The Skunk Train: Take a dog-friendly train ride in California

Don’t get skunked by the Skunk Train

Skunk Railbikes with dog carrier. Photo by Robert Jason Pinoli.
Skunk Railbikes with dog carrier. Photo by Robert Jason Pinoli.
For more than 130 years, this No. 1 vintage excursion train in California (it started out as a logging train carrying cargo and workers) has traveled through Northern California redwood forests. These days, there are two departure points — Fort Bragg, on the Mendocino Coast, and Willits, inland off Hwy. 101. The original name was the California Western Railroad, and has been known as the “Skunk Train” since 1925.

That’s when self-propelled motorcars with stinky, gasoline-powered engines and coal-fired stoves were introduced, giving birth to a nickname that has stuck ever since (even though today’s steam or diesel-powered locomotives don’t stink).

Choose from two routes: The Pudding Creek Express makes a 7-mile, 75-minute journey from Fort Bragg on the railway’s original 1885 route. Passengers can hop off to marvel at the redwoods and roam the trails at Glen Blair Junction before circling back to the coast.

From Willits, the two-hour Wolf Tree Turn route tops a 1,740-foot summit, chugs through a historic tunnel and descends into the redwood-shaded Noyo River Canyon, with a pause midway to ogle one of the state’s biggest trees.

Please be considerate of your pet! Bring a leash, water and whatever else you might need for the journey.

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Posted on: June 15, 2022

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