Walk Among Giants In Redwood National and State Parks

Here’s a collection of some of our favorite hikes in Redwood National and State Parks. Many have convenient access and offer easy to moderate level hikes through the breathtaking forests of the region, taking you through majestic Redwoods, idyllic valleys and canyons, and along stunning Pacific coastline.

LADY BIRD JOHNSON TRAIL – Easy Level – This walk among ancient redwoods and Douglas fir is the most popular trail in Redwood National Park. It gives you an intimate look at a magnificent ridge-top redwood forest, with its complement of under story plants.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove rests near the top of a ridge in Redwood National Park, more than 1,000 feet from sea level. The moist conditions and the extra rain brought by the elevation causes the redwoods in this grove to look less red than trees of that sort found elsewhere on the North Coast.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Bridge

The iconic bridge leading to Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

FERN CANYON – Easy Level – Imagine walking through a narrow canyon where the walls are completely covered by luxuriant ferns and mosses and are dripping with moisture. That describes Fern Canyon, an unforgettable natural wonder that Steven Spielberg chose as a location for Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World.

Fern Canyon

Fern Canyon.

CATHEDRAL TREES TRAIL – Easy Level – Marked trailhead is in the Big Tree Wayside parking area. Trail can also be accessed via Elk Prairie Trail and Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, across from Prairie Creek Visitor Center. This 3-mile in and out walk gives access to some of the largest trees in the Prairie Creek area. Many cathedral trees, or a family group of trees, tower on the slopes. Walk past fallen mother trees that have become nursery logs for a vast array of trees and ferns. A great trail for children because of its gentle grade and many trailside herbs and berries.

Cathedral Trees Trail

Cathedral Trees Trail. Photo: www.redwoodhikes.com

LOST MAN CREEK TRAIL – Moderate Level – Hike Lost Man Creek Trail in the Beautiful Redwood Forest! This scenic hike and bike trail, located in Redwood National Park is a beautiful journey through the Redwood forest. The Trailhead begins on Hwy 101, 3 miles north of Orick or 6½ miles up Bald Hills Road. It is is a two to eight hour hike or ride with non-level grades.

Lost Man Creek Trail

Old-growth redwoods on the Lost Man Creek Trail. Photo: www.redwoodhikes.com

TRILLIUM FALLS – Moderate Level – One of the newer trails in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, this route is more notable for its noble redwoods and proximity to the Prairie Creek elk herd than for its small waterfall and scattering of trilliums. A springtime visit, with all four features present, is perhaps the best time for this hike, but it offers enjoyment—only a half mile from Highway 101—year-round.

Trillium Falls.

Trillium Falls.

SKUNK CABBAGE CREEK – Easy Level – Another great option in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Hwy 101 access road *(CLOSED to motor vehicles til further notice, still open to hike & bike) to the Skunk Cabbage Section, Coastal Trail, 1.7 miles north of downtown Orick. Easy hike past giant Sitka spruce and a stream canyon filled with skunk cabbage DISTANCE: 2.8 miles round trip (longer option available).

Skunk Cabbage Trail

Skunk Cabbage section of the Coastal Trail. Photo: www.redwoodhikes.com

DOLASON PRAIRIE TRAIL – Moderate Level –  10-mile roundtrip hike through prairie in Redwood National Park. Take the Bald Hills Road to the Dolason Prairie Picnic Area. This is an all-day hike with some steep grades and switchbacks through open prairie country. Check out a historic Dolason sheep barn along the way. The trail gradually descends into the Redwood Creek drainage through old-growth and second-growth redwood forests. This trail connects with the Tall Trees Trail. Bring your own water.

Dolason Prairie Barn.

Dolason Prairie Barn. Photo: www.redwoodhikes.com

REDWOOD CREEK TRAIL – Moderate to Strenuous Level – This is the second most visited trail in the Redwood National Park. The first 1.5 miles are accessible. Here you can combine hiking and backcountry camping. Take an eight-mile hike to Tall Trees Grove, where some of the world’s tallest trees grow on the flats of Redwood Creek. This involves two creek crossings. Caution: Bridges are provided in summer only. During the rainy season, high waters make stream crossings dangerous.

Redwood Creek

Redwood Creek. Photo: www.redwoodhikes.com

THE TALL TREES GROVES – Strenuous Level – This is the most difficult attraction to reach in Redwood National Park. The trailhead is located at the end of the gated Tall Trees access road (off of Bald Hills Road), accessible via free permit from the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center on Hwy 101 south of Orick. Visitors are invited to hike in from the Redwood Creek trailhead, located just north of Orick, CA, on the Bald Hills Road. The 8-mile, one-way hike to the Tall Trees Grove is best accessed during the summer months when footbridges are in place to cross the creek. Permit is required for the Tall Trees Grove.  Backcountry camping with permit allowed on the gravel bars along Redwood Creek.

Tall Trees Grove Trail.

Tall Trees Grove Trail.

BERRY GLEN TRAIL – Moderate to Strenuous –  7.2 mi round trip · climbing 1270 ft. Hike from Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park all the way to Lady Bird Johnson Grove on  this well maintained trail. If you start at Elk Meadow, the trail is uphill all the way, from where it crosses the highway and includes some steep switch-backs until it ends in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. (3 mi.).

Berry Glen Trail.

Berry Glen Trail.

JAMES IRVINE TRAIL TO FERN CANYON – Easy Level – 10 miles roundtrip.  The James Irvine Trail runs northwest, following the gentle drainage of Godwood Creek, named for an early homesteader. Ancient redwoods stand along the trail. Some reach diameters of 18 feet. Hike begins at Prairie Creek Redwoods Visitor Center. Loop back around to the beginning or take one of the offshoots to Gold Bluff’s Beach or Fern Canyon.Looking for a quick “redwood fix” and only able to stay for the day? Park at the Visitor’s Center in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, on the south end of the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway and look for the trail head to the Prairie Creek Trail. Or drive Bald Hills Road to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. Refer to Prairie Creek map in sidebar.

James Irvine trail

James Irvine Trail.

More Hiking trails in Prairie Creek  provided by State Parks

Great Link to Hiking Trails & Tall Trees on the Redwood Coast by © 2006 David Baselt

Nearby Hikes:

EUREKA SOUTH

Headwaters Forest Trail
EASY – MODERATE  11.2 total miles
This beautiful trail takes hikers through the Headwaters Preserve, a politically-debated old growth forest near Eureka, CA. This beautiful forest is a rare treat for visitors to explore.

Coastal Trails in Humboldt County
Our coastal trails are a wonderful opportunity for visitors and hikers to experience the rugged beauty of our coastline. Hikers can see a variety of birds and wildlife from these trails such as sea and shore birds, sea lions, harbor seals and whales. Most of these hikes are gentle to moderate.

Accessible Trails
There are a variety of hiking trails at California State Parks that are accessible to people with disabilities.

If you are looking for a guided tour of the redwoods:

  • Pacific Outfitters Adventures not only gives tours, but they will pick you up with their Adventure Bus.  www.pacificoutfittersadventures.com  adventures@pacificoutfitters.com  (844)-926-6566