Soak Up Some Gasquet History
The current footprint of Gasquet isn’t that far removed from its hectic beginnings. This redwoods oasis began as a critical supply village during the California gold rush. Horace Gasquet immigrated from France in the 1850s to strike it rich. He was quick to adopt the more stable venture of supporting mining operations with supplies, lodging and logistics. He purchased 320 acres of land between the north and middle forks of the Smith River in 1857. In the months to follow, the entrepreneur oversaw the frenzied construction of Gasquet Village, which included a hotel, bar, general store, blacksmith shop, and winery.
Gasquet became a thriving destination for the gold mining industry. In the years following village construction, Horace Gasquet would continue contributing to mining infrastructure by building one of the first mule trails to the interior of the state.
Fishing Around Gasquet
Fishing anywhere in Del Norte County is likely to yield smiles and a fresh catch. Cast in paradise along the Smith River. The only undammed river in California, it is protected as a Wild and Scenic River. Step into the calm current under an ancient canopy to plunk your hook in at Panther Flat Campground. Wade in around Craigs Creek Campground to reel in a trophy salmon or Steelhead. After a long day of fishing around the Grassy Flat Campground, peel off your waders and cool off in the swimming hole.
If you’re seeking salmon, plan to cruise the river late summer through early winter. For a fiesty Steelhead, fish from early winter through spring. Stormy weather approaching? Not to worry. The Smith’s waters have a reputation of clearing up in just a few days after a big storm. Most rivers take a week or two to clear up and get back to a fishable status.
Fishing on the Smith River is even better by boat to take in the immense landscape. And it’s best when you enlist a local authority to guide you to the perfect pool. Leave the gear behind and arrange a river adventure with any one of these licensed professionals:
Recreation Recommendations Around Gasquet
Swing into crystal clear waters off the Craigs Creek Bridge rope swing. There are a few cool swim spots off the Craigs Creek Trail, too. After a long day of exploring, recharge with a cannonball into the Panther Flat Campground swimming hole. This spot is accessible for the whole family and the color of the water calls to be photographed. A few miles past Panther Flat right before Kelly Creek is Sandy Beach swimming hole. Look for the sign along the road. Head downstream for a sandy retreat and a deeper pool. For a more serene swim complete with waterfall, walk upstream a bit.
Keep nature close long after the sun sets. Settle into your favorite camping chair alongside a roaring campfire at Grassy Flat Campground steps away from the Smith River. Panther Flats Campground offers some shady and secluded spots. Let the little ones wander a bit to pick huckleberries in the nearby picnic area. Enjoy the crisp morning at Patrick Creek Campground as you sip coffee and watch for woodpeckers, nuthatches and mergansers. Several spots boast views of the Smith’s emerald pools between the trees.
Hike Stony Creek
Go for a quick yet rewarding 1-mile jaunt on Stony Creek Trail off the Gasquet Toll Road. Admire vibrant vegetation including azaleas, carnivorous Darlingtonias and wild berries. Take a timeout along a secluded rushing creek. A quick climb and you’ll be gazing over the rugged river canyon of Smith River’s north fork.
Rafting and Kayaking
The Smith’s pristine water along with the soothing rush of its current invite you closer. Answer the call as you take a plunge with your raft crew down Class III whitewater rapids. Find your Zen as you raft through calm, flat emerald waters on the lower portion of the river. Let your paddle cut through greenish glass as you kayak around ferny forests and thirsty wildlife.
When is the last time you rafted down a beautiful river in costume to compete for prizes? If the answer is never, plan to swing into Gasquet in July for the annual Gasquet Raft Races. Tap your inner raft renegade, wearing a cape of course, cruising down the 2.5-mile course in an inflatable watercraft of your choice. No hardtops here! Reward yourself with a pit barbeque lunch, beverages and live music at the post-race party.
Find your whitewater tribe at BoatSmith, a downhill, whitewater festival held on the Smith River each February. There are tons of events to quench your thirst for river rides including kayak, raft, canoe, paddle board, and creature craft.
Get a Guide to Get the Most
Much like the previously mentioned fishing guides, renting gear from a local expert, and better yet, hiring them, is a great way to get the most out of your adventure. From epic rafting trips down the Smith to self-guided kayak tours to mountain bike shuttle service for a downhill thrill ride, these recreation aces will show you an unforgettable time.
- Redwood Rides offers kayak, bike and paddleboard rentals plus tons of tours including rafting, kayaking, biking, hiking, fishing and multi-sport.
- Smith River Kayaks offers all things kayak including full and half-day tours, fishing tours and rentals.
- Crescent Trail Rides offers guided horseback trail rides.
Gasquet Toll Road Scenic Drive
Follow the curves of history as you drift through the forests and panoramas of the Gasquet Toll Road. Developed in the 1880s to connect Crescent City to Waldo, Oregon, this 17-mile gravel trek was built over a 7-year period by Chinese-American laborers. Wagons and mule trains would travel back and forth to supply the mining, timber and livestock industries of Northern California. Admire the sweeping vistas of High Dome Meadow and the Siskiyou Mountains as you drive west to east. Stop the car and feel the big outdoors as you overlook the canyons of the Smith River. High clearance vehicles are recommended.
The Wildest Flower around Gasquet
Uncover a delicately dangerous flower that grows from a murky bog. The California pitcher plant ( Darlingtonia californica ) is a carnivorous plant that is only found in the unique soils of Northern California and Southern Oregon. Venture down the short Darlingtonia Botanical Trail at milepost 17.9 on Highway 199 to spy this rare plant species. Study the flower closely and you may see an insect crawl in and never escape. The Darlingtonia has special hairs that prevent insects from retreating, providing the flower much-needed nitrogen.
Visit the Historic Patrick Creek Lodge near Gasquet
Find refuge is a 1920s lodge, deep in the jungle-like redwoods. Patrick Creek Lodge’s sign says it all: Food. Booze. Snooze. Sleep soundly in a cozy room or cabin. Grab your tackle box and mosey just outside the lodge’s doors to reel in a cutthroat trout. Their massive stone fireplace will beckon you for an afternoon nap. Savor a spectacular Sunday brunch with your closest peeps. Sundays are really hopping at the lodge Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend with a weekly Gasquet Artisan Market.
Gather a group and let your souls soar through the redwoods and rushing waters around Gasquet. The fringe of Old California is calling.