Monday, February 2, 2015

Best trails to see Redwood NP’s wonders

Redwood trees at  Redwood National and State Parks.
Photo courtesy of Redwoods NPS.
Among the best ways to see Redwood National and State Parks’ top sights is via a day hike. Just four short trails will allow you to enjoy each of the park’s highlights – the tallest trees on Earth, tide pools and seastacks, coastal wildlife, and North America’s largest elk.

Tallest trees on Earth
Coastal Redwoods can reach up to 30 stories high and are among the oldest living organisms on Earth. Sadly, only 5 percent of old-growth redwoods remain. You can see some of the oldest ones on the Travel Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, a10-mile scenic drive, and then hike the 0.25-mile round trip Big Tree Wayside Trail to the Big Tree, which soars 28 stories high.

Tide pools and seastacks
With more than 40 miles of pristine Pacific Ocean coastline, the park is the perfect place to see tide pools and seastacks. The latter are visible from many highway vistas but to get close up to a tide pool – a small body of saltwater that sustains many colorful sea creatures on the beach at low tide – explore the 1-mile segment (2 miles round trip) of the Coastal Trail at Enderts Beach south of Crescent City.

Coastal wildlife
Multiple ecosystems – prairies, oak woodlands, riverways that pour into the Pacific Ocean – can be found across the national park. The Klamath River Overlook and half-mile round trip walk on a segment of the Coastal Trail to the ocean provides an opportunity to spot sea lions, seals, sea birds, whales and salmon.

North America’s largest elk
A few herds of the continent’s largest elk – some bulls weigh as much as five full-grown men – make the national park their home. The Trillium Falls Trail in Elk Meadow offers a chance to see the Roosevelt elk; the trail passes a clearing, often frequented by a herd, on the way to a small waterfalls in a 2.8 miles loop.

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.