Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lost Coast Headlands -- Fleener Creek Overlook

Fleener Creek Overlook

After a very restful night at the Bear Valley Casino, we awoke to early clearing skies, and by noon we were sitting in a overlook, overlooking the great Pacific Ocean (after filling up with gas and taking care of the waste tanks).  The Fleener Creek Overlook is a sparsely used Overlook with beach access (not ADA access though) about 4 miles west of Ferndale, Ca.  The area has a beach, which is large and also not very crowded, and it is less than 12 miles from the casino, and about a mile south of Centerville County Park, which is shown on Google Maps.  (if you click link to the park you can see the where it is).

Fleener Creek Overlook

This is a panoramic view of the overlook…you can see our lone motorhome over by the telephone/electric wires tower (left middle of picture).  For much of our three hours, it was like this…but at times we had cars (no other RVs) which parked.  Some people walked down to the beach, which meant they were going to be there for at least 30 minutes, while others stayed for 5 to 20 minutes before leaving.  Fleener Creek OverlookSome had dogs, some were old, some were young.   And for those who like to boondock in odd or desolate places…there are no signs that say no camping, and this overlook is on BLM land and is joint effort of the BLM, State of California, Coastal Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund.  BLM has authority and control, but gives the Coastal Conservancy much input and power too. 

Farm near Fleener Creek Overlook

If you look closely at the first picture in this post, you can see a small farm.  Picture above is what it looks like up close.  They have a small herd of cows, and they located the house just behind a small hill to protect it from fierce winds that might come off the ocean during storms.  Not sure how safe they will be if there was a tsunami, but it is a great location otherwise.

Fleener Creek Overlook    Fleener Creek Overlook
Fleener Creek Overlook

This area of the Pacific Coast is at the very northern edge of what they call, “The Lost Coast”.  When California Highway 1 was created, they decided it was too costly to put the highway along the coast any further north than just above Rockport, so they turned east and stopped the highway at Leggett where it connects to US Highway 101.  From Rockport through to the Eureka area, the coastal area is very isolated, mostly natural and development-free.  King RangeShelter Cove, with a population of around 700 people, is at the southern end of the Lost Coast…I have a niece who happens to live there.  At the northern end is Fortuna, Eureka and Ferndale, with some very small, isolated little communities in between.  There are many little coves and beaches along the Lost Cost, and most of it is Federal Land.  The King Range National Conservation Area is the largest portion of these lands.  Above it is the Lost Coast Headlands…and this overlook is at the upper north section of the headlands.

Fleener Creek Overlook

I did a short walk…not down to the beach, but just down the trail a small bit, and then off to a side trail which heads to this large concrete platform.  Down below the platform is this formation…which is man made, but has been destroyed.  I did some research and found that in this area, and the Centerville Beach (pictures will follow later in this post) was the site of a Navy Base back in the 50’s. 

Centerville Beach Naval FacilityNaval Facility Centerville Beach was commissioned on 25 March 1958. From the original compliment of ninety-five personnel and sixteen buildings, it grew to 280 personnel and twenty-four major structures. The facility was located approximately 260 miles north of San Francisco and 100 miles south of the Oregon border. It was situated on thirty-seven acres of rolling pasture land on a 320 foot cliff overlooking the Eel River Valley to the North and bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the West. In addition to its operational responsibilities, NAVFAC Centerville Beach also marked the location of the Readiness Training Facility from 1978 to 1985. After weathering three earthquakes in 1992, NAVFAC Centerville Beach was re-terminated at NOPF Whidbey Island and decommissioned 30 September 1993 after nearly thirty-five years of dedicated service.  (Quoted from

Centervile Beach County Park

Above is a picture of Centerville Beach County Park, free access to the ocean and huge beach with few people there.  Much easier to get to than the beach at the overlook a mile south…but at the overlook you can have a beach all to yourself…where here you have to put up with more cars, more people, and what looks like a mile of beach.  Yes, you can drive along the beach…not in a motorhome, but with certain trucks and 4 wheel drives.  This was right between low and high tide, and during some high tides, the road gets wet, especially around the corner on the far right of the picture.

Eel Bridge
Eel Bridge    Eel Bridge

To get to the Centerville Beach County Park and the Fleener Creek Overlook, you have to pass through the town of Ferndale.  To get to Ferndale, you have to go over the Eel River…a fairly narrow two lane bridge.  For the most part, our right side mirror would be higher than the side rail…but there are about six taller concrete areas which would take the mirror out if I got too close.  As cars passed going the other way, they were close to my driver mirror.  I just went slow, about 20 mph, and we made it just fine.  As you get close to the Centerville Beach area, the road is in bad shape…a storm this past winter literally covered the roadway and they had to use heavy equipment to clear the sand and silt off the roadway, and they made some repairs to the road, but not enough.  We both had visions of being in the upper Yukon again from last summer…

Ferndale from Wikipedia

This picture of downtown Ferndale is from Wikipedia.  The town of Ferndale is just under 1,400 inhabitants, and contains dozen of Victorian style homes and storefronts.  Settled by white settlers in 1852, the area needed to be cleared of huge ferns, hence the name of the town.  Today the local economy is a mixture of dairies and ranching, agricultural support, retail and services.  The pictures below are of just a few homes that we took as we passed through.

Between beach and Ferndale, Ca     Between beach and Ferndale, Ca

These two homes above are between the beach and Ferndale.

Ferndale, Ca    Ferndale, Ca
Ferndale, Ca    Ferndale, Ca

We saw some even pretty homes…but they were on side streets and we were ready to get back to the Casino.  This time we parked further in the back at the casino, and had an even quieter night than the first night.  Today the fog/overcast is lasting a bit longer, but we will drive through Fortuna to view their Victorian homes.  It is Rodeo time for Fortuna, and we ran into a few barricades yesterday getting gas and dumping tanks (shell station in front of Safeway - free, but we needed gas too) for what I assume was a Rodeo Parade…hence the need to go today instead.  So far, we seem to enjoy sight seeing in our motorhome.


  1. Many sections of road all the way up are in the same shape. They just cleared the debris off and put up signs. No telling when they will be repaired. Love Ferndale ... there's a GREAT bakery there. Unfortunately, many of the other stores have gone out of business. Safe travels .....

    1. We were wrong about Fortuna having Victorian homes too, but we just returned to Ferndale...that will be in the next blog along with Eureka, which we pass through today.


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