GETTING THERE: We flew from D.C. to San Francisco (the closest major airport to Mendocino) and flew home from Sacramento (near Downieville). Northwest flies from Reagan National to San Francisco (via Memphis) and from Sacramento to Reagan National (via Memphis) for $243 round trip.

Other options: Fly into San Francisco and out of Reno, Nev. (about 100 miles from Downieville); round-trip fares start at $235. JetBlue also flies from Dulles to Sacramento and Oakland, starting at less than $200 round trip.

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.

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