UPDATING: Best and Worst Smells of Humboldt

Mike Dronkers / Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 @ 10:39 a.m. / Humboldt

What KHUM is  doing: live-cataloging Humboldt’s smells, from best to worst. 

What KHUM is looking for: Your suggestion for best/worst smells in Humboldt county. Specifically, current smells that are unique to our fair county. [I.e. Waffle cones smell great. But Arcata Scoop’s cones have a sublime palette of odoriferous emanations that only a local could discern.]

Methodology: Most of these have been crowdsourced by KHUM listeners, with spectral ranking loosely moderated by frequency of suggestion. We’ll adjust the list below periodically throughout the day.

Leave your best/worst smell in the comments. Extra credit for crisp descriptions. 



  • First rain of the season in the redwoods (LoCO Commenter’s Choice award)
  • Old growth forest (“burnt blackberries, with a note of forest litter” - KHUM Listener ‘Macho Dan’)
  • Lost Coast cedar trees near Petrolia
  • Woodsmoke trapped under a fog layer 
  • Mad River Brewery: (“hops, barley, malt all stewing in the Blue Lake sun”)
  • Porter Street BBQ
  • Eureka Books: that rich, antiquarian musk
  • Waffle cones at Arcata Scoop (also nominated: Redwood Yogurt & Living The Dream)
  • Botchie’s Crab Stand in Field’s Landing
  • Pierson’s Garden shop at Christmas time
  • Blue Ox (“smells like the ghost of redwoods”, says Viviana)
  • Larrupin’s BBQ Brisket
  • Old Town during coffee roasting
  • Ocean

  • Freshly washed-up eel grass

  • Marijuana
  • Humboldt Bay during crab season
  • Arcata Marsh at low tide.
  • Your neighborhood grow house(s)
  • Dairy air of Ferndale
  • Samoa Drag Strip on race day
  • Oysterfest Portolet (because alcohol & oysters)
  • Reggae on the River Portolet (because heat)
  • Hammond Trail, north of Mad River footbridge, where excrement-enhanced water is sprayed o’er the pasture
  • Patchouli mixed with non-deodorized body odor smell on an HSU student
  • Fortuna’s wastewater treatment plant. (s/0 to Puff n’ Tuff)
  • Retail rabbit urine from the rabbiteer who sells rabbit-fur stuff at the Arcata Plaza Farmer’s Market
  • That fish guttery on the waterfront in Old Town (LoCO Commenter’s Choice award)
  • Solids-settling tank at Arcata Marsh on a hot day 
  • Pulp mill (extinct, honorable mention)
  • Eureka Tallow Company, once located by the mouth of the Elk River (extinct, honorable mention)



Friends of the Dunes’ Suzie Fortner, mud advocate and tour guide, told KHUM exactly why. It’ll all make sense in under two minutes.  


[Rain photo: Kym Kemp, all others courtesy Lance Drill]

Country Club

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