February 2016

The Redwood or Sequoia sempervirens in prehistoric times covered much of the United States, Europe and Asia. When the settlers started coming into California, the redwoods had dwindled to a few hundred thousand acres relegated to the west coasts of California and southern Oregon. By the early 1900's, half of that had disappeared when environmentalists and the public started to take notice.

They took action and in 1927 the California park system came into being preserving them indefinitely... well at least while the park system still gets back some money from the general fund. While Mimi and I have visited most of them as a convenient place to stop while traveling through, this time we set out to explore them on purpose.

From the Bay Area, our first stop was Salt Point and the Bluff Trail close to Stump Beach. We have found that the OpenstreetMaps offer fairly good trail information, and this one can be seen here. Few people take this trail and it's not only an incredibly scenic coastal hike, but free. From here we headed to MacKerricher S.P. which has some nice camp spots but it's main draw is the boardwalk trail around Lake Cleone. It's only too bad they let most of it decay, as it's one of the most interesting boardwalks Mimi and I have taken. Besides it's  scenic ambiance, it's botanically diverse, with lots of riparian animal life including birds. You can see some of the trails here. It may look like a short distance from MacKerricher to Richardson Grove State Park, but they don't show the convolutions Hwy 1 has as it crawls over the coastal mountain range towards Leggett on Hwy 101. Once on 101 it's a quick 20 minutes to Richardson Grove where our first adventure was trying to camp at Oak Flat. Following the signs not only led us onto a beach with bowling ball size stones, but there was no bridge across the Eel River. We wondered what kind of rig we had to have to forge the river when we saw in small print that it had a 'seasonal bridge', meaning that it migrated seasonally from a storage area to across the river during the busy season (with ranger help I assume). Aside from the non-bridge, the plastic covered roof of the abandoned looking visitors center (which was closed), the limited camping, and some scrubby trails we still enjoyed the park. The Lookout Point Trail in spite of it's scenically challenged viewpoint was nice, and the Grove Nature Trail is short, majestic, informative, and shouldn't be missed. You can download a brochure of the park here

From here it's only about a half hour to Humbolt Redwoods and the largest contiguous stand of redwoods in the world.  The best approach is via the Avenue of the Giants road which also includes a nice Auto tour for those inclined. The Bolling Grove trail near Myers Flat is a great introductory hike. At the visitors center, another 6 miles up a very shaky hand pointed out some of the best trials. We think we got them right. On their recommendations we took the Mahan and Founders Grove hikes just up the road which were amazing. On a whim we took the Bull Creek (Mattole) road and stopped at the Blue Slide day use area for a charming creek side hike. Another highly recommended hike on the way out is the Drury-Chaney Grove Trail which has some of the lushes covering of Redwood Sorrel we've ever seen. On to Prairie Creek where the best information can be had at the Thomas Kuchel Visitors Center. The whole reason for going here was to do the Fern Canyon. Well... no one told us it was down a 20 mile dirt road and was flooded until summer. But this left us free to explore the rest of the park. If you've got some excess energy, the seemingly endless uphill
Hope-Ten Taypo Trail is very nice, but the most sublime of all was the Prairie Creek Trail right out of the visitors center. It is simply breathtaking. Go to our album for some pictures.