By Chef Corso
Here we go into the big trees and bushes for 3 nights / 4 days.
Check out the video trip reports at the above links.
So where are the Redwoods anyway? I asked myself this question a few times because when you search on google maps, it’s a little hard to tell. Some of the main cities that are close to the Redwoods are Eureka, Arcata, Klamath and Crescent City. Helpful for google mapping and weather reports.
A very important thing to note when planning, is that “the Redwoods” are a combination of California State Parks and a National Park. All are managed together but have different reservation systems.
Check out the links here to find info, campsite reservations or backcountry reservations.
Getting there: 5 hour drive from Santa Rosa, CA to Elk Praire State Park
Who doesn’t love a good road trip. And the drive from NorCal up to the Redwoods was an absolute delight; running up 101 the whole way. I arrived at Elk Prairie by night fall, just enough time to get my bearings before night fell.
What's on the Menu
- Dinner- Grilled Sausage & Peppers. Garlic Bread
Stout Grove – Scout Tree – Fern Falls
Today was the first day to explore and I decided to start in the North tier. Del Norte & Jedediah Smith State parks. Just a short drive off of 101 are some amazing, very accessible groves and hikes. I started with Stout Grove and man…amazing. Less than a mile walk, along a very easy, maintained path. Just massive trees over 30 feet in diameter and a great introduction to the area.
For Scout Tree Trail, it ends at Fern Falls. Right before the falls (maybe 50 paces) is a turn out on your right side to scurry up the hill to see Boy Scout Tree. Note this as you might miss the turnoff.
What's on the Menu
- Breakfast-Seasonal Yogurt & Granola Bowl
- Lunch- Trail snacks
- Dinner- Italian Mish Mash
Big Tree – Corkscrew Tree – Fern Canyon – Gold Bluff – Backcountry hike into Redwoods Creek area.
At the beginning of Day 3, I didn’t have much drive to get out and explore but it turned into a full, diverse day.
I started with some short walks around the Elk Prairie area, which turned out to be peaceful, solo morning sunshine filled walk. I explored “Big Tree” one of the biggest trees in the world as well as “Corkscrew Tree” which was pretty fascinating to see 5-6 trees, twisting and fusing together over the hundreds of years.
After packing up camp, I headed over to Fern Canyon and wow, what a crazy surprise. Again, just a short drive down a forest service road, plus a short walk from the parking lot is a lush, all the ferns lined canyon with a trickling river running through it. Put on your water shoes or go barefoot to make for a more enjoyable experience, but make sure you hit this up in the area. Really cool spot.
What's on the Menu
- Breakfast-Cheesy Egg Toasts with Tomato
- Lunch- Trail Snacks
- Dinner- Indian Lentils & Rice
The last part of my day was trying to get into the backcountry before dark. I scooted over the trailhead, packed up my gear and food for 1 night backcountry camping, double checked my check list and hoped I didn’t forget anything. I set out to make it as far as I could down the trail to find a nice, safe campsite. I read on the national park website and on a few trip reports that the seasonal footbridges had been removed and this was indeed the case. I would have to ford the river. I packed my water shoes, grabbed a walking stick for support and headed in. It was about high calf depth and pretty easy crossing but glad I prepared and was ready for it. I crushed some miles and found a site just before 5pm and had enough time to start a fire and set up camp before night fell. I felt pretty accomplished considering I had a full day of exploring, packed up everything and made it before dark. Dinner was a quick super backpacker friendly Indian Rice and Lentils that tasted great against the cool mist rolling in.
Hike out of Backcountry – Lady Bird Grove – Flint Ridge – Drive home
I’ll be very honest with you; the first few days of the trip, I really didn’t want to head out into the backcountry. For whatever reason, I just didn’t have it. But I am SO GLAD I pushed through, challenged myself a little bit, but having a blazing fire but a river, in the pitch black by yourself has it’s great positives and waking up here with the sun waking up the valley and trees was pretty magical. I did a morning dipper in the river (see YouTube video), packed up and headed back.
As I came back to my rig, I realized that I was moist, damp and didn’t really want another night camping. So I decided to hit up a few last things, enjoy the day, then drive back home late. I hit up Lady Bird Grove which is another must. It’s just really hard to share the grandeur of these trees. And most great sights are incredibly accessible.
I stopped by Flint Ridge, which was going to be my campsite for the night. It’s a nice wooded campground with 8/9 well maintained plots, which obstructed views of the ocean. I think the positive with this site is it’s off the main track, quiet and the bluffs below are absolutely beautiful and a short walk from the campground. Also, the campground is less than 1/4 mile from the small parking lot, so a pretty easy situation.
I enjoying the last of the views, watched the sun go down over the Pacific. Packed it up and headed back home after a great exploration of the Redwoods.
The Redwoods isn’t the easiest place to get to, but I highly recommend you take the time sometime soon to see and experience this part of the world. It’s just so hard to share how beautiful, strong and amazing these trees are and you just have to walk next to and under them for yourself.
One thing to note is that 101 cuts through this whole area quite easily, but all of the good stuff is a short drive off of it. Make sure you take a little time to enjoy these side roads and don’t rush through it.
Stout, Scout Tree, Fern Canyon, Lady Bird Grove are all fantastic and worth a visit. But you can get delightfully lost in the trees on many of the side hikes and you can’t go wrong. Backcountry was definitley nice, but I wouldn’t say it’s a huge must for this area. I would recommend finding 2 base camps; 1 in the North and 1 in South to be able to explore and not have TOO much driving all around.
Get out there and explore and cooking something amazing while you’re doing it.