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Paddle one of “the rarest vessels in the world” on this meaningful river experience

A Yurok redwood canoe sits empty on the Klamath River. The canoe, paddles and stools are all hand- crafted.
The Yurok offers redwood canoe tours on the Klamath River. The canoe, paddles and stools are all hand-crafted by tribal members.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning, fellow Escapists. Where have you been traveling this summer? As always, I welcome destination recommendations, so send me a message if you’d like to share.

This week, you’ll find novel experiences to try across California, including a canoe trip in far Northern California in one of the “the rarest vessels in the world” and a visit to a stunning redwood grove in Orange County.

There’s also a blue cheese ice cream sandwich mentioned in this edition of Escapes that you won’t want to miss — as well as a recently reopened chapel on the Palos Verdes Peninsula that deserves a spot on any L.A. County travel bucket list.

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🛶 Paddle the Klamath River with “the rarest vessels in the world”

The Yurok tribe’s dugout canoes are “the rarest vessels in the world,” Sammy Gensaw, a guide for the tribe’s fledgling canoe tour business, told Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds on a recent visit north.

Reynolds recently visited California’s Del Norte County, 40 miles south of the Oregon border, to experience life along the river and learn about the tribe.

“To a newcomer in a canoe, like me, the lower Klamath River can seem a flawless natural wonder, with willows, alders, fir and cottonwood crowding its banks,” Reynolds writes. ”Redwoods march up the slopes. Yes, there’s a drought on, but here you hear birdsong and smell the wet forest.”

The Yurok are welcoming visitors aboard their canoes in order to bolster their heritage and economy, Reynolds reports. “This tourist thing is perpetuating our culture,” said wood carver David Severns.

Josh Norris, who manages the canoe tour operation, said he hopes to expand his tour options to include overnight trips that explain the connection between the Yurok trail system and waterways.

Two-hour tours cost $125 per person and are offered Wednesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. They can be booked online.

Two canoes and their passengers float by willows, alders, fir and cottonwood trees on the banks of the Klamath River.
The lower Klamath River can seem a flawless natural wonder, with willows, alders, fir and cottonwood crowding its banks.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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🧀 Taste your way along Northern California’s cheese trail

Northern California isn’t just home to wine country anymore — now, it’s becoming known as “wine-and-cheese country.” Times contributor Kazz Regelman recently wrote about her visit to Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties, where cheese tourism is taking off alongside the famed vineyards.

“Just as wines put Napa and Sonoma counties on the map in the 1970s, farms there and in neighboring Marin County are attracting attention with tours and classes on cheesemaking,” Regelman writes, “as well as offering tasting tables groaning under the weight of cow, goat and sheep cheeses.”

Interested in sampling some cheese next time you’re up north? Take a look at the California Cheese Trail’s website, which offers a map of dairy farms, route suggestions and other tips for making your cheese-tasting dreams come true.

One last thing: Ice cream lovers, don’t miss the opportunity to try the blue cheese ice cream sandwich, made with gingerbread cookies, at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.

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Illustration of state of California made out of cheese.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

⛰️ Hike the 12 best trails in Orange County

Don’t sleep on Orange County’s hiking scene.

Times assistant travel editor Mary Forgione recently curated a list of the 12 best trails in Orange County, which she calls “the hiking gem you need to know.”

One area she chose to highlight? Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, which happens to be a great place to spot the tallest trees on Earth.

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The park is home to a grove of 241 coastal redwoods, the largest group of its kind in Southern California. You can enjoy the grove on a two-mile, dog-friendly loop through the park, which takes visitors alongside shrubs and walnut trees before reaching the towering giants.

Parking at Carbon Canyon Regional Park costs $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends. The trail to see the redwoods is accessed from the south parking lot.

Two visitors hike on a dirt bath between wood fencing.
Visitors hiking in Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which is a great place to spot the tallest trees on Earth.
(Matt Pawlik)

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Catch the view from a glass chapel

Earlier this year, I asked readers for their favorite architectural destinations in Southern California. Stephen Tetzlaff wrote to suggest Wayfarers Chapel — and after a lengthy closure due to the pandemic, the chapel is now open to visitors.

The striking glass church, completed by architect Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1951, sits high above the water on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Inside the chapel, it feels as though you’ve entered a midcentury treehouse surrounded by pines and redwoods. The ocean views from the chapel’s grounds are hard to beat.

The Wayfarers Chapel and grounds are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Visitors Center is open Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no charge to visit.

A plant is in the foreground of a photo of a tall columnar building with a cross on top
The Wayfarers Chapel sits high on the Palos Verdes Peninsula overlooking the Pacific.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

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📰 What I’m reading

  • Californians can get their Real ID driver’s license without a DMV visit. Christopher Reynolds explains how.
  • Florida reopened to tourists early. Now, California is trying to catch up, writes Times business reporter Hugo Martín.
  • National parks are embracing Indigenous astronomy, reports Stephanie Vermillion in Outside Online.
  • A lake in Rome, which shouldn’t even exist, has become an urban refuge and catalyst for activism. Lidija Pisker covers the accidental lake in Atlas Obscura.
  • Will travel save — or destroy — the Maldives? Lisa Abend explores this question in AFAR.
  • There’s a “mini Yellowstone” in California. Ashley Harrell explains where to find it in SFGATE.
Illustrated California driver's license showing the Real ID golden bear and star insignia.
(Tess Richards / For The Times)

📸 Photo of the week

Two surfers walk along Crescent City's coastline at dusk
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

🎸 Road song

“Ride Out in the Country” by Yola is an ideal soundtrack for anyone hoping to clear their mind while on the road this weekend. Safe and happy travels ✌️

A car hugs the road on a mountain highway.
Yola’s “Ride Out in the Country” will help guide you to a clearer mind and good vibes.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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