★★★

Redwood National Park


Home of the world’s tallest tree
California > Redwood National and State Parks

The Redwood Creek Valley, seen from the Redwood Creek Overlook

This page only covers the federally-owned lands of Redwood National Park; for the neighboring Jedediah Smith, Del Norte, and Prairie Creek state parks, please see the Redwood National and State Parks page. Confusingly, the name “Redwood National Park” is sometimes used to refer to all four parks together.

The main body of Redwood National Park is a huge swath of the Redwood Creek basin, in the middle of which is the iconic Tall Trees Grove. When the park was created in the 1960s, one of this grove’s trees was, at 368 feet tall, the world’s tallest known tree, a fact that helped motivate the creation of the park. Although taller trees were later found in other parks, in 2006 the Redwood Creek basin once again became the site of the record holder when the 379-foot-tall “Hyperion” tree was discovered. Unfortunately, Hyperion’s location is kept secret since even slight root damage from visitors would likely result in its top dying off.

Redwood National Park is dramatically different from the three neighboring state parks. The state parks have most of the really spectacular old growth because they were opened in the 1920s, when the area’s forests were by and large pristine and unlogged. The pace of logging accelerated dramatically during the housing boom of the 1940s, and by the time Redwood National Park was opened in the 1960s most of the North Coast’s prime old growth had either been logged or added to the state parks. In addition, changing attitudes toward park preservation made it much harder to build wilderness old growth trails. As a result the national park’s trails tend to be located in small remnant patches of old growth, in second growth, or in areas that don’t have any redwoods.

The national park does, however, have much more of a wilderness feel than the state parks. While the state park trails often run within earshot of busy roads, many of Redwood National Park’s trails have no traffic noise whatsoever and few other hikers. Providing a wilderness experience was one of the goals of establishing the park, and in that regard the park has been very successful.

Old-growth redwood trails

★★★

Berry Glen Trail

Length 7.2 mi · Climbing 1270 ft

Climbs through a scenic and interesting upland grove with some good-sized redwoods.

★★★

Emerald Ridge and Tall Trees

Length 5.5 mi · Climbing 70 ft

A loop through the Tall Trees Grove and along the banks of sunny Redwood Creek. Involves wading through water up to waist deep and can only be hiked July–September.

★★★

Tall Trees Grove

Length 3.9 mi · Climbing 690 ft

A small grove with what was once the world’s tallest known tree. Requires a free permit and a 45-minute drive, partly on a gravel road.

★★★

Trillium Falls Trail

Length 2.8 mi · Climbing 440 ft

A popular loop through a remnant strip of old growth with a small waterfall. Lots of traffic noise from nearby Highway 101.

★★★

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Trail

Length 1.4 mi · Climbing 100 ft

A short, level loop through an upland grove with relatively small redwoods. One of the most popular trails in Redwood Natonal Park.

Other trails

★★★

Dolason Prairie Trail

Length 10.4 mi · Climbing 2490 ft

A long, scenic descent through a prairie with dramatic views of the Redwood Creek basin, then through some old-growth redwoods, ending at Redwood Creek.

★★

Redwood Creek Trail

Length 15.4 mi · Climbing 500 ft

Leads to the Tall Trees Grove; along the way, the creekside woodland hasn’t been logged but mostly lacks redwoods. Popular with backpackers.

★★

Coastal Trail, Skunk Cabbage Section

Length 7.6 mi · Climbing 1050 ft

Climbs through a strikingly lush and richly green ravine before descending to a scenic beach. No redwoods.

Lost Man Creek Trail

Length 22.0 mi · Climbing 3100 ft

An old mainline logging road that starts in a dark and exceptionally lush grove of big old-growth redwoods, then climbs through heavily-logged redwood forest.

Lyons Ranch Trail

Length 4.5 mi · Climbing 750 ft

Strikingly different from the rest of Redwood National Park, this remote trail features wide-open prairies, dramatic views over the Redwood Creek watershed, and some old ranch buildings.

The Lost Man Creek Trail

Getting to Redwood National Park

Except for the equestrian trails, all trailheads in the Redwood Creek basin are off Bald Hills Road. From Arcata, drive north on Highway 101 about 40 miles. Just north of the run-down little town of Orick is the well-marked Bald Hills Road / Lady Bird Johnson Grove turnoff.

Kuchel Visitor Center, on the beach just south of Orick, serves as the main visitor center for Redwood National and State Parks. It’s open from 9 am - 5 pm except in winter (November - February), when it’s open from 9 am - 4 pm.

There’s no charge to visit Redwood National Park, but the Tall Trees grove requires a permit from Kuchel Visitor Center.

Lupine blooms on Bald Hills Road, May 2009

Lupines on Bald Hills Road

 


 

© 2007, 2011, 2017, 2019, 2021 David Baselt