June 2- 4, 2011 – Redwoods National and State Parks
We left Eureka Thursday morning and headed north on Highway 101 to Klamath. It was cloudy but for the first time in a while we did not have any rain. What a beautiful drive along the coast and into redwood country. We are staying at Klamath River RV Park just outside of Klamath, CA. It is a beautiful, quiet park on the Klamath River. The sites are all grass and there is a grassy slope going down to the river. Klamath is about in the middle of the Redwoods National and State Parks. The Redwoods National and State Parks are cooperatively managed by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation and include Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Together these parks are a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.
After visiting the Visitor Center we took a scenic drive on the Davison Road and hiked to Fern Canyon. On the way to the canyon, we saw two bull Roosevelt Elk and a herd of cows and yearlings.
Fern Canyon is a beautiful canyon with 50 ft walls draped with seven kinds of ferns, resembling a hanging garden.
There are seven kinds of ferns in this canyon including five-finger, deer, lady, sword and chain ferns. Notice the Redwood Sorrell below these ferns – it looks like huge clovers. We couldn’t find any with 4 leaves for good luck.
After our hike into the canyon we walked out to the beach and enjoyed watching the waves and looking for seashells.
When we got back to our campsite, we enjoyed some time with the dogs beside the river. We watched Osprey hunting for fish and a few jet boats speeding by.
On Friday we took a scenic drive on the Bald Hills Road through old growth redwoods. We stopped and hiked at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and saw some really tall trees.
The road continued to climb to the highest point in the parks, 3,097 ft. at Schoolhouse Peak. We passed several lush meadows filled with beautiful Lupine.
We drove the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and stopped at the Big Tree Wayside to eat lunch and do some hiking. While we were eating lunch (in the Jeep as it was sprinkling) this Steller’s Jay perched on the hood of the Jeep twice and watched us eating.
After lunch, we hiked a short distance to the “Big Tree”. This tree is 304 ft tall and 21.6 ft in diameter and is estimated to be over 1500 years old.
From the Big Tree, we hiked on the Cathedral Trees Trail. It’s a beautiful trail through the old growth forest. Redwoods have a very large root system as shown by this fallen tree. Notice the 4 trees growing out of the top of this overturned stump.
We came upon this large Banana Slug on the trail – he moved so fast we almost missed him! To get an idea of how big he is Rex’s keys are in the upper left hand corner. We also saw some beautiful snails on the trail that were as big as a silver dollar.
This tree was really unusual. The central part of the tree has either died or burnt out. A couple of trees started out on the left side at the base of the tree and two more trees started half way up on the right side. The two trees on the right side were well over four feet in diameter and their bases were 20 feet above the ground. Redwoods have the ability to produce new shoots from boles in times of stress. Several of the trees in this area showed evidence of a central stump with several trees of various sizes growing around the old stump.
After our hike we took another scenic drive on the Coastal Drive Loop - a steep, narrow coastal road that started north of where we are camped. This drive goes through some old growth forest and along the coast. We stopped at this World War II radar station disguised as a farmhouse and barn. They were cinder block buildings that had wooden siding and shingles added along with fake windows and dormers to make them look like farm buildings.
We were fortunate today that it only sprinkled a little and didn’t rain, although it was very overcast, but we had a great day!
Saturday morning we hiked on the Yurok Loop and Coastal Trails. This rock off the coast was covered with sea birds. It is hard to see but all the black spots are birds.
There were lots of lupine, wild cucumber, cow parsley, coltsfoot and yarrow blooming along the trail.
In places the trail was so overgrown that it looked like you were hiking through a tunnel. There were so many large snails along the trail that you had to watch closely or you would step on them.
We drove the Howland Hill Road in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. This was a very scenic drive with lots of huge old-growth redwoods - makes the jeep look a little puny.
The rhododendrons were blooming throughout the forest – this one was beautiful.
We stopped and hiked the Stout Grove and River Trails. These trails meander among colossal redwoods along the Smith River. Flood waters inhibit the growth of understory trees and plants seen in other groves, revealing the full stature of the 300-foot coast redwoods.
We thought this jumble of fallen trees among living trees interesting.
We were blessed with another great day with no rain until we got back home.
Redwoods National and State Parks are beautiful and the trees are amazing – we really enjoyed our time here.