Redwood National & State Parks

Chris and I got up close and personal with the world’s oldest living trees at the Bristlecone Pine Forest and meandered through groves of the world’s largest trees at Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park.  While the ancient bristlecone pines and massive sequoia trees thrive in the high altitude mountains of Southern California, the tall redwood trees tower over the foggy coasts of Northern California; no matter where we are in California we’re not far from the world’s largest (and oldest) trees!

As Bay Area natives, plenty of my friends and I have driven past the Redwood National and State Parks at least once in our lives, but none of us had actually spent quality time at these parks. Since I had the desire to cross off another national park on my list, Chris and I made a quick road trip up north to spend a couple days oohing and aahing in the lush redwood forests.

First things first—I found free “dispersed” camping along Redwood Creek in Orick; we turned onto Bald Hills Road and made the second right onto an unpaved road. From Bald Hills Road, the entrance down to the creek appeared unforgiving; however, the entrance turned out to be a steep, washed out, and rutted “driveway” of dirt and gravel suitable for a 4×4 vehicle. We made it in okay, and to our relief, ended up making it out okay too. Tip: Avoid if you are towing!IMG_20171230_162833-PANO

For our first full day of redwood trees-exploring, we started off with the 11.6-mile Miners’ Ridge and James Irvine Loop trail from the Prairie Creek State Park visitor center. This trail’s variety of environments that unfold from dense forest to undeveloped coastline to verdant creek valley makes it one of the most highly regarded redwood hikes.

Hiking along Prairie Creek and the Miners’ Ridge trail:IMG_0393IMG_20171231_095559IMG_20171231_092635

The open Gold Bluffs Beach:IMG_E0404

Avoiding getting our feet wet at the fern canyon (slightly wilted due to the winter season):IMG_20171231_115721IMG_20171231_120059

Returning via the James Irvine trail:IMG_E0411

After completing this hike in the morning, we finished the afternoon by partaking in a couple of the park’s scenic drives. First we drove north through the park’s Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway until we reached Coastal Drive Loop near Klamath. The highlight of Coastal Drive Loop is the High Bluff Overlook:IMG_0418

Once we finished awing at the panoramic vistas of the Pacific we made a quick detour to Klamath for the kitschy $5 Tour Thru Tree for this classic photo opp:IMG_0428

Then we continued north to Requa, where we enjoyed one final view at the Klamath River Overlook. From there, we observed the Klamath River spill out over the sand bar and into the ocean.IMG_0432

On our second day in the parks, we retrieved free permits from the visitor center to drive down the gated access road to hike to the Tall Trees Grove. This access road is unpaved and narrow and leads to a tiny parking lot, which limits the trailhead to a 50-visitors-per-day cap. To get to the Tall Trees Access Road, we first had to dodge some traffic on Bald Hills Road:IMG_0433

We drove up Bald Hills Road, turned onto the access road, unlocked the gate with the combination number the ranger had given us, and drove 7 miles down to the trailhead. From the trailhead, it’s a 1.5-mile hike down to the Tall Trees Grove, a 1-mile loop, and a 1.5-mile hike back up to the parking lot.

Hiking down the Tall Trees Trail:IMG_0457IMG_20180101_100958IMG_0451

The Tall Trees Grove, home to some of the tallest trees in the world:IMG_0472

In addition to the tall redwood trees, fluorescent moss-covered oaks loomed nearby too.IMG_20180101_103546

After paying homage to the tallest trees, we returned to camp via Bald Hills Road, hitched up our trailer, and miraculously exited the dispersed camping area without hiccups. Before exiting the park we made one more little hike to the park’s Big Tree. We returned to the Prairie Creek visitor center, parked, and hiked a short 3-mile loop up along the Prairie Creek Trail to the Big Tree and back down via the Foothill Trail.IMG_20180101_134131IMG_0480IMG_20180101_134456

Once our hearts were filled with tall-trees content, we finished off our redwoods tour with a brief stop at the nearby Patrick’s Point State Park, perhaps the only state park packed within a square mile of land.IMG_0483IMG_0486IMG_0491

It’s hard to believe that the logging of redwood trees was an issue through the early 1980s–that’s within Chris’s lifetime! 95% of California’s old-growth redwood trees have been logged and the 5% remaining trees are protected by the national and state parks. Thanks to conservation efforts, these natural wonders will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.  Fairytale forests, mysterious fog, rugged beaches, roaming elk, and the world’s tallest trees–what’s there not to love?


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2 Responses to Redwood National & State Parks

  1. Elaine Gumm says:

    Your pictures & experiences are exquisite. As I was reading, I was thinking, what a beautiful explanation & pictures for a tour guide. If you gathered & catalogued sections of the USA & countries visited & published these, I believe this would b invaluable for travelers— especially hikers. In addition, you give excellent tips to save money and avoid the tourist traffic. The off trail pictures of Vietnam & other countries are so beautiful. Meeting local villagers is a great way to build bridges of peace around the world. I admire your tenacity & curiosity to explore the world. You have great memories & experiences together. Sending love. ❤️❤️❤️, Aunt E

    • Chris Romp says:

      “If you gathered & catalogued sections of the USA & countries visited & published these, I believe this would b invaluable for travelers— especially hikers.”

      Our travels are cataloged under the menus at the top of the page/site, and there are so many good hiking trail resources out there that catalog millions of hikes, like

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