An easy drive into the mountains of Del Norte County provides spectacular views of rivers, lakes and even the ocean.

A loop drive will take explorers to the top of Gordon Mountain with an elevation of more than 4,000 feet where the Pacific Ocean can be seen 21 miles away.

The drive begins at South Fork Road off Highway 199 east of Hiouchi. Follow the road, which is County Road 427, along the South Fork Smith River. Several river accesses can be found along the way.

One of several side roads can be found about 10 miles up the road. This rough road will take the explorer to an alpine lake.

The drive continues alsong South Fork Road and turn left on a gravel road pointing toward Dry Lake. This is County Road 405. Several Smith River National Recreation Area campgrounds are found along Hurdy Gurdy Creek.

After passing Dry Lake, the road makes a long ascent to the top of Gordon Mountain. To the west are vistas as far as the horizon. To the east, the views are blocked by the higher Ship Mountain. This mountain, which has four peaks, is often snow-covered in the winter and can be seen from Crescent City.

The road turns west and becomes French Hill Road (County Road 411), and descends to the community of Gasquet. Highway 199 completes the loop to Hiouchi.

The loop, without side-road excursions, is approximately 48 miles, 28 of which are gravel.