Redwood National Park
At Redwood National Park you would expect to encounter the hush of the fragrant ancient forest along a trail softened by years of accumulated duff. But how about the blast of sea wind along a rocky, dramatic coast? Or an open oak savanna hillside? You can have all of these hiking experiences at Redwood National Park.
Redwood National Park is not a huge wilderness park, generally not the destination for a multi-day backpack. Plan on day hikes, at most an overnighter. The California Coastal Trail is the one long-distance trail that passes through the park. The Coastal Trail is a 1,200-mile wonder that follows the shoreline from Oregon to Mexico. But most of this trail is near roads, making hiking segments a doable proposition. At the other extreme, the park's many nice and easy nature trails are a varied delight. Since they usually come loaded with interpretation, the nature trails offer a good introduction to the environmental wonders of the park.
The park produces an excellent brochure detailing trails. Pick one up in any of the park's visitor centers.
We've picked out some favorite trails.
This is the wildest area of the park, with the largest roadless area and the tallest trees. If you're looking for an overnighter, this is the area of the park for you. See a map of Redwood National Park south area.
Short and Easy Nature Trails
Lady Bird Johnson Grove This easy, one-mile trail follows an old logging road through a mature redwood forest. This trail is wheelchair accessible and not far from Orick and the Redwood Information Center. The trail's parking area is reached via steep Bald Hills Road.
Fern Canyon Trail This 0.7-mile loop is well-named: The hiker is treated to a display of many fern species. The trail connects to the James Irvine Trail for a longer hike. The trail takes off from the Coastal Trail not near Gold Bluffs Beach, which offers a campground.
Circle Trail This short 0.3-mile trail provides a walk near the Big Tree, one of the largest trees in the park. The trail head is close to the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.
James Irvine Trail A 4.2-mile that follows a canyon along lush streams through dense redwood forest in the Prairie Creek area of the park.
Lost Man Creek This can either be a short hike or an all-day affair: It's two miles to second bridge, eight miles to Bald Hills Road, which is reached via Holter Ridge. The first portion to the second bridge is wheelchair accessible.
Tall Trees Trail Short 1.2-mile trail to the park's legendary tallest trees. The drive to get to the trailhead can be a little hairy, and the access road is by permit only.
Dolason Prairie This 4.7-mile trail explores the often overlooked savannah environment of the park. This trail connects to the Emerald Ridge Trail, which takes off from the same trailhead as the Tall Trees Trail.
Redwood Creek This 8 1/2-mile trail explores the wonderful canyon that was the object of the park's preservation struggle. It's an excellent way to get close to this magical environment. Proves it's worth it to struggle.
James Irvine Trail/Miner's Ridge Loop Our pick for a good all-around trail at Redwood. You get your old growth forest, you get your views, you get your wild coastline. You get a little bit of heaven.
The north area is more roaded and closer to Crescent City, the hub community for this part of California. See a map of Redwood National Park north area.
Short Nature Trails
Yurok Loop Trail This trail interprets the culture of the indigenous Yurok people be sure to pick up a trail brochure. The Yurok loop follows an ancient path above the sea, from where you can see three large sea stacks that are sacred to the Yurok. The trail is not far from the Redwood Hostel along Highway 101.
Leiffer Loop and Ellsworth Loop Trails A serene trail in Jedediah Smith with mossy paths and lots of benches. Romance is in the air.
Alder Basin Trail This easy, one-mile trail in the eastern part of Del Norte Coast offers good fall color, a rarity in California.
Damnation Creek This ancient Yurok trail in Del Norte Coast is a short but challenging excursion that passes through dense Douglas fir, redwood, and Sitka spruce forest to the mouth of Damnation Creek. Besides being a botanical delight, this trail is one of those that offers intriguing shifting views. The trail takes off north of False Klamath Cove.
Little Bald Hills This 9.5-mile trail is a good way to experience the transition from coastal redwoods to high country Jeffrey pine forest. The trail starts in Jedediah Smith southwest of Hiouchi. There's a campsite near the end of the trail.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication