Perched on a steep hillside above the Pacific Ocean, Del Norte Coast Redwoods is the only major redwood park that doesn’t have any lowland redwoods. Surprisingly, though, the park still has some very impressive groves. The high, west-facing hillside is perfectly positioned to catch the summer fog as it streams off the ocean, keeping the trees well-nourished through the summer droughts. Because the higher slopes get more fog (and because redwoods don’t like salt spray), the trees get bigger toward the top of the hill — exactly the opposite of what you’d find in any other redwood park.
With its often-foggy weather and its abundance of rhododendrons, the park is especially photogenic. If you’ve ever seen a picture of huge redwoods in the fog with masses of pink flowers at their bases, it was probably taken here.
As a hiking destination, though, Del Norte Coast Redwoods is a little disappointing. Highway 101 runs right through the narrow band that contains the largest and most scenic redwoods, just west of the park’s highest ridge, so those photogenic scenes are usually accompanied by the roar of trucks. Also, there are only two old-growth trails, and the longer of the two (the Coastal Trail), while very scenic, misses most of the really good redwoods.
The park’s most scenic trail descends through old-growth redwoods from Highway 101 to a small rocky beach.
Follows an old alignment of Highway 101 through mixed-species woodland on high coastal bluffs, then turns inland and runs through old-growth redwoods. No views after the first half-mile.
This enjoyable hike starts in attractive mixed-species woodland and climbs into old-growth redwoods. One of the most enjoyable sections of the Coastal Trail.
Runs along steep, spruce-covered bluffs high above the ocean, with no roads or other development in sight. There are no rewoods, but the last half-mile has some great ocean views.
A short, popular walk along the bluffs to an isolated beach with tidepools. Sometimes closed due to landslides.
A loop through second-growth redwoods on a steep hillside above the Mill Creek Campground.
A short loop with some nice ocean views that starts from a rest stop alongside Highway 101.
A relatively new campground that’s somewhat out of the way, but feels less congested than the more centrally located campgrounds.
Part of the Coastal Trail, this campground is near Highway 101, on a sunny plateau with patchy spruce and alder woodland but no redwoods.
A huge property with miles of old logging roads open for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
A long, peaceful hike that explores the old logging roads of the Mill Creek Watershed.
This trail is now permanently closed.
The park is on Highway 101 just south of Crescent City and about an hour north of Arcata. There’s no main entrance, no visitor center, and like most of Redwood National and State Parks, no entrance fee.
© 2008, 2014 David Baselt