The Trillium Falls Trail
Length 2.8 mi · Climbing 440 ft
The Trillium Falls Trail starts from the Davison Road elk viewing area off Highway 101, just south of Prairie Creek. The well-built trail meanders through an attractive strip of old-growth redwoods on a hillside just above Highway 101. There's quite a bit of traffic noise on the trail.
The forest here doesn't have the unusually light foliage, bark, and groundcover of nearby Prairie Creek. The redwoods are darker and more varied, giving the woods a pleasing and more conventional appearance. There are quite a few good-sized trees and no stumps, which is surprising for a site that was once adjacent to a sawmill.
The hike starts in a clearing that was once the site of an Arcata Redwood Company sawmill. The sawmill has been removed and the clearing restored to a grass-covered field. The area is prominently marked as an elk viewing area and has a large parking lot on a slight rise that overlooks the clearing. Unfortunately the elk haven't been coming here in recent years, preferring the Little Red Schoolhouse area to the south. As a result the parking lot is usually empty.
Descend from the parking lot on one of the paved access trails and turn right onto the paved Davison Trail. After just a few yards, the Trillium Falls Trail branches off to the right, punches through some blackberry brambles, and enters the redwoods. Switchbacking uphill among some impressivly large redwoods, the trail soon reaches a long metal footbridge that provides a view of a little waterfall. Unusually, maples grow all around the creek here in this little ravine.
After the waterfall, the redwoods get a lot smaller and the woods become choked with small spruce trees. Dense thickets of young trees seem to be common at the fringes of old-growth groves where the neighboring land has been logged
The trail descends and then crosses a dirt logging road. Soon after, the trees get a lot bigger. The best scenery and most impressive redwoods of the hike are around the southern tip of the trail loop. Turning northward, the trail runs near the edge of the forest, where the understory gets denser and the trees smaller. There are still a lot of good-sized trees here, though.
The trail unceremoniously dumps you onto a dirt road, at which point the redwoods abruptly end. The last one-third mile on the dirt road is still very pleasant, though, with attractive alders leaning over the road. The lack of redwoods in this area is probably natural and not due to logging.
© 2007, 2009 David Baselt