Skunk Train / Photo: @Hamiltontheswissy
When visiting Fort Bragg
with your dog, there are two activities in particular you won’t want to woof out on. First is Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
, a dog-friendly, bluff-top showplace best known for rare species of rhododendrons that thrive few places outside Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. The gardens are just two miles south of town on Highway 1.
No. 2 attraction: The Skunk Train!
For 134 years, the historic lumber trains (named for the um, aroma emitted from the gasoline-powered rail-buses that were introduced in the 1920s) have been journeying through the redwood forests of Northern California, first for work and, since 1996, when a group of local investors purchased the former California Western Railway, just for play. The Mendocino Railway now operates on two routes, one out of Willits, the other out of Fort Bragg. Well behaved dogs are welcome on both runs. Trains are pulled by vintage steam engines or other locomotives on four-hour, 40-mile round trips from both depots. Heads up: Summer is high season for the Skunk Train; if you plan to go earlier, go online to read about the latest policies regarding the coronavirus pandemic.