The Hidden Beach Section of the Coastal Trail runs along steep, spruce-covered bluffs high above the ocean. With no roads or other development in sight, the trail has a striking resemblance to the Lost Coast Trail in Sinkyone Wilderness, except the Coastal Trail doesn't have any redwoods.
Start at the Lagoon Creek parking lot, which is mostly used as a Highway 101 rest stop. The lot is just north of the Trees of Mystery attraction and just south of where Highway 101 begins to climb into Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. The trail begins at the northern end of the lot, clearly marked but hard to see because it's overgrown with grass.
At the first trail intersection, you can either follow the coastline to the right or take a shortcut on the Yurok Loop Trail. The right-hand way is 0.3 miles longer but more scenic; the left-hand way runs along the edge of the lagoon but is inundated with traffic noise from Highway 101.
The first mile of trail is the best, alternating between lush, attractive spruce forest and open grassy areas with fine views of the rocky shoreline and some sea stacks, among the best coastal views in the park.
After an intersection with a spur to Hidden Beach and another to the Trees of Mystery, the trail begins to climb. The open grassy areas end, although there are still a few brief glimpses of the ocean, and the spruce forest seems to open up. The trail looks like it used to be a dirt road, although grass has covered most of the road leaving only a narrow singletrack trail.
The trail gradually levels out, but it never completely levels out; it constantly dips and climbs. There's a long dull stretch where the trail mostly runs through an impenentrably dense tangle of blackberry brambles and ferns. There aren't a lot of views in this area, but throughout the hike, the crash of the surf on the rocky coastline below can be heard. From time to time the distant "ork-ork" of sea lions can also be heard.
The blackberry brambles and ferns finally come to an end and the scenery improves quite a bit. Just before this point, some stout spruce trees that are probably old growth stand by the side of the trail. The spruce culminates when the trail winds up to the top of a little knoll where about half a dozen large spruce trees stand. There are some glimpses of the ocean and the rocky coastline far below.
The dark, almost black-barked spruce trees give way to a large, attractive stand of white-barked red alders. The alders end at a fenced-in viewpoint. The viewpoint has some pretty nice views of the ocean and the coast to the south. The trail then emerges onto a grassy hillside for its last half-mile. The ocean views continue and are the best in Redwood National and State Parks. The hillside is covered with thickets of coastal scrub; the trail is overgrown with grass and is somewhat rough.
The trail climbs up to the parking lot, offering views of the Klamath River.
© 2011, 2012 David Baselt