The Ossagon Trail
Length 3.6 mi · Climbing 730 ft
This trail is mainly used by hikers who want to get to the secluded beach and campground at the bottom, and by cyclists riding the Prairie Creek Bicycle Loop. For most of its length the trail isn't especially interesting, but it starts with a short but pretty impressive stretch of old-growth redwoods and ends in a lush, attractive spruce and alder grove.
Start from the pullout on Drury Parkway. The trail starts in exceptional old-growth redwood forest, climbing gently alongside a shallow ravine that's lined with lush vegetation, including some pretty big trees. Across the ravine is an old road that was recently removed; ironically, it wasn't noticible until it was removed.
The trail soon reaches the top of the hill, where the old growth comes to an end. There's another pocket of redwoods a few yards down the hill, but it's much different with smaller, darker trees that lack the distinctive straightness of the best old-growth.
The wide trail mostly passes through dark second-growth spruce woods as it descends. Beginning at the ridge, the trail was converted from a dirt road and you can still see that it follows a wide gap in the trees. A lot of vegetation was bulldozed during the recent road removal and as a result the trail is still fairly open. However, after the last bridge, the trail gets narrower and overgrown, with tall walls of dense shrubs on either side, including some stinging nettles. If you manage to look up from all the vegetation in your face, you may notice that you're in an alder grove.
Near the bottom, the spruce and red alder woods get a lot lusher and more attractive. The trail crosses a little stream and then breaks out of the woods next to the Ossagon trail camp. Oddly, the camp is located in a grove of dead, broken-off trees.
The trail, which is somewhat overgrown, pushes through some grass and then through a 10-yard stretch that's muddy or (in winter) flooded with up to 12 inches of water. There may be a detour trail but the detour is usually just as bad. If you get past this obstacle, follow the trail across the grassy plain and toward the ocean until you reach a seasonal bridge. Here the trail ends and a wide, deserted beach covered with a thin layer of vegetation begins; there's an arrowhead-shaped rock formation known as the Ossagon Rocks some distance to your right; beyond are some much bigger but unnnamed rocks.
If you're cycling the Prairie Creek Bicycle Trail, be aware that the Coastal Trail can be rough and muddy. In winter, a long stretch just south of the Ossagon Trail may be flooded with up to 18 inches of water.
© 2011 David Baselt