Weed, California: A Fun Stop en route to Crescent City

Day 57 (September 25)
Driving Day from Lassen Volcanic National Park to Crescent City

Our next destination on our Western road trip is Crescent City, California and the Redwood forests along Coastal Highways 1 and 101. After leaving Lassen Volcanic National Park, we stop for routine service at the Redding Subaru dealership, then hit I-5. Blue highways are always more interesting than the interstate, however this is a scenic stretch of I-5 and we enjoy the drive.

Hi-Lo Cafe and Motel mid century neon sign in Weed, California

The Hi-Lo Cafe

What prompted our stop in Weed was my web search for an interesting place to take a lunch break. The Hi-Lo Cafe in Weed (insert pot jokes here – they certainly do), which opened in 1951 and has been serving up classic diner fare ever since. The Hi-Lo is also a motel and RV park(ing lot). How convenient for the visitor whose huge meal or consumption of that herb that the town isn’t really named for causes him/her to be too sleepy to drive.

The Hi-Lo Cafe is the kind of place where one is greeted immediately upon walking in the door by a friendly waitress calling from across the counter “Sit anywhere you like. Would you like some iced tea?” It is really, really good tea (and coming from the south, we know our iced tea). Things just get better from there.

Just look at these old-school placemats. When did you last see a customized paper placemat? Total 70’s throwback!

Hi-Lo Cafe and Motel in Weed, California paper diner placemat

I do not often post pictures of food, however this place warrants some obnoxious oversharing. Deal with it. Robert orders some kind of meat and three or burger (memory escapes me). I have a massive club sandwich which, because we’re in California, comes with avocado of course. Fresh and tasty.

Classic diner fare at the Hi-Lo Cafe and Motel in Weed, California

We typically eat too much and leave no room for desert, and today is no exception. Except we order a piece anyway, once we find out that one of the waitresses makes all of the pies from scratch. There are several types to choose from, and we agree on cherry because that is the king of pies…the highest flavor in the pierarchy (pie/hierarchy). Like that? Robert made it up, but apparently someone else did too because I just checked and it’s in the urban dictionary. It’s one of words those that isn’t a word but should be a word. Because pie is worthy of its own ranking system.

Apologies –  we couldn’t refrain from a taking bite before I thought to make a picture.

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After our 384th Bigfoot sighting of this trip, with overstuffed bellies we are off to waddle around downtown Weed.

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Weed, California

The town of Weed, California is approximately 10 miles west/northwest of Mount Shasta, and from town there are views aplenty of the mighty mountain.

Soon after exiting the interstate, the visitor is welcomed into town by a few tourist shops such as The Weed Store, where all of your novelty weed needs are met in the form of t-shirts, license plates, and trinkets. Or so I’ve read – we did not take the time to stop in, and I forgot to take a picture.

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Underneath an old half-working simple neon sign for the florist shop, in faded black paint the phrase “Weed – a flower yet to be discovered. R.W.E. / V.V.D.” is still visible.  The paraphrased Ralph Waldo Emerson quote is quite the metaphor for the town itself, definitely interesting yet seemingly struggling to survive.

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John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men began with George and Lennie running away from Weed, where they had gotten into trouble. This faded lumber town just looks like a place to get into trouble, although it seems fairly quiet now.

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After walking around town, we contemplate having a hike at Castle Crags State Park and possibly even camping there for the night, however we decide to push on to Crescent City. Our plan to drive the scenic mountain route Hwy 96 through Happy Camp is derailed due to an active forest fire. Bummer.

Crescent City / Redwoods KOA

Arriving in Crescent City tired, sunburned, and ready for rest, we are re-engergized once we arrive at our home base for the next few days: the Crescent City / Redwoods KOA. As tent campers, we are offered the options of “camping in a field” or “being in some trees”, and of course we choose trees.

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Our jaws drop as we enter our loop of the campground, driving into dark, tall redwood forest dotted with huge campsites. We later read this is second-growth forest. This is national park level camping, with the added benefit of clean showers and laundry just a few minutes stroll away.

Camping in tall redwood forest at the Crescent City / Redwoods KOA

Campsite view at the Crescent City Redwoods KOA

 

RV sites at this KOA are your standard nice-but-small plots without much privacy, although they do have a bit of pretty landscaping between sites. From the van/tent sites in the forest, it is a long walk to the bath houses, but totally worth it! There are also a couple of “kamping kabins” nestled in the redwood grove.

Camping in tall redwood forest at the Crescent City / Redwoods KOA

Although it is only September, this area must already be off-season for tourists, as we have these acres of dense redwood forest campground almost completely to ourselves for the three nights that we spend here.

Camping in tall redwood forest at the Crescent City / Redwoods KOA

What fun we are having in Crescent City already, and all that we have explored is the KOA campground!

Once darkness falls, the harvest moon is barely visible through the trees, and I begin to understand why there are so many Bigfoot believers here. These woods can be quite spooky, particularly when one is out here alone.

Camping in tall redwood forest at the Crescent City / Redwoods KOA

Next stop: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park!

10 Replies to “Weed, California: A Fun Stop en route to Crescent City”

    1. I’m sorry to say that we did not get to take any of these hikes. However, I’m adding them to my wish list itinerary for a future trip. Thank you so much for the suggestions!

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  1. I grew up in Mount Shasta. Went to nursing school at College of the Siskiyous in Weed and had Blanche Weed as an instructor. She had married one of the original Weed brothers. I went to many movies in the old Weed theater!

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    1. Oh wow – what a beautiful place to grow up! That Art Deco Weed Theatre facade is beautiful. I wish we had been able to see inside. Hopefully it will be fully restored one day. I’d love to see the original neon replicated.

      Weed is an interesting place. The vibe that we got from our leisurely lunch at the diner was one of a tight but friendly community.

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    1. It is such a special park, isn’t it?! It was probably my favorite Redwoods park overall of the 6-7 we visited. So many people flock to the national park and/or the parks further south and miss out on this gem. That’s ok, because it makes for a quieter park for those who are in the know! We had wanted to camp there but of course the campground was full. It’s the only time on our entire trip that we weren’t able to camp in a park that we’d really wanted to.

      Unfortunately we did not get to spend any time actually on the Smith river, though we did parallel the river driving in and cross the gorge. We hiked to the water’s edge from the Stout Grove and hung out riverside for a few minutes. It is incredible!

      Thanks so much for your awesome comments, Ann. I love learning more about this magnificent area! — Marsi

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  2. Funny post! Several years ago on a leg from Reno to the coast (same journey that brought us through Lassen) we camped in a spot just like that. It wasn’t the KOA, I don’t think, but it had super tall conifers and the forest floor was blanketed in needles. It smelled so good. Probably in the same area!

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    1. Thanks – I’m glad you enjoyed it! If you ever think of the name of that camping spot under the tall trees, please let me know. I am always interested in finding campgrounds to my “must camp” list!

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