This enjoyable trail starts with an impressive stretch of old-growth redwoods, descends through a lush, attractive spruce and alder grove, and ends at a secluded beach. The varied woodlands and the scenic beach make this a really fun hike and a nice break from the redwoods.
In the winter you may need to wade through a wide marshy area of 18 inch deep water to get to the beach.
The trail is part of the Prairie Creek Bicycle loop so, unusually for an old-growth trail, bicycles are allowed.
Start at Drury Parkway, where there's a small pullout on either side of the road. 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. The ravine has a quiet, hushed atmosphere. 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. There used to be a trail camp in the grove of dead, broken-off trees to the right, but it's been completely removed.
The trail, which can be somewhat overgrown, pushes through some grass and a marshy area. Take the somewhat faint trail to your right that heads across a flat grassy area toward the ocean.
The route varies quite a bit from year to year, but usually in summer you can get to the beach without getting your feet wet. In winter, though, expect to wade through some large pools of 18 inch deep water to reach the beach. There's a bridge, sometimes removed for the winter, across a really deep channel.
Just after the bridge the trail ends and a wide, deserted beach covered with a thin layer of vegetation begins. The Ossagon Rocks, a collection of large rocks including a distinctive arrowhead-shaped rock, is a short walk to your right and makes a nice endpoint for the hike. A little ways further up the beach are some even 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, 2015 David Baselt