Trails You Can Do in a Day (or so).
An easy trail with beutiful scenery year-round. The Hammond trail takes you from Arcata (heading north), near the Mad River Bridge off Giuntoli Lane, along Fischer Avenue, up through Hiller Park and ends on Murray Road. The trail is 10 miles long and provides spectacular views of the beaches along the trail.
Lost Coast Trail
There is a 25 mile stretch of the north coast that is still untouched by the civilization that has been slowly sprawling over the less rugged terrain.
The third largest of the California State Parks is right here in Humboldt County. Humboldt Redwoods State Park includes a wide ranging collection of ecosystems along with the world’s largest remaining old growth redwood forest. Hiking opportunities in the park include more than 100 miles of trails, with all different levels of difficulty. Some are also available for bicycling and horseback riding. Swimming, boating and fishing on the Eel River complement the complex of trails in Humboldt Redwoods. Founder’s Grove Nature Trail and Rockefeller Loop are two of the popular paths, featuring huge, ancient redwood trees and easy easy trails to hike (see below). The park also features an excellent visitor center, picnic and day use areas and various guided hikes and activities. Access to Humboldt Redwoods State Park is convenient, along the Avenue of the Giants in southern Humboldt County.
The Rockefeller Grove stands on an alluvial floodplain at the confluence of Bull Creek and the Eel River. It’s an excellent place to appreciate the redwoods. To reach the grove, drive west on Mattole Road from its start at the Avenue of the Giants, just north of the Founders’ Grove. Keep a close watch for a small sign that says “Rockefeller Forest / Lower Bull Creek Flats” next to a single-lane paved road that descends the embankment to your left. Because the road descends so steeply into the dark forest it can be hard to see. Park on the loop at the end of the short road. Walking clockwise around the grove, the loop at first runs along the edge of the woods near the Eel River. Soon the trail passes between the cut ends of a huge fallen tree and curves around to parallel Bull Creek. It then it enters a dense grove of cathedral-like redwoods. The grove has the classic groundcover of Bull Creek, redwood needles dusted with a sparse layer of redwood sorrel and dotted with an occasional fern. Around the intersection with the trails to Burlington and the Tall Trees area, the woods open up and there’s a magnificent view of a pure redwood stand, with nothing but big trees and redwood sorrel. As it heads back to the parking lot, the trail curves through the heart of the grove. A short spur trail branches off to a huge fallen tree just off the trail.
The Drury-Chaney Loop
The Drury-Chaney Loop and the adjacent Grieg-French-Bell Trail are most notable for the extraordinarily plush layer of redwood sorrel underlying the old-growth redwoods. Fallen logs, leaf litter, pretty much everything is covered with sorrel, creating the impression of a plush, wrinkled green carpet thrown over the forest floor. The Drury-Chaney trail is the northernmost official trail in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It’s about two and a half miles from the northern end of the Avenue of the Giants, just south of Pepperwood. The trailhead, which is in a clearing on the west side of the Avenue of the Giants, is well marked. Parking is available in a pullout on the west side of the road. The trail is a lollipop loop with a straight access trail followed by the loop itself. The first few hundred feet of trail skirts the edge of the clearing, but soon the trail dives into the lush old-growth forest. This is the most impressive part of the hike. The trail crosses a dirt road and, shortly after, a T intersection marks the beginning of the loop. Going left (clockwise), the loop has some classic Humboldt Redwoods scenery with the most impressive trees of the hike set among a lush carpet of ferns and sorrel. The loop portion of the trail has recently been surfaced with gravel to make it wheelchair-accessible, which is a big improvement because the low-lying trail used to get very muddy in the winter. The trail is level, clearly-defined, and easy to follow.
The Homestead Trail and Big Tree Loop
This short and enjoyable walk is one of the more serene lowland hikes in Humboldt Redwoods. The loop starts on the Homestead Trail, a lushly vegetated horse trail that skirts the edge of Bull Creek Flat. The loop then returns on the Big Tree Trail, which cuts through the middle of the flat and has much bigger trees. The best parts of the loop are the beginning and end, the parts closest to the Big Tree Area. Start at the Big Tree Area parking lot. Walk back out on the paved acces road to Mattole Road, turn left, and walk a short distance to a pullout on your right. This is one of the more impressive sections of Mattole Road, enveloped in the deep, dark redwood forest. In the pullout you’ll see a trailhead labeled “Addie Johnson Trail.” Take this trail, which dives into the forest a short distance before reaching a “T” intersection with the Homestead Trail. Turn left. The Homestead Trail gently rises and falls through lush redwood forest. Eventually the redwoods get smaller and sparser and the forest opens up. When you come to the paved access road to Albee Creek Campground, turn left. You’ll soon re-enter the huge old-growth redwoods. Turn right at the T intersection with Mattole Road and walk along the road a short distance until you reach the Big Tree Trail. Turn left. The last half-mile or so of this trail is one of the most impressive redwood walks anywhere, with an amazingly dense collection of huge trees growing from a sparse scattering of redwood sorrel and ferns. The grove is a nearly pure stand of redwood and there is no understory to obstruct views. The rushing sounds of Bull Creek fill the grove.At a trail intersection, turn left to take a short detour past the Tall Tree. Shortly afterward, you’ll reach the Tall Tree Area parking lot where you started.
The Founders’ Grove, conveniently located just off the Avenue of the Giants, is the most-visited grove in Humboldt Redwoods and is a major North Coast redwood attraction. Sitting on a large alluvial flat at the intersection of two rivers and shielded from storms by 3000-foot-tall mountains to the west, the grove provides an ideal environment for redwoods. The grove has a open, spacious feel with huge trees growing side-by-side with much smaller trees. In the winter the ground cover is an attractive and unusually dense layer of redwood sorrel that looks a lot like a plush carpet, which is in turn covered with a sparse layer of ferns. The grove is most attractive in winter, when the redwood sorrel ground cover is a dense, plush carpet. It is easy to appreciate the remarkable beauty of this place. Three loop trails run through the Founders’ Grove.
The Founders’ Grove loop is a half-mile-long trail that begins at the parking lot. At the near end of the loop is the Founders’ Tree; at the far end is the now-fallen Dyerville Giant. A connecting trail leads from the Founders’ loop to the less-visited but still impressive Mahan Plaque loop. The Mahan Plaque itself marks the location where several exceptionally large trees were cut in a logging operation that would have destroyed the entire grove, had Laura and James Mahan not seen the damage and taken steps to preserve the grove. Three trails, all unmarked, branch off from the Mahan loop. Going clockwise around the loop, the first trail begins at a short triangular post and connects the Founders’ Grove to the rest of Humboldt Redwoods’ trail network. The redwoods end almost immediately on this unexceptional trail as it climbs to a cut above highway 101. The other two trails both lead to the Avenue of the Giants.
Patrick’s Point State Park
Patrick’s Point State Park is an excellent destination for hiking, on the coast about a half hour drive north of Eureka. While this is the heart of Redwood Country, Patrick’s Point also has thick stands of red alder, fir, pine, hemlock and spruce along with beautiful meadows, wild flowers and ferns everywhere.
The coast line is exciting and diverse, with rocky cliffs rising over the ocean, beautiful sandy beaches and tide pools. Sea lion and whale sightings are common and the sunsets are unforgettable. Patrick’s Point offers a visitor center, picnic areas and campgrounds. Other attractions include a Native American plant garden and a recreated Yurok village. The hiking trails total six miles and feature many amazing views of the ocean and the forest. Ceremonial Rock, Wedding Rock, Lookout Rock and Agate Beach are among the popular trail destinations.
Humboldt Lagoons State Park
Forty miles north of Eureka, Humboldt Lagoons State Park encompasses a rich marshland habitat, excellent for hiking, boating and bird watching. Early last century Dry Lagoon was drained for agricultural purposes, but now it’s gone back to nature, with an abundant variety of wildlife. Hiking opportunities include a three mile coastal trail and six miles of beaches where agate hunting, whale watching, birding and general beach combing are popular activities. A former restaurant and motel has been remodeled and now serves as the Visitor Center and bookstore.
Rohner Park Redwood Forest
The Rohner Park redwood forest trails in Fortuna are an exhilarating aspect of the park that many people have yet to discover.
The Rohner Park redwood forest trails take hikers through nearly two miles of one of the finest mature second growth redwood forests in Northern California. Most of the forests in Humboldt County that were first harvested about one hundred years ago have been harvested again. But thanks to the Rohner family and the City of Fortuna, this rare type of forest has been preserved and is easily accessible.
In addition to significant redwoods, Rohner Park features a complex undergrowth of native plant life. Hikers on the Rohner Park Trails will observe plentiful wild shrubs and herbs including evergreen huckleberry, red huckleberry, salal, oxalis, Clintonia lilly and many other species.
Arcata Community Forest Loop
If you’re looking for a hike a little closer to civilization, the Arcata Community Forest is a great destination. It consists of land previously used to siphon water from creeks for drinking and 10 miles of logging trail. The Second-growth redwood trees complement a series of developed trails and bike routes through forest, open meadows, and creeks. The recent addition of a 11.5 mile biking trail gives biking-inclined visitors a scenic introduction to the land. Located right next to Redwood Park.
Bull Creek Flats Loop (this might actually partly be a repeat of The Homestead Trail and Big Tree Loop)
In the Rockefeller Forest is a flatland of uncut forest called “Bull Creek Flats”. This loop trail is a combination of the Bull Creek Flats Trail and the Big Trees Trail on the South and North side of the creek respectively. The entire loop can only be hiked when the footbridges are installed during the summer, usually between May and September. Off season, Bull Creek Flats trail can be accessed from Grasshopper Road on the West end. This trail offers a magnificent look at the massive redwoods, both first-hand in the forest and from the hillside. Take the South Fork/Honeydew exit on Highway 101 and travel west on Mattole Road until Grasshopper Road. Trail is on the left of Grasshopper Road.
Punta Gorda Lighthouse
Near the small, isolated town of Petrolia is a historical lighthouse predating both World Wars, known as the ‘Punta Gorda’ Lighthouse. It was known as the “Alcatraz of Lighthouses” because of the isolation around it. While this historical landmark can be accessed by vehicle, it is also the final destination of a one hour hike along the overwhelmingly long and awe-inspiring North Coast. During the summer months, this stretch is known for its consistently nice and sunny days compared to the foggier tendencies of other coastal spots.
Trinidad Head Trail
If you’re looking for an easier coastal hike as a good preview of both the North Coast and its small-town culture, this is the trail for you! Right on the coastal town of Trinidad, this 2 mile trail offers a view of the coast high above the ocean and a view of Patrick’s Point as well as the local Sea Lions basking on the outcroppings of ocean rocks, and potentially gray whales! At the summit are benches for resting, and a historical cross from the 1700’s. To get there, take the Main St./Westhaven exit into Trinidad, and then follow Main St. until Trinity Street. After you see a replica lighthouse, turn onto Edwards and continue down until the trails.
Tan Oak Springs / Durphy Creek Loop
A nice, leisurely hike near Avenue of the Giants, here you’ll encounter a freshwater spring and a scenic stream. A great choice if you want an easy but longer hike (about 3 hours).
Rim Trail Loop
Are you into Whalewatching and Native American history and culture? The 3 1/8 – 4 1/2 (depending on how many spur trails you take) Rim Trail Loop is the hike for you! Towards the end of the trail is a reconstruction of a Yurok Indian village. In fact, the trail itself is part of a path that the actual Yurok Indians traveled. Starting at Agate Beach, this trail surrounds the popular local attraction ‘Patrick’s Point’. There are plenty of spots to catch breathtaking views of the beaches, forests, waterfalls, creeks, and rolling hills. Many of the spur trails lead to Postcard-worthy moments of natural beauty. There are also numerous picnic spots, and even a running water spigot, along with a nearby campground. All of the nature that Humboldt County has to offer is experienced on this wonderful hike.