There’s more to see than just big trees
Trip Cost ($ – $$$): $$
Time to Hit the Highlights: 3 Days
Must See: Fern Canyon, Chandelier Drive-thru Tree
Time of the Year to Visit: Spring – Fall (we visited in the Fall)
Audience: Everyone (variety of trail lengths and levels of difficulty)
Most people know Redwood as home to the tallest trees on Earth. The parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles of pristine coastline, all supporting a rich mosaic of wildlife diversity and cultural traditions. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks manage these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all people.
For more info check out the Death Valley NP website at https://www.nps.gov/redw/index.htm
- We flew into Portland and rented a car to make the drive down to the national park.
- You can easily fly into San Francisco as it is closer to the park.
- We made a road trip out of this adventure, stopping in Redwood first and then heading to Sonoma and San Francisco.
We stayed at the Enchanted Forest cabins, a short drive from the park.
We loved the cabins as it allowed us privacy and a (very) small kitchen, but don’t set your expectations too high, this is not a 5-star hotel.
- While this destination is actually in the state park, it is well worth the hike.
- You end up in a beautiful canyon with fern walls. A-mazing.
- The 4.9 mile hike starts on the James Irvine trail at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park visitor center.
- We took this trail to Gold Bluffs Beach and the Coastal Trail. You can make a loop out of it, if you plan it right, but make sure you bring a map!
- Another pro to this hike is the minimal number of people on the trail and if you’re lucky, the elk encounters near the beach!
Chandelier Drive-thru Tree
- It’s exactly what is sounds like. It’s a tree you can drive your car through.
- The tree is massive and frankly it is kind of cool. Almost something you have to do while you’re in the area.
- The cost is $5 for cars and $3 for bikes, motorcycles and walk-ins.
Emerald Ridge Trail/Tall Trees Trail
- This 5.5 mile loop combines the Tall Tree and Emerald Ridge trails.
- This is not a coastal trail, but it does take you to Redwood Creek and winds you through the beautiful Redwood forest.
- We hiked early in the morning and only ran into a handful of people while enjoying watching the sun rays rise through the forest.
- The trail is very well marked once you’re on it, so it is easy to navigate.
- Make sure you stop at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center to pick up a permit.
- The best way to get to the trailhead is head to the Tall Trees Grove.
- We cooked for ourselves in our cabin, but also picked up deli sandwiches from the local grocery store to take on our hikes.
- Stock up on snacks if you plan on going on long day hikes!
- Payment for entry is required at the National Park Ranger Station
- Watch out for Elk! While awesome to see in the wild, be conscious of whether you are there while they are in rut.