There is nothing like being outside in nature to make a person feel tiny, yet so alive. We’ve been eating up these sort of experiences this summer, from our caving experiences to our weekend at Crater Lake. A recent trip to the Redwoods National and State Parks was no different.
We drove through the night, and after a quick stop at Trees of Mystery, we arrived in our campsite at Mill Creek in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and started setting up camp. With most of the day still ahead of us, we set out for the first hike of the weekend.
Hiking Through Old-Growth Redwoods
Damnation Creek is a spectacular and strenuous 4-1/2 mile trail. Within seconds of starting our hike, we were surrounded by tall redwoods and fog. Moving further away from the highway, the trees start to shrink. The redwoods even change is color, becoming gray as they get closer to the water, bleached by the salt air.
As we were hiking we kept crossing paths with a fellow hiker, who asked us if we had hiked the trail before, then wished us luck on the difficult trail. And soon the trail became much steeper and rougher, and we focused on keeping our footing. For a while, it didn’t seem like we were walking toward the ocean, as there are no ocean views through the thick forest. At the very end, the trail emerges and the ocean is in view.
We spent as much time as we could on that rocky beach cove, inspecting tide pools and dipping our toes in the cold water. We left with just enough time to hike the steep trail back uphill, and enjoyed watching the redwoods reappear.
It Isn’t All Hiking – Drive Down Howland Hill Road
We planned our drive back from Oregon Caves National Monument to include a scenic drive through Howland Hill Road. We pulled onto the unpaved road near the town of Hiouchi. Howland Hill Road runs through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and is a completely different view of the Redwoods. During the slow drive (go slow, you will kick up lost of dust) we only passed a handful of other cars. Many of the pictures of Howland Hill Road show a lush green forest, but our view was dusty, all the trees and ferns covered in a thin haze of gray dust. While some may not appreciate the grayed view, to me, it felt like something from another world.
We did park and take a short hike, maybe a half-mile out and back, to Smith River. The water felt cool and refreshing when I dipped my toes in, and I felt we could have stayed there all evening. We spent a bit of time along the riverbed, before heading back up the trail and continuing our drive.
But We Love Hiking
One hike wasn’t enough for us. We ended our weekend with a short 2-1/2 mile hike to Trillium Falls in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This forest was lush and dense, and the perfect way to end our weekend. The area is popular for elk sightings, but alas, we saw none.
Is the Summer Really Over?
With all weekend trips come the sadness of Sunday. Every time we packed up our tent this summer, Angel and I said much the same words “can we stay a little longer?” Before the summer ended, we also were able to visit Pinnacles National Park (post coming soon) for one last camping weekend. And the next few months will be busy, as Angel begins volunteering at Curiodyssey and training for his Wilderness First Responder certification.
Are you already missing summer? How are you keeping the adventure alive through the fall?