Discover Mendocino’s inland empire

By: DogTrekker Staff

Many Mendocino County visitors stick to the Instagram-worthy sweep of coastline between Little River and Fort Bragg, but you can veer inland for different views. Interior Mendocino is dotted with redwood groves, wineries, off-the-beaten-path parks and small towns that extend a warm welcome to travelers with pets. Take Highway 101 north from Cloverdale to reach Ukiah, Willits and Leggett, where you’ll find the winding Eel River and an irresistibly kitschy roadside attraction: the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree Park.

As you head north on Highway 101, you’ll reach the beginning of Mendocino County’s wine country. The quaint and quiet historic town of Hopland is your starting point and as you continue to Ukiah and then to the Redwood and Potter Valleys, you will discover small family-owned tasting rooms where pets are considered part of the family. A DogTrekker favorite is Saracina Winery, where you can learn about organic grape farming and sample the goods in a shady picnic chair.

Among the Highway 101 attractions is the Willits terminus of the Skunk Train, Northern California’s best-known excursion railroad and a top attraction for families. A good place to spend the night in this neck of the redwoods is Baechtel Creek Inn and Spa in Willits. The proprietors will be happy to pack a snack, provide a map and point you toward a web of scenic, dog-friendly trails that follow old logging roads converted to hiking trails through the redwoods.