Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park preserves some of the finest specimens of Coastal Redwoods in northern California. The park has many trails that can obviously be hiked in any combination. I was able to hike almost all of the park’s trails by doing 4 different one day loop hikes. This is a description of one of the loop hikes. The other 3 loops are as follows:
Miners Ridge, Coastal, Fern Canyon, James Irvine Trails Loop
This hike starts at the Park Visitor Center at an elevation of 150 ft. Miners Ridge Trail will take you up a ridgeline to a maximum elevation of 650 ft and then down a canyon to reach the Pacific Ocean. You will then hike a beautiful sandy beach to reach the mouth of Fern Canyon, a short lush canyon with fern covered walls. After exiting the canyon, Robert Irvine Trail will bring you back to the starting point.
From Crescent City, California, drive 25 miles south on Route 101. Take Exit 765 to Newton Drury Scenic Parkway and go south 8 miles to reach Park Headquarters on the right.
|Hiking Distance:||12.4 miles Lollipop Loop|
|Total Vertical Gain:||1300 ft|
|Highest Point Elevation:||650 ft|
|Lowest Point Elevation:||Zero ft|
The first 0.8 miles of Miners Ridge and James Irvine Trails are common. From the Visitor Center get on Miners Ridge/James Irvine Trail.
A big bridge takes you over a boggy area.
The trail makes switchbacks and begins to climb a slope. You will soon reach the split in Miners Ridge and James Irvine Trails. This description takes you onto Miners Ridge Trail and brings you back via James Irvine.
Miners Ridge Trail takes you up to a ridgetop at an elevation of 650 ft (while remaining in the forest with no views other than that of the trees).
The trail begins to descend going past the junction with Clintonia Trail which is a shortcut to James Irvine. Stay on Miners Ridge and continue downhill.
As you go lower in elevation, the Redwoods disappear and Pine Trees come to replace them. You will reach a dirt road as soon as you exit the mountains. You can follow this road 1.1 miles north (right) to reach the end of it at Fern Canyon trailhead. A much scenic option is to cross to the west side of the road and go onto the sandy beach to reach the Pacific Ocean. You can then hike north parallel to the shoreline.
You will not find any signs for Fern canyon on the beach. I had entered my chosen path into my GPS and knew where to leave the beach. Without GPS, you must look for a notch in the bluffs to the east to find the entrance of Fern canyon. This will be roughly one mile after the start of the hike on the beach. Turn east and go to the trailhead for Fern canyon at the end of the dirt road (during the rainy season, this area may become too boggy and you may have to go back to the dirt road). Follow signs and enter Fern canyon.
The section of the trail in the canyon is only 1700 ft long. Follow the steps out of the north wall of the canyon to reach James Irvine Trail.
James Irvine Trail will then return you to the Park Visitor Center.