Walking through a redwood grove on a fog-shrouded morning can be an unforgettable experience. Sounds are reduced to the musical gurgle of water trickling amongst ferns and mossy rocks. Light ebbs with the somber mist and shafts of sun hang like cobwebs. Stillness and peace weave their spells upon the respectful traveler.
Walk, hike, bike, or horseback ride with over 200 miles of trails weave through a variety of environments, including prairies, old-growth redwood forests, and beaches. A wealth of trails exists in Redwood National and State Parks. There are 56 miles of foot trails in the national park and 108 in the state parks; 16 miles of national park trails and 40 miles of state parks are available to bicycles and 41 miles of national park trail are available to horses. Backpacking is also an option. Whether it's a day hike or backpack trip you are interested in, there is something available.
Elevations range from sea level to just over 3,000 feet (1,000 m). Consistently mild temperatures make year-round exploration a possibility. Be aware that trails in the redwoods are often wet and slippery, so bring rain gear for your hike. In winter, the Redwood Creek and Trestle trails may be difficult or impossible to use. Temporary bridges open these trails in summer but are removed for the rainy season. Access to Stout Grove from Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park campground exists only in the summer via seasonal bridges.
Please observe the following regulations:
Southern Area Trails
The southern part of the parks features the old-growth redwood forests and the prairie environments of both Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and the Redwood Creek area. In addition, several trails allow visitors to experience the ongoing forest restoration taking place. Following are three trails in this area:
11 mi(18-km)round trip
|Begin at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center.||This trail follows an old trail used by gold miners in the 1800s. It is generally flat and passes through spectacular old-growth redwood forests, the 30-foot walls of Fern Canyon, and along Gold Bluffs Beach. Backpacking is possible with a stay at the Miners Ridge camp. Bring your own water.|
10 mi(16-km)round trip
|Take the Bald Hills Road about three miles past the Tall Trees Access Road to the Dolason Prairie Picnic Area.||This is an all-day hike with some steep grades and switchbacks through open prairie country. The trail gradually descends into the Redwood Creek drainage through old-growth and second-growth redwood forests. This trail connects with the Tall Trees Trail. Bring your own water.|
|Lady Bird Johnson Nature Loop||Easy
1 mi(0.5 km)loop
|Take the Bald Hills Road (trailers and motorhomes not recommended) off Highway 101 2.5 miles to the parking lot.||This is an easy 1-hour stroll through an old-growth redwood grove.|
Middle Area Trails
This area features the Coastal Trail, several old-growth and second-growth coast redwood groves, and unique streamside environments. Following are three trails in the area:
9 mi round trip
|Accessed by the Coastal Drive (turnoff is on Highway 101 just south of the Klamath River) on the western side, and by the junction of Alder Camp Road and the Coastal Drive on the eastern side.||This is a strenuous all-day hike for most people. For those interested in backpacking, the Flint Ridge camp is available. Expect solitude and a steep climb through one of the finest old-growth redwood forests in the park. No water is available.|
4.5 mile round trip
|Just north of False Klamath Cove on Highway 101 at mile marker 16.0||This is a steep trail that descends 1,000 feet (330 m) through an old-growth redwood forest to the ocean. Used in the past by Tolowa Indians for food gathering at the ocean, the trail offers excellent photo opportunities of both the forest and the ocean. Expect at least three hours to complete; bring your own water.|
|Nature Loop Trail||Easy
1 mi loop
|Access trailhead right across from the Mill Creek campground entrance station in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.||This easy 20-minute stroll allows visitors to learn about the redwood forest through interpretive signs along the path.|
Many fine hikes through inland redwood groves are available in the northern section of the parks, especially in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. These forests are drier and generally warmer than the forests closer to the ocean. Following are three trails in the area:
|Little Bald Hills Trail||Strenuous
10 mi round trip hike
|Trailhead located off Howland Hill Road, 7.5 mi east of Crescent City, or 1.5 mi off South Fork Road east of Hiouchi.||This is an all-day hike for most people, but can be done as an overnight backpack trip by staying at the Little Bald Hills Camp. The trail begins in an old-growth forest and then gradually ascends 1,800 ft. A mixed conifer forest bordering prairie lands replaces the redwoods shortly into the hike. Good birdwatching and wildflower displays along the way. Potable water is available at the Little Bald Hills Camp.|
|Mill Creek Trail||Moderate
5 mi round trip
|From Jun � Sep, this trail can be accessed from the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park campground. Available year round from Howland Hill Road.||This is a half-day hike through an old-growth redwood forest. Mill Creek is a clear stream that is bordered by thick forest. This is an easy hike, with some non-level grades; good fishing and photo opportunities. Bring your own water.|
|Stout Grove Trail||Very easy
paved 0.5 mi walk
|Summer access is available from Jedediah Smith Redwoods State campground. Available year round from Howland Hill Road, seven miles east of Crescent City.||This is an easy, 1 hour stroll through a level grade redwood grove. The clear, aqua-colored Smith River runs alongside the grove; the river's influence at Stout Grove has created a level forest floor with sparse vegetation, as well as unusually stout trees from the rich river soils.|
Opportunities for backpacking are diverse in Redwood National and State Parks. Two popular overnight trails are Redwood Creek Trail and the Coastal Trail.
|Trail||Length - mi||Accessible||Permit||Description|
|Redwood Creek||8.2||Summer||Yes||Tall Trees Grove and the "Emerald Mile"|
|Coastal Trail||Varies||All year||No||Ancient redwood forests, open prairies, high bluffs overlooking the ocean, sandy beaches, and mixed deciduous/coniferous forests|
Walking along a coastal bluff, gulls and sea lions cry amidst the sound of crashing breakers. A gray whale spouts occasionally in the vast blue waters below and wind whistles through the alders. Trails lead down to secluded beaches where the driftwood piles and ancient rocks hide crabs and sea stars.
Although Redwood National Park is best known for its redwoods, the 70 miles (142 km) of Coastal Trail in the parks offers the adventurous hiker a different experience. Tidepool creatures, wet forests, and the Pacific coast await your exploration.
Day hikes and longer backpack trips may be done on the Coastal Trail. Permits are required at some backcountry camps and are available at the park visitor centers
The Coastal Trail runs the length of the national and state parks; the one major detour is the Highway 101 bridge over the Klamath River. It has six sections, which range in length from four to six miles. Several access points and five backcountry camps are within an easy day's walk of each other.
Camping is permitted along the trail only in established campsites which are available on a first-come, first-served basis, except for Butler Creek Primitive Camp in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, which requires a permit from the park office.
All water obtained from creeks should be purified by heating at a full boil for at least two minutes, filtering, using purification tablets, or other approved methods.
Leashed dogs are permitted out of developed areas only on the Endert's Beach Trail, the beach adjacent to Freshwater Lagoon and Redwood Information Center, and along Crescent Beach. You must keep your dog on a leash to protect park wildlife as well as other park visitors.
There are also many trails in the surrounding Six Rivers and other National Forests. Detailed information on these trails is available at Six Rivers National Forest Ranger Station in Gasquet. The mailing address is:
Six Rivers National Forest
Gasquet, CA 95543.
Current hiking information and maps are available at any of the five information centers/visitor centers located in Hiouchi, Crescent City, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, or Orick. If you have further questions, feel free to write for more information (Redwood National and State Parks, 1111 Second Street, Crescent City, CA 95531) or call: 707-464-6101.
Seldom seen, black bear roam throughout the park. They favor recently logged Redwood Creek area whose re-vegetation fosters abundant food. Fond of acorns, bears travel far to harvest them. These bears have generally not lost their fear of humans. The best way to prevent wild bears from becoming problem bears is to keep human food away from them. Use sound food storage practices. Counter-balance all food, scented items (soap, toothpaste, lotion, etc), and garbage in a tree; 12 feet up and 10 feet out from the trunk; and 5 feet down from the branch. Ask a ranger for proper techniques.
Inviting them into your picnic or camp, on purpose or accidentally, can result in damage to your equipment, you, or the bear. Bears are memory retentive and quickly grow accustomed to human foods. Wildlife managers may have to destroy bears that repeatedly visit areas where they encounter people.
Be aware of the following:
Mountain lions, or cougars, roam throughout Redwood National and State Parks. Although they have been spotted in picnic areas and along trails and roads, your odds chances of seeing one of these secretive animals are low.
In May 1994, several sightings of a mountain lion along Redwood Creek Trail near the parking lot caused the trail to be closed temporarily. Mountain lions have been known to attack people and pets, but there has never been a reported attack on humans in the north coast redwood parks. The likelihood of encountering an aggressive lion is very remote. People are more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion.
Nevertheless, it is wise to be prepared. Avoid hiking alone. Watch children closely. Do not let children run ahead of you on the trail. Hikers in particular are encouraged to read these tips carefully. Following them will allow both you and mountain lions to enjoy the parks safely.
The reclusive behavior of mountain lions and their tendency to live in remote areas explain why we know relatively little about these graceful cats. They once ranged from northern Canada through South American and from coast to coast. Probably no other land mammal in this hemisphere had a more extensive range. Due to hunting and habitat loss, mountain lions have been limited primarily to the West since the 1920's.
For many, the mountain lion is the quintessential symbol of wilderness: a large animal ranging freely in wild areas independent of human interference. Cougars are the largest carnivore in the north coast redwood parks. Cougars are at the top of the food chain and therefore serve as an indicator of the ecosystem's health. When in mountain lion habitat, it is critical to understand the behaviors that cats use to survive. You can then act accordingly to protect yourself and these animals in their native habitat.
Hiker Safety Tips
Don't run. Mountain lions are likely to chase things that run, since they associate running with prey.
The most often seen land mammal seen is the Roosevelt elk. Bulls of this largest subspecies of North American elk can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds and are aggressive in guarding their cow elk harems. They are wild animals and can be dangerous. NEVER APPROACH THEM!
Dogs were among the first wild animals domesticated by humans. We enjoy their companionship and affection as well as appreciate their practical skills (protection, searching for lost hikers, leading disabled people, herding). Our relationship with our dogs often brings out a natural protective instinct in them. This can threaten other people. A misinterpreted friendly hand can lead to a bite.
To avoid this kind of negative interaction, pets must remain on a leash no longer than six feet when outside in Redwood National and State Parks. Leashed dogs are permitted on Enderts Beach Trail, near Crescent City; Crescent and Gold Bluffs Beaches; the parking and picnic areas of Redwood Information Center and Lost Man Creek; and the Freshwater Spit Overnight Use Area. Leashed dogs are permitted in the state park campgrounds and on roads. Dogs assisting disabled persons are permitted in all public areas, including park buildings. Observing these rules allows all visitors a safe and pleasant visit along the trails and beaches and protects wildlife.
Domestic dogs and cats pose several threats to natural resources. They retain a primitive instinct to mark their territories with scent and can spread diseases to other wildlife. Any pet defecation in picnic areas, parking lots, trails, or other public areas must immediately be removed. Unleashed pets may also chase wildlife, injuring wild animals or causing them to leave their territory. In a number of instances, unleashed dogs have been injured or killed by large wildlife. Some unleashed pets have been lost. Finally, lost domestic animals sometimes turn to preying on park wildlife and must be destroyed.
Pets are also allowed at Point St. George and Lake Earl State Wildlife Refuge near Crescent City and in the nearby Smith River National Recreation Area. Pets are permitted along spacious Clam Beach a few miles north of Arcata south of Redwood National and State Parks.
Please help protect your fellow visitors and park wildlife by leashing your dog or cat in the parks. As a responsible pet owner, you will insure that your pet will continue to be allowed in the redwood parks.
Start at one of the park information centers by picking up a map and asking about current trail conditions. Bring along appropriate safety gear; trail surfaces are uneven and tumbles happen. Walk bikes past horses to avoid spooking the horses. Practice trailside courtesy by calling out to hikers as you approach them. Bikes are only allowed on designated roads. Riders under 18 are required to wear a helmet.
|Trail||Length - mi||Description|
|Lost Man Creek||11 one way||For the lower trailhead, park cars at Lost Man Creek Picnic Area, off Highway 101 a few miles north of Orick. For the upper trailhead, drive up Bald Hills Road and park near Redwood Creek Overlook. From the upper trailhead, climb briefly, then roll up and down over ridgetop hillocks before a steady descent through spruce and redwood forest. If you return to the upper trailhead, the round trip becomes 22 miles and includes a steep uphill climb.|
|Rellim Ridge||9 round trip||The trail goes through second-growth redwood forest. One trailhead is at Hamilton Road, across from Crescent Beach Vista Point. The other is off Howland Hill Road near Howland Hill Outdoor School.|
(Last Chance Section)
|6 one way||Begin at Milepost 15.6 on Highway 101 in DelNorte Coast Redwoods State Park for the easiest approach. The other trailhead is at the end of Enderts Beach Road south of Crescent City. The trail becomes steep and narrow at four miles from the south trailhead as it descends into Enderts Beach Trailhead. Nickel Creek backcountry campground is a short spur from the trail near the north end.|
|Little Bald Hills||8 one way||There is a steep initial climb from the eastern portion of Howland Hills Road. Watch for horses! The trail ends on South Fork Road with access to national forest lands. During high run-off, the South Fork Road access soon arrives at a potentially impassable creek crossing. The trail offers a number of biological communities and splendid views on clear days.|
Ossagon Trail Loop
|19 loop||Through the redwood forest to the coast and back. Park at Ossagon Trailhead off the northern portion of Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (milepost 132.74), at Elk Prairie Information Center, or at Fern Canyon. Day use fees are collected at Gold Bluffs Beach and at Elk Prairie.|
|Davison Road||8 one way||Through the redwood forest to the coast and back. Park at Ossagon Trailhead off the northern portion of Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (milepost 132.74), at Elk Prairie Information Center, or at Fern Canyon. Day use fees are collected at Gold Bluffs Beach and at Elk Prairie.|
Horseback Riding Trips
The Redwood Creek Horse Trail comprises four possible loops and two stock-ready camps. Several days of riding are possible. The Redwood Creek Horse Trail begins in Orick next to the Orick Rodeo Grounds off Highway 101, about 1 mile north of the Redwood Information Center.
The Little Bald Hills Trail off Howland Hill Road (within RNSP's Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park) is also horse-accessible with a stock-ready camp. The Mill Creek Horse Trails are available but only for day use. Access Mill Creek Horse Trailhead from Bertsch Avenue off Howland Hill Road.
Please be aware of the following regulations:
265 Idlewood Lane
Trinidad, CA 95570
1401 East Avenue
Eureka, CA, Phone: 800-400-1849
Reservations are advisable. All tours are guided. Horseback riding can be dangerous and all riders participate at their own risk. All riders are required to sign a release of liability form.
Extended Pack Trips
There are two camps along Redwood Creek Horse Trail, with some of the world's tallest trees nearby. All trips are by reservation only. Book early to get the dates of your choice. All trips include everything except your sleeping bag, clothes, and personal gear. Minimum 4 persons.
For safety, please follow these guidelines:
Riders should be at least 5 years old.
Proper riding boots are advised.
Limit one rider per horse.
All rides are guided.
They reserve the right to refuse service in any situation deemed unsafe.
Prices are "per horse" basis.
A gratuity is optional and appreciated
A California sport fishing license is required for anyone 16 years or older in order to take any kind of fish, mollusk, invertebrate, amphibian, or crustacean.
A Steelhead Catch Report-Restoration Card is required to take steelhead, which are defined as rainbow trout over 16 inches long.
|Redwood Creek||All Year||Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout||Trout limit is five per day, ten in possession. Bass limit is five with a min size of 12 in total length|
|Freshwater Lagoon||All Year||Rainbow trout and black bass||Limit is two fish in combination below Prairie Creek. No fish may be retained above Prairie Creek|
|Prairie Creek||Last Sat in Apr - 30 Sep||Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout||Limit is two trout (including steelhead), no salmon|
|Marshall Pond||All Year||Black bass||Limit is five with a minimum size of 12 inches|
|Lagoon Creek Pond||All Year||Rainbow trout and cutthroat trout||Limit is 5 trout per day with 10 in possession|
|Wilson Creek Pond||Last Sat in Apr - 15 Nov||Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead||2 trout (including steelhead), no salmon|
|Freshwater Beach, Hidden Beach||All Year||Surf smelt and redtail surf perch||Surf smelt limit is 25 lbs in combination of all species; Redtail surf perch: 2|
|Wilson Creek Beach, DeMartin Beach||All Year||Surf smelt, redtail surf perch, rockfish, and littleneck clams||Surf smelt 25 lbs in combination of all species; Redtail surf perch 10; Rockfish limit is 15 fish in combination. Littleneck clam limit is 50 clams with size limit 1.5 inches|
|Enderts Beach||Even years||Razor clams||20|
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