Many coastal redwoods have lived here for over 2000 years. They grow to over 370 feet tall (higher than a 30-story building!). Their bark resists fire and disease. And the tallest recorded tree in the world—the Hyperion—lives in this massive Redwood Park.
But to call the parks merely redwood parks leaves out the joy of smelling the mossy wetness, touching the soft bark of the trees, hearing the birds, the wind, waterfalls, and streams, and walking through canyons of ferns while the sun casts rays of light through the branches so high above.
The redwood parks in the area are broken into sections—Orick, Prairie Creek, Klamath, Del Norte, and Jedediah Smith (the last three being in Del Norte County). Within the park, you’ll find more than you can even begin to imagine—black sand beaches, redwood-studded cliffs, lagoons, rivers, bears, elk, and even places where there are no people.
Start with a stop to the Kuchel Visitor Center and try to nab a free permit to visit the Tall Trees Grove. Only a limited number are offered each day on a first-come, first-served basis, so get here early because this is a treat—to see where the tallest trees in the world grow. Another highlight is the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, a 1-mile hike through a dense redwood forest.
Prairie Creek Area
There are 70 miles of hiking trails in this state park. Not to be missed are Elk Meadow (where you can get a glimpse of the Roosevelt elk populating the area. Don’t get too close, they can charge).
Other worthwhile stops include Big Tree Wayside, Fern Canyon (a short accessible hike through a dense fern jungle ideal for families), Lost Man Creek (an 11-mile mountain biker favorite, or a beautiful, but rough, drive), Gold Bluffs Beach, and the Coastal Drive. There are two great campsites in thei region.
The redwood trees spill into the river, lagoons, and the sea. It seems every direction you look is just as dazzling as the last. Check out the False Klamath Cove (a protected beach at the mouth of Wilson Creek with excellent tide pools), the Coastal Trail, and Lagoon Creek (take the Yurok Loop Trail for excellent bird-watching and sublime ocean views).
Del Norte Coast
8 miles of rugged coastline are hugged by zillions of old-growth mossy redwoods. Access the coast from the Damnation Trail or the Footsteps Rock Trail. Bird-watchers head to Ossagon Creek.
Jedediah Smith State Park
This nearly unused state park has some of the tallest trees in the world. To start, you might want to drive the rough Howland Hill Road. It’ll take you to Stout Grove, the spot with the tallest trees in this northernmost area of the redwood park. The hike is short, but worth it.