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The Ossagon Trail


Length 3.6 mi · Climbing 730 ft
California > Redwood National and State Parks > Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Old-growth redwoods at the beginning of the Ossagon Trail

Trail closure

The Ossagon Trail is closed until July 2018.

Background

This enjoyable trail starts with an impressive stretch of old-growth redwoods, descends through a lush, attractive spruce and alder grove, and ends at a secluded beach. The varied woodlands and the scenic beach make this a really fun hike and a nice break from the redwoods.

You may need to wade through a wide marshy area of 6–18 inch deep water to get to the beach.

Prairie Creek Bicycle Loop

The Ossagon Trail is part of the Prairie Creek Bicycle loop so, unusually for an old-growth trail, bicycles are allowed. The bike loop seems to be quite popular, and about half the people on the trail are riding bikes.

However, after the Ossagon Trail you’re supposed to continue south on the Coastal Trail, which isn’t at all suitable to biking, since it’s very rough and narrow, with flooded sections and deep mud year-round. I’ve seen people with wide beach tires just cycle down the beach instead, which seems a lot easier, but you have to know where to turn inland to reach Davison Road.

Click map to show all trails and roads
Part of the Trail Map of Redwood National and State Parks (Redwood Hikes Press, 2021)

Hike description

Here’s the trailhead location in Google Maps and Google Street View.

Start at Drury Parkway, where there’s a small pullout on either side of the road. The trail starts in exceptional old-growth redwood forest, climbing gently alongside a shallow ravine lined with lush vegetation, including some pretty big trees. The ravine has a quiet, hushed atmosphere.

Second-growth spruce just after the crest

The trail soon reaches the top of the hill, where the old growth comes to an end. There’s another pocket of redwoods a few yards down the hill, but it’s much different with smaller, darker trees that lack the distinctive straightness of the best old-growth.

The wide trail passes through dark second-growth spruce woods for a while. Beginning at the ridge, the trail was converted from a dirt road and you can still see that it follows a wide gap in the trees. In places the trail is lined with tall walls of dense shrubs, including some stinging nettles. If you manage to look up from all the vegetation in your face, you may notice that you’re in an alder grove.

Further down, the trail passes through some more attractive spruce woods

Near the bottom, the trail enters a canyon where the spruce and red alder woods get a lot lusher and more attractive. The trail then breaks out of the woods. There used to be a trail camp in the open field to the right, but it’s been completely removed.

There's a creek in the canyon bottom that used to be easily crossed on two footbridges, but it changed course several years ago and now the trail dissolves into a ratsnest of faint and heavily overgrown paths, all of which have been flooded by the creek. The clearest path heads straight toward the beach but never gets there. Go to the left instead, pushing through some grass and a wooded marshy area to reach a signed intersection.

Turn right and take the somewhat faint trail that heads across a flat grassy area toward the ocean. You’ll need to cross a bridge, sometimes removed for the winter, across a really deep channel.

Just after the bridge the trail ends and a wide, deserted beach covered with a thin layer of vegetation begins. The Ossagon Rocks, a collection of large rocks including a distinctive arrowhead-shaped rock, is a short walk to your right and makes a nice endpoint for the hike. A little ways further up the beach are some even bigger but unnnamed rocks. It used to be possible to continue past the rocks to Carruthers Cove even at high tide, but recently the beach has eroded, so both the tide and surf have to be very low to get past.

The Ossagon Rocks

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© 2011, 2015, 2020 David Baselt