How to Visit the California Redwoods

How to Visit the California Redwoods
The tallest trees in the world are found in the redwood forests of California. The area consists of a national park and state parks. Redwood National Park is free to visitors. The state parks charge fees for day visits and camping. Twenty-seven state parks run through redwood forests from the northern-most park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near the Oregon border, to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park just west of Santa Cruz. To enjoy your visit to the California redwoods as much as possible, plan to partake of many of the activities available.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Hike through the redwoods. There are more than 200 miles of hiking trails in the national and state parks. Check the National Park Service for a list of closed trails. Pets are not allowed on any of national park trails; check with the individual state parks for pet regulations. Designated trails allow bikes or horses.
Step 2
Participate in a ranger-led program where you can learn about ecology, bears, tide pools and many more topics. These programs are available during summer months, and some are designed especially for children. Visit one of the five visitor centers for more information.
Step 3
Watch Native American dance demonstrations. The Tolowa and Yurok tribes have representatives at the Jedediah Smith picnic area and the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center throughout the summer.
Step 4
Stay overnight inside the park at the Redwood Hostel in Klamath or in one of the state-run campgrounds.
Step 5
Backpack into the back country. The national park and Prairie Creek state parks both offer designated campsites for back-country campers. You will need a permit to camp; for the national park, obtain a permit at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center. For a permit to camp at the Ossagon Creek or Miners Ridge sites in the Prairie Creek state park, obtain your permit at the Prairie Creek entrance station. Fires are allowed only in fire pits. No pets, motorized vehicles or hunting is allowed. Backpackers may visit the forest for up to five consecutive days and may return for a total of 15 days per year.
Step 6
Ride your bicycle through the redwoods. Cyclists can travel along a 40-mile stretch of road through forests and along the coastline. There are some trails in the back country that allow bikes as well, including the Coastal Trail at milepost 15.6 on Highway 101, the Ossagon Trail Loop at milepost 132.9 on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway and Lost Man Creek Trail 3 miles north of Orick.

Tips & Warnings

Don't feed the Steller's jays that are numerous in the park. They like to hang out in campgrounds and picnic areas and eat lunch leftovers. The jays are a problem because they prey on the marbled murrelet, which is endangered.
Be aware of the potential dangers from wildlife in the park. Keep trash cleared and put it in bear-proof trash cans. The campgrounds offer bear-proof lockers to store food items. Do not feed bears. Roosevelt elk are often seen by visitors in the park. Do not approach one of these 1,200 pound animals--it may charge.
Watch for poison oak. It has distinctive three-leaf clusters. Park management works to keep poison oak off trails, so if you stay on them you should avoid this itchy plant.
Check the tides before you visit the beaches and coastal areas of the parks. Sneaker waves can drag you into the ocean without warning; rising tides are the most dangerous time for these rogue waves.

Article Written By Cate Rushton

Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.

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