Exploring the Redwoods
The Redwoods National Park covers a large area of overlapping national and state parks in northern California. Ben and I found it challenging to figure out the best way to see the park and what hikes to do.
As always, we got great info from someone working at the Crescent City Information Center. Planning online is great but nothing beats chatting with a ranger or park volunteer.
We started at the northernmost part of the park in Crescent City, CA, drove down to the Kuchel Visitor Center in Orick, CA, and then back up.
First STop: Klamath Drive-Thru Tree
We pulled of Highway 101 at Exit 769 in Klamath to see one of the drive-thru trees. As the park newspaper says, “carving a hole through a coast redwood reflects a time passed when people didn’t fully appreciate the damage that would be done.” I wouldn’t condone cutting a big hole in a tree now, but we did stop to drive our car through one of the trees where the hole already exists, and I think it’s one way to wrap your head around the enormous size of the trees. Admission: $5.
Second Stop: Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway
After stopping in Klamath we drove a few more miles down Highway 101 and took Exit 765 for the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. From there, we drove down the Big Tree Wayside to the Prairie Creek Visitor Center, stopping at a few trails along the way.
^Do you see Ben in this picture?
Third Stop: Orick, California
Our next stop was the Kuchel Visitor Center, a beautiful spot on the coast. We grabbed lunch in the tiny town of Orick, population 357, at a great little roadside stand called EdeBee’s Snack Shack.
Last (and Best!) STop: Stout Grove
After driving back up from Orick, we pulled off onto the unpaved Howland Hill Road into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and drove to Stout Grove near the end of the road. The dirt road was rough at times but totally worth it — the Stout Grove trail was the highlight of our day!
Stout Grove is an easy 1/2 mile loop through the tallest trees I’ve ever seen. Some of the trees we passed by on this trail are over 2,000 years old. Because the area is in a floodplain there aren’t as many other trees and plants growing underneath the redwoods in this area, so it’s very easy to see the trees. I felt most in awe here and just wanted to lay down on the ground and look up for hours. I totally believe the trees on this trail could come alive 🙂
If you have a somewhat sturdy car to get down the dirt road don’t miss this trail!
We spent about five hours in the park, but could’ve easily shortened or extended the time by stopping to do more hikes or making a few less stops. The actual drive from the Crescent City Information Center to the Kuchel Visitor Center is just about an hour with no stops.
One thing I love about this park is that it is spread out with lots of options for trails, so even though we visited on Memorial Day we never felt like it was too crowded and we had plenty of quiet moments to enjoy the trees.
Have you explored the Redwoods? I know we just scratched the surface and I’d love to hear about your experience.