I love trains; they are one of my favorite things to photograph and to ride. I have ridden many of California’s famous trains, but I never had the chance to ride the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg until a few weeks ago. This train is one of the most recognized in California, and it goes from the beaches of Fort Bragg into the coastal redwoods on its short track (it was longer, but the tunnel collapsed a few years ago and hasn’t reopened yet). Here is all the information on this fun experience.
- Cost: $25 for a ticket
- Hours: On the hour from 10 AM – 2 PM
- Location: 100 W Laurel St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
- This information was from my visit in 2018
- Read about my favorite spots along the Mendocino Coast here
The Skunk Train leaves from the Skunk Train Depot right in the heart of Fort Bragg. Heading north on Highway 1, you will turn left on Laurel St and will see the depot right in front of you. There is a large parking area next to it.
After parking, head into the depot and buy/pick up your tickets for the train. We got there 20 minutes early on a weekday, and it was not too busy, but I am sure during the summer it can be crazy.
You can browse all the Skunk Train related merchandise they have in store while you wait, or you can use your ticket for free entrance into the model train museum that is located behind the depot.
The Model Train Museum
This museum is small, but I love model trains, so I thought it was a blast to explore it for 10 minutes and to see all the intricate tracks they have going through the museum (they even go outside).
The people running the museum love to talk about the trains, so it was fun to hear about their passions as well.
The Skunk Train
After checking out the Model Train Museum, head back to Skunk Train and wait for them to begin the boarding process. Boarding is quick, and once you are on the train, you can go wherever you would like.
They have two indoor cars and one open air car in the middle. I spent most of my time in the open air car, and most people began in the inside ones and by the end, were outside as well.
There is a small cafe with food and drinks if you want to buy something during the ride.
The train started promptly at 1 PM and took the first 5 minutes to go through the city before trading the cars and houses for green trees and a small river.
The train goes slow at around 5 MPH so you can take the time to enjoy the scenery and walk around the train cars.
After about 20 minutes, you will get to a more shaded area of the track where coastal redwoods are sprouting up around you.
It was cool to see these redwoods lining the railroad tracks, and even though it is hard to photograph them as the train moves, it is fun to see them pass by on both sides of you.
Eventually, the train reached the end of the tracks (used to go all the way to Willits, but it was stopped when the tunnel had a cave in a few years ago), and it slowed to a stop then headed back the way it came. You are not able to get out, which is a bummer, but it is still a fun area to be in for 10 minutes as the train swaps directions.
Thirty minutes later, you will be back at the depot, getting off the train in the town of Fort Bragg again. I found the ride to be a fun experience and a great way to explore the area. If you have the time though, consider going on the railbikes which you can read about here and which my wife and I enjoyed even more. Let me know what you think of the Skunk Train if you have been in the comments.