How many days do you have to do this trip? Would make a lot of difference in giving suggestions.
Our trip will be 5-6 days
"We prefer staying in secluded, by-a-river-or-stream cabins along the way"
This might be possible in one or two locations but is really not the typical style of lodging in the area. This is mostly an upscale destination area and most accommodations are relatively expensive.
Do you know the specific towns or areas that you want to stay in?
Except for the North Coast Super. Actually though, there are places that feel secluded, but aren't really in the Humboldt & Del Norte area. Although, most people feel that the entire North Coast is secluded. People there say that they are 'behind the redwood curtain.'
With 5-6 days, a shorter loop including Napa, Sonoma, and the coast at Mendocino and south would make a more relaxed trip. Puter often recommends this place near Jenner. It get's very high marks on this site as well: http://timbercoveinn.com/ It's quite secluded and the ocean from just north of Fort Bragg south is very beautiful. The water is much clearer here (good for diving) than in Humboldt & Del Norte counties further north. I'm not sure the reason.
"Except for the North Coast Super"
If that's true runner, why is the only lodging you recommend the Timber Cove Inn which is a relatively expensive upscale hotel on the coast which proves my point and not the "secluded, by-a-river-or-stream cabins along the way" that the OP requested?
I do agree though with your itinerary. Going up to Mendocino via Hwy 1 and then coming back by Hwy 128 is a classic route that takes one along the coast, through some redwoods and also wine country.
There's a huge number of beautiful state parks in this area. Here's a link for them:
If you click on Hendy Woods, you will see some cabins along the Navarro River that you can stay in. However, you would need to bring sleeping bags or bedding with you.
I'm sorry Super, I consider the North Coast--capitalized-- to be Humboldt & Del Norte counties and no where else.
Ok guys - let's not scare Gail away :) This is a beautiful area and definitely worth visiting. The towns are pretty small, so no worries about crowds or anything. I can't give any lodging recommendations since we've only ever camped in this area, but it is an amazing place to visit.
For cabins in the woods, check out the state parks. Some have cabins, yurts, and other camping-alternative loding. Hendy Woods came up on a search on the State Parks web site for cabins - I don't have any personal experience with them, but it looks like an option for the cabin-in-the-woods.
Going as far north as Mendocino/Fort Bragg and combining it with Napa/Sonoma would make a very nice trip over 5-6 days. There are a lot of nice wineries along Hwy 128 just outside of Boonville - these are more off-the-beaten-track than Sonoma wineries, and definitely Napa - which it sounds like you make enjoy.
If you wanted to go further north instead, Humboldt County has a lot to offer - great coastline, huge redwood trees, etc. I don't think you'd have enough time to comfortably go that far north AND spend time in the wine country, but there are wineries sprinkled all around CA, so you could include wine with just about any itinerary.
Do you enjoy beer as well? There are a lot of small breweries along the northern CA coast and just inland.
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>> I don't think you'd have enough time to comfortably go that far north AND spend time in the wine country <<
My thoughts exactly :-)
You can see redwoods closer to San Francisco. Check out Armstrong Grove.
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