The Redwoods National and State Parks on the Northern California coast is just one of the national parks within California and it is unique because it is one of the only places in the world to see the amazing Coastal Redwoods. The best way to see these redwoods is to walk among them to experience how enormous they are. There are day hikes for experienced hikers, but here we are going to go over some of the best beginner hikes of the Redwoods National and State Parks.
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Founders Grove - Humoldt Redwoods State Park
Although the Humboldt Redwoods State Park is not technically within the Redwoods National Park area, it is not far. It is about 2 hours south and if you are coming up from San Francisco which we did it was a nice break from the 6 hour drive. There is a great auto tour through the redwoods, but we really enjoyed walking the Founders Grove. The Founders Grove is a short, easily accessible half mile loop trail. It is unique because it is one of the best-preserved old growth redwood forests. The parking is limited, but if you can find parking then I would highly recommend this little detour.
Simpson Reed Grove
This is another relatively flat 1-mile trail. It is part of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and is a bit hard to find. I recommend putting it in your GPS when you still have cell service in Crescent City. You use a turnout on Walker Road to get to the trailhead and there are a few parking spots at the trailhead. There is also parking available on the road as well. One of the things that makes this trail unique, is the amount of lush greenery and huge ferns that are on the ground. If it looks familiar, that’s probably because Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi was filmed here with the Ewoks roaming the forest in the Forest Moon of Endor. Although, this one is hard to find, I highly recommend it. This was our favorite one of the hikes in the Redwoods National Park.
Stout Grove Trail is another easy 0.7 mile loop trail that will take you through one of the most beautiful areas of the redwoods. There is a small hill down to the actual trail, but other than that it is flat. One of the things that makes Stout Grove unique is the lack of growth on the ground so that you can see the enormity of the Redwoods. In comparison, the Simpson Reed Grove has ferns and brush lining the sides of the path which add to the greenness, but detract some from the Redwoods. This grove is off the Howland Hill Road and has a good amount of parking for people.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove
The Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a relatively flat 1.5 mile walk through the redwoods. It is often considered the most popular hike in Redwood National Park, especially during the spring when the pink rhodendrons are blooming. Subsequently, when we were there, this was the most packed trail so we didn’t like it as much. This is an easy walk for a stroll, there is a small hill that you have to take to get to the actual trail, but otherwise is a relatively flat trail.
Big Tree Loop/Cathedral Trees Trail
This is right at the end of the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway if you are going north to south. If you want to go see the big tree that is 304 ft fall and 21 feet across, it is just a short walk to it. I recommend walking up the hill and checking out the redwoods up there as well. Although, if you have mobility issues, you may want to skip this one as you will have to climb over tree roots. This one is located right off the road and there are plenty of parking spots available. In total its a 2.8 mile walk, but its out and back so you can choose how long to make it.
West Ridge Trail/Prairie Creek Trail
Lastly, the Prairie Creek Trail is right off of the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway. There are many different entrances with parking along the drive. Its an out and back trail so you can decide how long you want to walk for, but it is relatively flat. Although it parallels the road, it goes along the creekbed and you will feel like you are far from civilization. There is an interesting tree called the Corkscrew Tree. It is not far from the road that I would recommend you at least make a side trip to see if you don’t see it on your walk. There is a nicely marked sign for it on the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway.