Picnicking is an old-timey pleasure that never goes out of fashion. Perhaps that's because enjoying a meal upon a cheerful blanket is a must-have image in any couple's romantic montage. Picnics also appeal in the later stages of the relationship, when the new parents discover the exhaustion of wrangling children into restaurant booths.

Not that a picnic requires a companion of any kind: Eating a sandwich with nothing but the crunch of a potato chip to distract you from your solitary thoughts can be a perfect way to enjoy a stunning vista — and it may earn you some envious glances from the parents who are shepherding their children down the trail.

However you choose to enjoy your picnic, if you are looking for easy access day trips that offer extraordinary views, then these spots are sure to satisfy.

click to enlarge Fleener Creek Overlook - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • Fleener Creek Overlook

Fleener Creek Overlook

This is a gorgeous bluff perched on the edge of the Lost Coast Headlands. The road out to Fleener Creek rambles through green fields, arriving at Centerville Beach on the coast. Turning up to the headlands, you'll pass under a white cross which leans precariously over the road. The cross commemorates the SS Northerner shipwreck of 1860, when the captain ran his ship aground in an attempt to save the lives of his 108 passengers and crew. Locals risked their own lives to rescue the survivors, helping to save 70 out of the 108 aboard.

Upon reaching the turnout and stepping onto the bluff, one cannot help but be awed by the vast, windswept view of the ocean, so delicately laced in white surf and yet powerful enough to swallow ships whole. Crab fishermen, who still grapple with the ocean every day, ply their pretty white boats upon the horizon and far below, a farmhouse appears as tiny as a toy, with its fields backed right up to the gray sand. Enjoy the expansive vistas at the picnic table provided upon the bluff or, if it's too windy, head down the steep trail to the more sheltered beach below.

To Get There: Start in the town of Ferndale and turn onto Ocean Avenue, which becomes Centerville Road. Continue on this road for 6 miles until you see the Bureau of Land Management sign for the Fleener Creek Overlook trailhead and parking lot.

In the Basket:

Gentlemen's Hardware cheese board and knife set with wine opener, $32.
Plaza, Arcata

Fieldbrook Winery Rosato di Sangiovese.
Fieldbrook Market, Fieldbrook or

Fieldbrook Winery Sauvignon Blanc.
Eureka Natural Foods, as well as most other area wine retailers.

Kumamoto oysters, $8.50 per dozen.
Coast Seafoods, Eureka

Dungeness crab, Henry's Lemon & Garlic Olives, Wild Mushroom pate, Cypress Grove Sgt. Pepper 4 oz. disk of goat cheese, Humboldt Hot Sauce Emerald Sauce, Organic pears, apples, cashews and pumpkin seeds, compostable plates and bamboo utensils.
Eureka Natural Foods

click to enlarge The Fortuna Riverwalk - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • The Fortuna Riverwalk

The Fortuna Riverwalk

The ultimate in quick exit, easy-access picnicking. The parking lot is steps away from the picnic tables, which are sheltered under an arbor with a view of the Eel River bending toward the sea. A great place to set up a hibachi, followed by a walk scented with wild fennel and adorned with an abundance of imperturbable cows. The elevated trail is well maintained and perfectly flat, with occasional opportunities to make your way down to the river's edge. This is the place to go for a leisurely picnic under a big sky — or merely to enjoy a quick stretch of the legs.

To Get There: Take the South 12th Street exit from U.S. Highway 101 and head west to the River Lodge Community Center.

click to enlarge The Fortuna Riverwalk - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • The Fortuna Riverwalk

In the Basket:

Vintage camp blanket, $95.
Daisy Drygoods, Arcata

Picnic baskets from $10.
Discovery Shop, Eureka

Snackmaster cooler, $40.
Humboldt Flea Market - Redwood Acres, Eureka

Mary's free range chicken, Blackberry Bramble Texas Red BBQ Sauce, Mad River Brewing Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, Organic veggies and watermelon, Beck's Bakery whole wheat sliders and Crostini, Humboldt Honey, Loleta Cheese Factory Queso Kings Habanero White Cheddar and 1906 Artisan Fabulous Fontina
Northcoast Co-op - Eureka and Arcata

click to enlarge AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler

The Eureka Waterfront Trail

The trail has been the source of a lot of excitement among locals since it has opened up stretches of bay that were previously inaccessible. The newest section begins at the edge of the Eureka Slough and leads back towards the Eureka Waterfront. Start at the slough — once used to float massive redwood logs to mills on the bay — and watch as geese swoop to land among the egrets foraging in the marshy grass. Not only does this section of trail offer several benches on which to picnic, it also offers the chance to walk on abandoned railroad tracks: Step up onto the railroad bridge and follow the splintered ties right out over the bay. Look over the side and watch for drifting jelly fish. A seal just may pop up and return your curious stare.

Continuing westward along the trail, you'll pass the stooping, ancient stumps of piers gathered together like old men standing knee-deep in the bay, with seagulls roosting in their mossy hair. The sound of lapping water will accompany you as the prickly masts of Eureka's working harbor appear in the distance. At the base of the brick amphitheater, there are picnic tables perfect for popping open a thermos. You can head into Old Town for a cup of coffee or perhaps continue on the Humboldt Bay Trail as it skirts the edge of the bay. With this newest addition, it's now possible to travel by trail from Eureka Slough to Hikshari' Trail, which is just opposite the entrance of Humboldt Bay. But that's a distance of approximately 6 miles, so just be sure you've packed a picnic hardy enough for the journey!

To Get There: From U.S. Highway 101, turn south on West Avenue, then take a left on Tydd Street. Look for the entrance of the trail just before the Eureka Community Health and Wellness Center.

In the Basket:

Vintage thermos, $15.
Daisy Drygoods, Arcata

Picnic baskets, $7. Tablecloth, $5.
The Hospice Shop, Arcata

Old-Fashioned dishcloth "napkins," four for $9.50.
Golden Gait Mercantile, Ferndale

Bring It! cookbook by Ali Rosen
Plaza, Arcata

"Grampa Goren" lox and bagel, "Casey's Thai" bagel, coffee and Little River Farm's green salad.
Los Bagels, Eureka

Little Thief Beer & Blaze Mustard
Plaza, Arcata

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