The Trillium Falls Trail circles through a remnant strip of old-growth redwoods next to a sawmill site. The grove was apparently left as a sort of ornament for the mill; there's a similar but smaller patch of old growth next to the sawmill in the Mill Creek Watershed in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
The trail features some very attractive stands of redwoods and a small waterfall. 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. Unfortunately, there's quite a bit of traffic noise from the nearby highway.
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 where elk sometimes browse. There's a large but little-used parking area for viewing the elk.
Start in the parking lot, descend 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, punching through some blackberry brambles before entering the redwoods. Switchbacking uphill among some impressivly large redwoods, the trail soon reaches a long metal footbridge that provides a view of Trillium Falls, a little cascade surrounded by maples and ferns.
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. There are also a lot of huckleberry shrubs lining the trail.
The trail descends and then crosses a dirt logging road. Soon after, the woods open up and the trees get a lot bigger. The best scenery and most impressive redwoods of the hike are here, around the southern tip of the trail loop.
The trail turns north and, near its end, approaches the edge of the forest. This part of the grove is much less attractive, with a dense understory and mostly small trees. However, it still has a few good-sized trees.
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, 2014 David Baselt