The Elk Prairie Trail
Length 2.8 mi · Climbing 210 ft
This trail circles Elk Prairie, first running along the edge of the redwoods, then returning through the campground. As you drive through the prairie, it looks like the trail would pass through some pretty impressive redwoods, but in fact the only good redwoods are at the beginning and end of the loop, and throughout the first half there can be a lot of traffic noise from Drury Parkway.
The entire trail is surfaced with compacted gravel and is wheelchair-accessible.
Start from the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. There's actually a faint trail from the Visitor Center to Drury Parkway, but usually I just just walk the few yards 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 can produce 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 an old-growth spruce grove 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, 2017 David Baselt