Have you ever been somewhere that took your breath away? Visiting and living in Hawaii definitely gave me that feeling many times. However, since we left, we have been some amazing places, but none has recreated that feeling… until we visited Northern California in May. Andre got so sick of me saying “Oh my god this is beautiful!” every 5 seconds. Haha.
May is the perfect time go to because it is still considered “off season”. Many times, it felt as if we had the trail to ourselves and only passed a few people. Also, accommodation prices are very good this time of year.
Andre has a bad knee, so we focused on shorter hikes (mostly loops) under 5.5 miles total a day. With so many options for hikes, there is something for everyone. Whether you are not able to hike very far and want to focus on the scenic highways and flat trails or if you are an avid hiker and want a challenge, you will find what fits your needs.
Andre and I stayed in Trinidad, California in a cute eco-cottage. Our host was phenomenal and it was the perfect home base for our stay. Here is our itinerary for our short trip.
Tall Trees Trail
For this hike, you need to visit one of the Visitor Centers to get a permit. There is typically more than enough permits. The permit requirement is due to the road being narrow, windy, and unpaved to ensure large vehicles do not get trapped on the road. There is a gate that you get a passcode for to enter. We all know if this didn’t happen dumb people would be driving down that road and get stuck and ruin it for everyone.
Okay, now onto the hike. It is 4 miles and pretty easy. The trail is downhill and opens into a flat areas called “Tall Trees Grove”. Of course, what goes down, must go up and the hike back is uphill. It was a perfect first hike through the Redwoods. The sheer height and width of these trees is unreal. You feel like a tiny little ant as you walk through them.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove
Close to the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, this hike is an easy 1.4 mile loop. Aside from the massive trees, you will see slugs, snails, moss, ferns, and flowers.
Trinidad Beach State Park
You know how you see those beautiful Pacific Northwest beaches with the rock formations? You can see this here. One thing I loved about this region was the moody looking beaches. This is a perfect spot to take a post-dinner walk after grabbing some food at Trinidad Lighthouse Grill. I highly recommend their crab melts and ice cream!
Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway
We took this parkway on our way to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park as an alternative to Highway 101. It is about ten miles long and only adds a few minutes on to your trip. Here, you get to drive through old-growth Redwood tree tunnels. There are several hikes along this route that you can stop and do. We didn’t do any of these during this trip (maybe the next).
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
Woow! Many call this park the Ewok Forest, if you are a Star Wars fan. Howland Road through the park is a bit rough, so be warned. However, you get to snake along the trees and it is absolutely breathtaking. We hiked Stout Grove (0.6 mile loop) and the Boy Scout Trail (5.6 miles round trip total, but we only did about 3.5 miles roundtrip). Stout Grove had a decent amount of people on it, but Boy Scout Trail was so quiet. Again, the massive size of these trees and the environment of the forest seems like you are on another planet. Perhaps the forest moon of Endor?
Crescent Beach Overlook
Andre and I packed our lunch every day to save money on food. This was a great spot to enjoy a sandwich while overlooking the ocean looking for whales.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
In Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, you see the coastal redwoods, moody beaches, and walls of ferns. Be prepared to get your feet wet when in the Fern Canyon, which is a short walk from the parking area! We also stopped for the incredible views of Gold Bluffs Beach.
Patrick Point State Park
We saw a mother whale and her baby right below us!! If you love ocean vistas, this is a great spot to soak in some of the views. Obviously it is a good place to search for whales too. 🙂
There are so many amazing hikes and sights in Northern California. I wish we would have spent more time there, but I am looking forward to going back one day!
Have you ever been to the Redwood National and State Parks? What is your favorite memory?