Humboldt Lagoons State Park lies on the sandy, windswept edge of ocean and forest. Formed by the clash of two tectonic plates, it's part of the largest lagoon system in the United States.
Forty miles north of Eureka, the park includes Big Lagoon, Stone Lagoon and Freshwater Lagoon, as well as Dry Lagoon, which is now a marsh, bordered by dunes, forests, prairies and coastal scrub. With such varied habitats, wildlife thrives. On a single visit, you can see whales and elk, trout and salmon, pelicans and woodpeckers.
Visitors can hike the California Coastal Trail and paddle, swim and fish at the lagoons. There's even a paddle-in and hike-in campground in the forest at Ryan's Cove and kayaks and paddleboards for rent at Stone Lagoon Visitor Center. In May or early June, take a short drive up Stagecoach Hill to see the blaze of color along Azalea Nature Trail.
In the early 1900's, Dry Lagoon was drained by early farmers; several types of crops were attempted but none proved economical. Several dairy ranches were established along the shores of Stone Lagoon. Today the marshland habitat has returned to support a rich variety of marsh plants, birds and other animals. The park offers boating, fishing and hiking with day-use only picnic areas.