Top Ten National Parks for Biking

Redwood National Park
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We all feel the need for speed now and again—rides where we spin hard, our eyes on the road, paying no attention to the scenery whizzing by. California's Redwood National Park isn't the place for that. These old-growth coastal redwoods are the tallest living things in the world. Some reach their 2,000th birthday as they rise toward 300 feet. Spruce, hemlock, and Douglas-fir add to the forest canopy, while mosses, ferns, and rhododendrons decorate the floor. Pedal through a redwood grove on a quiet, foggy morning and you'll feel like you've entered a fairy-tale kingdom. So gear down, keep your head up, and soak up the magic.

On the Road

To really get a sense of how tall these trees are, head north from Prairie Creek Visitor Center on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. The wide, straight road lets you take in the full height of the redwoods ahead and keep your fellow cyclists in view. Seeing your riding buddy absolutely dwarfed against these giant trees will blow your mind. Don't miss the 304-foot Big Tree—about a mile down the road and just a short hike off the trail.

The parkway runs beneath the cool, shady canopy of old-growth giants. With moderate climbs—and one steep stretch—on the eight miles out, you'll enjoy an easy coast back to the start. Ride a little further south to hit the Elk Prairie overlook—you may spot Roosevelt elk grazing below.

Hit the Trail

You might ride the Prairie Creek/Ossagon Trail Loop in order to spy elk, to cruise along the coast, or to pedal beneath the towering redwoods. Scenery aside, this route travels via pavement, dirt, and—wonder of wonders—single-track! After duplicating the out part of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway's out-and-back, the ride heads coastward along the Ossagon Trail. You'll cruise through thick redwood and alder forest, then emerge oceanside beside scenic Gold Bluffs. When the single-track splits, choose the fork less traveled—by the grazing elk herds, that is. Maneuver around elk and cars and pedal along, taking in the ocean views. It's a long ride (19.1 miles), but the hills won't kill—they're either long and gradual or short and steep.



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