair to be washed later.

We packed up and headed out soon afterwards.  One of the many miracles of this trip was the fact that Teresa was able to get the tent back into its bag.  There is photo evidence in the gallery.

Here’s the scorecard on Hidden Pines:

1) Grounds and facilities – funky, old, neat but not overly clean

2) Location and staff – outstanding.  Did I mention that they called me back during a busy holiday weekend? If I ever have chance to camp again in that area, I will go there definitely – just because genuine niceness should be rewarded.

2 Responses to “A Night in Fort Bragg”

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  1. […] A Night in Fort Bragg | Destination:TBA. This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged camping, Fort Bragg, road trip. Bookmark the […]

  2. […] weekend, no less. It reminded me of the time that Teresa and I went on a camping road trip over 4th of July with no reservations. Somehow something always came […]


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