Traveler's Home Trail is a 3.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Covelo, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Starts and ends in the wild and scenic area of the Middle Fork Eel River. This trail is a bit hot and muggy during summer, but it's a nice low elevation dayhike in the fall, spring, and winter. There are plenty of picnic spots as the trail passes through stands of conifer, oak. glades, and meadows. Starting off the 24N2 forest road, you start descending right away on a single-track, rolling hill trail through a beautiful forest. You will wind your way through meadows and creek crossings, all of which make excellent rest and picnic spots. About half way through, the trail will get more technical as you go along the mountain face and start hiking down the numerous switchbacks that take you to the Eel River at the bottom of the mountain. There is a great meadow and campsite just before the Eel River with some fire rings and nice tent clearings.
Hunting for a suitable start to our summer backpacking season we decided on the Travelers Home trail in Mendocino National Forest. With a moderate trail rating and clocking in at only 12 miles we were planning on a relaxing weekend away.
It was going to be an early start in the morning since it is a ways out from home base so we got everything packed up and ready to go day before.
The next morning we hit the road with the windows down and the music blasting. Way up 101 we went and then finally turned in towards the trail. We parked by the trailhead and saw the sign with one thing in our minds What kind of animal eats signs?!
The trail starts down a gated off forest road and then after a mile or so, splits off to a single track for the remainder. Rolling hills through trees and over creeks was the scenery for the first bit, which then quickly opened up along a steep cut-in with amazing vista views.
The problem with being to see it all is the rain clouds we spotted creeping towards us, and quick! After a quick snack we got moving again and the weather broke. Each step brought a few more raindrops but no biggie, we had our packs covered and caution thrown to the wind. Most of trail so far had been moving at a very gentle grade moving parallel to the mountain ridge. That picture above showing the river far below shouldve had been our first clue, but with this trail ending at the Eel River, there had to be a drop to get us down the mountain. Well, we know nothing can be easy and this trip was no different, not that we were looking for easy.
The next section of trail was definitely the crux, and the escape plan was straight down. Just as the trail started getting muddy from the rain, we were headed down switchbacks that almost had us rolling over each other. A few points had us doing some very technical assisted descent sliding.
At the bottom of the descent, just on this side of a small ridge before the river, we found a great spot to setup camp in a beautiful green meadow with some decent tree coverage along the edge. First step was getting the tents setup in this crazy downpour. Not expecting the rain this weekend, we quickly found out how quick everything in your tent gets wet without a rainfly. He harnessed power from his inner Bear Grylls and showed the rain what he was made of. A few passes of the knife and some creative exterior decorating, the tent was now a proper sanctuary.
Not any sooner than we finally setup camp, the rain finally stopped. Just a little tease I guess, but it was fun while the rain lasted. Finally a quick, pack less hike to check out the river and get some more water for nice and warm dinner.
The next morning the sun was out and shining, pretending it hadnt left us for dead the day before. We enjoyed a restful brunch waiting for tents and clothes to dry before getting back onto the trail.
A quick jaunt up the switchbacks was the highlight of the afternoon and boy were we glad to get back on some ground that wasnt vertical. All in all, the trip was a success and taught us to be ready for anything and that fun will be had in any conditions.