This is a segment from a television series on the Skunk Train.
Great Scenic Railway Journeys is an Emmy-Award winning public television series that profiles some of the worlds most historic and scenic tourist railways. The video clip above is a segment of the show featuring Fort Bragg’s very own Skunk Train. You can learn more about the history of the Skunk Train, and the part it has played in the Mendocino County economy, as well as in the tourism industry.
Looking for something fun to do with your whole family, or a group of friends or work colleagues? Enjoy an adventurous train ride through the redwoods, hills, tunnels, and beautiful countryside of rural Mendocino County, for a half day or longer.
The Skunk Train line runs about forty miles, from Fort Bragg on the Mendocino Coast, inland to Willits, which is located on U.S. Highway 101. Along the way, the tracks cross 30 bridges and trestles and pass through two deep mountain tunnels. The half-way point of Northspur is a popular lunch spot, giving passengers a chance to snack before continuing to Willits or heading back to Fort Bragg. Enjoy the open observation car, as the train passes through beautiful stretches of old-growth redwoods.
As mentioned on the Skunk Train web site, regardless of your departure point, the view from the Skunk Train’s restored rail cars is pretty much unchanged from the late 1800s. Departing from Fort Bragg, the first few miles are along the Pudding Creek estuary, where common wildlife sightings include blue heron, egrets, osprey, ducks, and the occasional lounging turtle.
After passing through Tunnel No. 1, the Skunk Train snakes its way along the Noyo River, zigzagging through the redwood-thick Noyo River Canyon. Departing from Willits and traveling to Northspur, the train will climb the Eastern slope of the California Coast Range, cutting through it at Tunnel No. 2 (Summit) before descending into the Noyo River Canyon. This is the mountainous part of the railroad line, in which 8.5 miles of track cover a straight-line distance of less than one mile.
There are a number of special occasion and special theme train rides. An upcoming one is the Father’s Day BBQ.
You can check for available train trips and special events and book your own trip by consulting the online calendar.
One special opportunity is to join a train trip with camping on the Noyo River! Journey by rail to a historic logging camp in the rugged and scenic Noyo River Canyon. Accessible only by train, Camp Noyo is a world unto itself – with eight private campsites and a river view chalet, this is a well-equipped camping wonderland. The river offers opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and more. Camp Noyo is available from April through October every year.
There is a whole list of year-round holiday and special theme train ride experiences:
- Half Day to Northspur
- Pudding Creek Express
- Crab and Wine
- Camping on the Noyo
- Mother’s Day Brunch
- Father’s Day BBQ
- Grand Ole Time
- Zombie Train: Evacuation
- Pumpkin Express
- Ride in the Cab
- Easter Egg Express
- Sunset BBQ Excursion
- Magical Christmas Train
There have been other one-of-a-kind adventure trips offered from time to time. Skunk Train Owner Robert Pinoli and Liquid Fusion Kayaking’s founders Cate Hawthorne and Jeff Laxier teamed up in 2010 to create a unique experience for lovers of California redwoods. Dubbed Tracks to Kayaks, it’s the adventure of a lifetime!
You can sign up for any of the Skunk Train trips and reserve a space online — or, if you’re in downtown Fort Bragg, come directly to the Skunk Train Depot, or give them a call.
Location of the Fort Bragg Skunk Train Depot:
100 W. Laurel Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Phone: 1- (866) 457-5865