The Elk Prairie Trail
Length 2.8 mi · Climbing 210 ft
This trail circles around Elk Prairie. On the east side it runs right under the edge of the redwoods, then it loops around to the west side where it passes through the campground. Although from the road it looks like the trail would pass through some pretty impressive redwoods, in fact the only good redwoods are at the beginning and end of the loop, and throughout the first half there's a lot of traffic noise from Drury Parkway.
Start from the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. You can take the faint trail across the grassy area by the road out to Drury Parkway, or just walk on the road. Cross Drury Parkway and take the trail down the grassy slope on the other side into the woods. There aren't any redwoods to be seen at first; Boyes Creek, which you cross after only a few yards, is surrounded by a wide band of pleasant, lush mixed woodland, but no redwoods grow near the creek.
The trail passes by a few immense redwoods standing at the edge of Elk Prairie, then dives back into the redwood-free zone alongside the creek. Turn right onto the Elk Prairie trail.
After crossing Boyes Creek again, the trail climbs slightly into some very attractive redwood forest. The scenery only lasts for about a quarter-mile, though, after which the trail gets closer to the edge of the forest where there are a lot of smaller trees and brush. Drury Parkway is visible below, and it produces a lot of traffic noise.
The trail emerges from the woods and descends to Drury Parkway. Cross the parkway and take the trail on the other side, passing through the open meadow where elk may be grazing. Turn right at the T intersection.
Look for a trail to your left, marked "Elk Prairie Trail", that heads into the dense thicket of small trees alongside Prairie Creek. Just like Boyes Creek, the redwoods don't grow here alongside Prairie Creek.
The trail unceremoniously dumps you into the campground, with no signs to indicate where to go. Go left on the campground road. There aren't any big redwoods here, but the campground nontheless has a very attractive setting in a spruce wood alongside Prairie Creek, with some campsites right next to the crystal-clear rushing creek.
Turn onto the first trail that's marked with a sign to your left. The trail passes by a few redwoods before entering the streamside vegetation zone again. After passing the campfire center, the trail meets the Revelation Trail and finally re-enters a true old-growth redwood forest. From here, follow the Revelation Trail back to the Visitor Center.
© 2011 David Baselt