Trippin’ with The Ganja Traveler: Land of Sohum and The Lost Coast 

land of sohum and the lost coast

Trippin’ with The Ganja Traveler Series is a guest series from Brian Applegarth,  founder of the Cannabis Travel Association.

Northern Mendocino County, The Land of SoHum (short for Southern Humboldt), and the majestic Lost Coast offer an extraordinary adventure that should be at the very top of any Ganja Traveler bucket list. This region is a cultural capital and place of source destination for cannabis.  The plant and the craft around it permeate throughout the entire community. This is the cannabis heartland, and the story of cannabis legalization and cannabis craft significantly influence the culture in a very special way.

As you traverse the 101 Redwood Highway, know that you are traveling ‘The Gauntlet,’ a nickname that is a nod to the cops versus outlaws’ history of the past. Similar to the stories of alcohol moonshiners and bootleggers, since the 1970’s vehicles have daringly traveled ‘The Gauntlet,’ dodging the law and distributing cannabis to the hub markets of the underground. This scenic-drive interstate is lined with towering redwood trees, winding rivers, and breathtaking vista views that will absolutely shift your state of mind.

As you enjoy discovering the Land of SoHum and The Lost Coast itinerary, lose track of time and keep plans fluid. While exploring this beautiful cannabis legacy region, be mindful and culturally sensitive. The War on Drugs’ past has a deep history that includes traumatic raids and military helicopters. Many community members have lingering PTSD from the war on drugs era. Embrace being a stranger in the strange land and approach the region with respect and curiosity while enjoying some of the best and finest craft cannabis in the world.

LAYTONVILLE: Welcome to cultivation country, where outlaw growers have filled these hills for decades, growing some of the most award-winning cannabis in the world. From Laytonville up to Sohum to the Lost Coast, rest assured that you are in the heart of the cannabis heartland, the cultural capital region of the Emerald Triangle. Icons like the late Frenchy Cannoli, Swami Chaitanya, and Kevin Jodrey call this region home. 

Mendo Trim Tools is a must-visit. This shop is legendary, having served the local outlaw cannabis cultivation community for decades with turkey bags and trim tools of all kinds. Just north of Laytonville, en route to the Land of SoHum you will find the iconic Area 101, a historic destination and Cultural Landmark along The Cannabis Trail. Make time for Area 101 and know that you are stepping on hallowed ground. It was here at Area 101 that cannabis legalization history happened. It is the place where the first debates happened between law enforcement and the underground cannabis community and it is the venue where the Emerald Cup was born

GARBERVILLE to REDWAY: As you enter Southern Humboldt, stop at One Log House and pop into the Cookies Treehouse Lounge.  As you head north to the tiny town of Garberville keep an eye out for the tree hugger Richardson Grove sign, a piece of art history and a point of interest along The Cannabis Trail that honors forest preservation activism and earth stewardship. Go ahead, join in with the locals and hug a redwood. 

Head north, and you will come upon Garberville and Redway, the sister towns of SoHum. In the quaint downtown of Garberville, notice the Hemp Connection sign on Main street, an important piece of United States hemp history that recognizes the work of sustainability pioneers Marie and Teresa Mills. This was the very first hemp shop in the nation, a radical idea at the time. Pop into the Southern Humboldt visitors center to view The Hemp Connection Cultural Landmark along The Cannabis Trail and ask about the important hemp history of Garberville. 

Find Country Club cannabis shop in Redway, a must-visit. This place is a favorite shop for the locals, always offering fresh, locally grown cannabis, hash, and craft products that are hard to find elsewhere.  Stock up. Book a guided tour with Humboldt Cannabis Tours and visit Huckleberry Hill Farms, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that any seasoned traveler would fully enjoy. Book your tour at least a month in advance and prior to your visit to Huckleberry Hill Farms and listen to the deep and rich cultural heritage of this legacy cannabis region. Enrich your travel experience by understanding what it took to protect and steward the cannabis plant under prohibition. Five Sisters Farm is a glamping style, riverside lodging option with cannabis plants and soaking tubs as part of the experience.

glamping tent in land of sohum
Five Sisters offer glamping experiences in the heart of Humboldt. Photo: Brian Applegarth

BRICELAND to the LOST COAST: Plan for two nights at The Inn of the Lost Coast and head west to Shelter Cove. Take it slow and steady as the road weaves and winds throughout the beautiful countryside. 

As you travel, know that these roads are where convoys once rolled during the height of the war on drugs era, when military helicopters flew overhead. The unique history of this region directly informs the culture today, and any traveler that makes their way to southern Humboldt needs to respect the sensitivities of the community. Many community members experienced trauma during the war on drugs era and to this day, the sound of helicopters trigger fear and PTSD from the many raids and arrests that happened here. As you head to Shelter Cove, learn about the history of the region from Bob McKee, the Father of Counter Culture

Stop in at Plant Humboldt, a cannabis nursery like no other on earth. Browse the many types of cannabis varieties and pick one or two to take home and grow yourself. Upon arrival, ask for a tour, as they are often willing to do so if they aren’t too busy. Consider booking a wine tasting at Briceland Vineyards and sip on vino while the winemaker shares stories of living in legacy cannabis country.

SHELTER COVE: A true paradise, Shelter Cove is an absolute hidden gem. Prepare to unplug and become one with the nature that surrounds you. The pristine beaches, the wild ocean air, sunsets and sea-life are all outstanding. Shelter Cove is my favorite place to stay in Humboldt County. I always plan for at least two nights. Mi Mochima is a great food spot serving up Venezuelan-style cuisine, while Gyppo Ale Mill has entertainment and good vibes alongside brew-pub-style burgers and bites. 

Find the cannabis-themed murals as you make your way to Gyppos front door. Plan for time at the beach and walk along the shoreline. Visit the tiny lighthouse, stargaze at night, and rekindle your sense of discovery by tide pooling on the ocean’s edge. When it comes to setting, it doesn’t get much better than Shelter Cove. Slow down, unplug, elevate, and reconnect with yourself and nature. Enjoy.

black sands beach in shelter cove
Black Sands Beach in Shelter Cove is a breathtaking spot and a can’t miss. Photo: Brian Applegarth

Ganja Traveler Tips

The Land of SoHum and The Lost Coast is a fantastic four-night, five-day itinerary. Two nights inland and two nights on the coast are recommended. Arcata Airport in northern Humboldt County or Santa Rosa Airport are gateway options for those arriving by plane. 

The Historic Benbow Inn is another great lodging option inland near Garberville. The Benbow Inn is an experience in itself. Humboldt Cannabis Tours is a must. Secure your tour booking far in advance. While on The Lost Coast, plan to relax and make time for cannabis-inspired journaling and discovering the black sand beaches on an early morning walk. It is nothing short of magical, watching the white water wash over the rocks. The setting of The Lost Coast invites you to slow down and make space for new ways of thinking and being:embrace it.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. A portion of this piece first appeared on The author is solely responsible for the content.

brian applegarth

is a cannabis travel writer and innovator with a passion for transformative experiences and cultural heritage. He has written for San Francisco Travel, Visit Oakland, Local Getaways, Skunk Magazine, Visit Greater Palm Springs, Visit Mendocino County, and others. He has been quoted in Forbes, The Washington Post, Smart Meetings, Travel Weekly and elsewhere, and his award-winning cannabis travel work has been featured on NPR, CBS, NBC, and The New York Times. Brian is the founder of the Cannabis Travel Association and the co-founder of the CA State Fair Cannabis Awards & Exhibit. He is a consultant to the travel and cannabis industries and a certified cannabis sommelier Ganjier. IG - @theganjatraveler