Bull Creek Trail Camp is in the least-visited part of Humboldt Redwoods, the only part of the park where you can still hike all day without seeing anyone. The area isn’t easy to get to and there isn’t anything especially scenic or interesting here. The main attraction is its remoteness.
The easiest way to reach the camp is a 4-mile hike on the Kemp Multi Use Trail, requiring a 2000 foot elevation loss and a ford of Bull Creek. However, Bull Creek may be too deep to cross during periods of heavy rain, making it impossible to use this route.
The camp is a few yards down an unmarked side trail next to the remains of the Lower Gould Barn, which collapsed a few years ago. The area has a pleasant, woodsy feel. Bull Creek flows right by the camp, but an eroded drop-off makes it difficult to reach the water; you have to walk back to the ford a quarter-mile down the road to reach the creek.
There are no defined tent sites. The most obvious place to camp is in the middle of the access road, which broadens out into a small clearing that’s relatively firm and level. There’s a nice-looking spot a bit further in that overlooks the creek, but the ground there is damp and somewhat sloped.
The camp has a trough with an untreated water spigot, but even during the rainy season no water comes out of the spigot. Fortunately, Bull Creek normally has water year-round. There are no picnic tables or bear boxes, and campfires are not allowed.
Reservations are available through Reserve California; search for Humboldt Redwoods.
Bull Creek Trail Camp wasn't originally quite so isolated. Until 1997, a dirt road (Bull Creek Road) ran alongside Bull Creek, providing an easy, scenic 4-mile walk or ride from Mattole Road to the camp. Three other dirt roads (Preacher Gulch, Gould, and South Prairie) started near the camp and connected to the park’s trail network on Grasshopper Mountain. However, these routes were originally built as temporary logging roads, so they were deteriorating and washed out easily. The El Niño deluge of 1997 damaged the trails, in particular the bridges and creek crossings, to such an extent that the trails were permanently closed and later removed. Bull Creek Trail Camp, which was on the affected section of Bull Creek Road, was also moved a half-mile or so to its current location at that time.
Local equestrians and cyclists were upset over the loss of a significant portion of Humboldt Redwoods’ backcountry trails, so the park agreed to build the South Prairie Trail to make up for some of the loss. The trail, the only singletrack in the area, climbs at a gentle grade through rather mundane woodland and briefly skirts a steep, grassy meadow. When I last hiked it, the lower part of the trail was somewhat overgrown with huckleberry and was faint and difficult to follow, while a part in the middle had a lot of fallen trees, but overall the trail was in good condition, given how little it’s used.
© 2021 David Baselt