The northwest corner of the California offers some truly spectacular treats!
The Coastal Redwoods
Coastal Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world. The fossil records for these giants goes back before flowering plants and birds. Fossil records show evidence of redwoods in Europe, Asia, and North America. However, now costal redwoods only exist on a narrow strip of land stretching from the Oregon-California border to Central California. According to national park website (click here) before mass logging commenced in the mid 1800s there was 2,000,000 acres of Coastal Redwood. By 1910, less than 40,000 acres of old growth redwood remained. Save the Redwoods League (click here) jumped into action in 1918 to preserve the remaining 5% of the Redwoods’ original range. 49 State parks and 2 National Parks feature coastal redwoods today. We visited several of those parks: Patrick’s Point, Prairie Creek, Humboldt State Park, and Jedediah Smith State Park. We ran out of time, but Redwoods National Park and Del Norte have some epic hikes.
On our way to the far northwest corner of California we perused the Avenue of the Giants, considered one of the top ten 30 mile drives in California.
The truly massive trees and giants were in Jedediah Smith State Park. Hiking in an old growth redwood forest in the early morning, or at any time when there are no other people around is like walking through some prehistoric land. The massive trees create a dense canopy blotching out what little light gets through the fog layer. Pacific Wrens chirp creating muffled echoes. The huckleberry, rhododendrons, and sword ferns fill the understory. Huge trees that fell became land bridges across gullies and nurse trees for more life. Adding to the the mystique some of the trails are only accessible after driving for 15-20 minutes on an old narrow one-lane dirt logging road. This helped really create the impression we were far out there in Big Foot land! We started our hike on the Boy Scout Trail at 7am.
The redwoods run right into some of the most dramatic coastlines in California. Alcoves of beaches are gorgeous. Sea lions, cormorants, gulls, and osprey are everywhere. Patrick’s point offered a beautiful confluences of northern rainforest meets coast!
Prairie Creek State Park
Prairie Creek State Park
Roosevelt Elk are the largest of the four elk species in the Americas. We headed through Prairie Creek via dirt road to Gold Bluffs and Fern Canyon for one of the top rated hikes in California. We were not disappointed. Formed by creek erosion, nearly 40-50 feet walls of ferns (Sword ferns, wood ferns, finger ferns, deer ferns and maindenhair ferns) lined the canyon for us to explore. Amazing!
The Pacific Northwest Corner of California is amazing. The secret is out as well. There is high density of campsites both public and private, and during the summer they are all booked. We saw license plates from Vermont, Alaska, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, and even Kentucky. People come from all over the country to witness these massive forests. It is no surprise that this area is a UNESCO world heritage site.