High up at the top of the trees on a hiking trail with no companions except the birds, the most awesome feeling surrounds you. The ground is soft, the air is quiet, though occasionally you can hear the song of a bird. This is where peace lives. It seems as though you are at the top of the world.
You are not at the top of the world, but you are near the tops of some very tall California Redwoods in the Prairie Creek Redwoods National and State Park. Located remotely in Northern California not far from the Oregon border, this “home of giants” is just off of the Coast Highway 101 a ways. The road cuts off of 101 between Trinidad and Orick and travels toward the ocean. It is about 42 miles north of Arcata but expect travel time to be longer than usual. This is a beautiful, scenic drive with winding roads that follow the ocean shoreline. Slow down and enjoy the scenery.
The upper trail eventually winds down to the Prairie Creek Trail at highway level. For those that don’t want to do a lot of climbing or are in a hurry, this trail is a good choice. You can hike a short distance or a longer one on mostly level ground.
The visitor’s center is a very helpful place to start your journey. You can tour the informative display room and visit with a ranger. They have maps of the trails well worth the price if you are going to hike. There are trails that will take you to the ocean as well as the hikes mentioned. Do stop in at the center before you venture out.
There is also a campground but check to see if you need a reservation. It’s a very popular place.
There are sights to see on the Prairie Creek Trail like Big Tree on the Big Tree Loop Trail that is part of the Prairie Creek Trail as it wanders back and forth across the road. There are trees that are open at the bottom and are similar to a cave. During the Great Depression, whole families lived inside these tree caves.
Oxalis abounds in the forest here along with forest ferns. The small flower of the Oxalis can be several different colors with white and pink being the most prevalent.
Seasonally there are Trillium and other wildflowers. Look for colorful mushrooms.
The fallen trees are full of life with plants and tiny critters. Larger critters often shelter in the hollowed out ones.
The creek is visible most of the trek on the ocean side of the highway.
There is a lot more to the Redwoods both north and south of Prairie Creek and we have enjoyed the Avenue of the Giants several times. There are 3 drive through trees. Sadly, one caved and fell during the massive California rain storms early in January. This one is actually owned by an individual and there is a small fee to visit it. We weren’t able to drive through this one at the time but you can now. It’s worth the fee. This is the only one created by nature.
Leaving Prairie Creek going north is a spectacular drive through this unique state and national forest. It’s slow go for me so I can enjoy the beauty, peace and serenity of the tall trees. You will never regret a visit here.