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LODGING: In Mendocino, the Agate Cove Inn (11201 N. Lansing St., 800-527-3111, www.agatecove.com) has rooms starting at $139, including breakfast; each room is part of a cottage. Other lodging options include the MacCallum House Inn and Restaurant (45020 Albion St., 800-609-0492, www.maccallumhouse.com), with doubles from $135, including breakfast. For more lodging info: Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce, 707-961-6300, www.mendocinocoast.com.

In McCloud, the McCloud River Inn B&B (325 Lawndale Court, 800-261-7831, www.riverinn.com) has doubles from $82, including breakfast. The inn also offers a fishing package for two: $375 gets you one night, plus breakfast or dinner, and a day of guided fishing with lunch (fishing guides charge around $300 per day, so this is a good deal). For more lodging info: Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce, 800-926-4865, www.mtshastachamber.com.

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In Downieville, we stayed at the Lure Resort (Highway 49, 800-671-4084, www.lureresort.com), with rustic "camping cabins" from $55 a night and cabins with full amenities from $90. Other options include the Carriage House Inn (110 Commercial St., 800-296-2289, www.downievillecarriagehouse.com), with doubles from $70 per night (includes continental breakfast on weekends) and full homes from $150 per night.

WHERE TO EAT: We found the best and most varied dining options in Mendocino. Dinner at Cafe Beaujolais (961 Ukiah St.) is a must. The fresh sturgeon is a winner, the wine list is local and thoughtfully chosen, and the candlelit atmosphere is divine (although dress is casual). Entrees from $22. The MacCallum House (see above) is another top choice, with a varied menu of seafood, pastas, creative salads and meat dishes from $14.

The Trinity Cafe (622 N. Mount Shasta Blvd.) in Mount Shasta is a romantic little restaurant featuring steaks, lamb shank and braised chicken; entrees from $16. In McCloud, Raymond's Italian (424 Main St.) is a family-friendly Italian spot serving lunch and dinner. Entrees from about $10.

The best restaurant we found near Downieville was 12 miles away. The Buckhorn, on Sierra City's Old West Main Street, has a peaceful garden with a stream. The food -- pasta, steaks and chicken dishes -- was good but not sublime, but the scenery is worth it. Entrees from $12.

WHAT TO DO: In Downieville, we rented our bikes from Yuba Expeditions (105 Commercial St., 530-289-3010, www.yubaexpeditions.com), which offered full-suspension Santa Cruz bikes starting at $55 per day (multi-day discounts available). Serious riders: Bring your own pedals; rentals come without toe clips or clip-less pedals. The shop sells little gear, so don't plan on buying cycling necessities there.

We arranged our McCloud River fly-fishing outing through the McCloud River Inn (see above). Also try the Fly Shop (4140 Churn Creek Rd., 800-669-3474, www.theflyshop.com) in nearby Redding.

In Mendocino, we rented an outrigger canoe from Catch a Canoe and Bicycles Too (Highway 1 and Comptche Ukiah Road, 707-937-0273, www.catchacanoe.com), which also offers standard canoes, kayaks and mountain bikes, from $12 to $25 an hour.

INFO: California Tourism, 800-862-2543, www.visitcalifornia.com. -- John Briley

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