Coast redwoods hiking, photography and
by Mario D. Vaden
Arborist & Redwood Explorer
If you are headed to the coast redwoods, this is a good spot to begin. The menu is at the top or side depending on device or browser with over 200 pages categorized by subject. More redwood articles are in the redwood blog.
Most essential topics are under must-see, lodging, park visitor centers & hiking. Maybe start in essential.
The top photo is Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith coast redwood park. At right a woman leans on a huge coast redwood in Redwood National Park. The albums and other pages have more photos.
This began 2008 with a single page about the grove of titans coast redwoods and multiplied to 200 pages.
In 2014, a lengthy redwoods page was added about new largest coast redwood discoveries after more redwood titans were found. Coast redwood now surpasses giant sequoia for more than height.
I'm not a sanctioned redwood tour guide but have enhanced redwood adventures with various people who asked to explore together. My 35 years as an arborist opens the doors to unique adventures in the coast redwoods and there are many things I can teach people. This is clarified at redwood guide and tours. Over the years, I had opportunity to explore with Michael Taylor, Chris Atkins and Dr. Steve Sillett who generously shared their knowledge and skill. We found several new discoveries together and explored many groves. Atkins is the one I spent the most time with during the LiDAR redwood measuring. Even if you already read Richard Preston's redwood book, check my book review for The Wild Trees. I added information the book doesn't reveal.
Many largest redwoods are undisclosed but the parks will gladly share a bunch of them like Boyscout redwood, BIG redwood and GIANT redwood listed as #14 and #15 under redwood giants. Other largest 15 coast redwoods have a page. The visitor centers can direct you to 300 to 350 ft. coast redwoods in several parks. Start in essentials for stuff that's easy to share. I also post on Facebook but the nexus is here. There are also pages about awesome & big coast redwoods. If I do not tell where some are located it doesn't matter. Those are shared to show the forest's potential. Just pick some redwood trails and see what outstanding coast redwoods you find. If you slow down, there's plenty of bigs ones to see. Recently I added mystery redwoods without names that include short stories or information related to our redwood exploring: what happened, our thoughts, what was unusual. I haven't spotted Bigfoot but did encounter a Redwood Fairy. The redwoods also prompted my journey into portraiture. I provide photography between Ashland to Crescent City.
Coast Redwoods Facts
Coast Redwood is the only living species of the genus Sequoia. Common names include coast redwood and California redwood. The botanical or scientific name is Sequoia sempervirens and it can be accurate to call them "sequoia" because "giant sequoia" is a common name reserved for Sequoiadendron.
Coast Redwood is evergreen and monoecious with male and female reproductive parts on one tree. Pollination occurs mostly during winter. Apparently, seeds from coast redwoods over 250 yrs. old are more viable. Maximum age can exceed 2300 years. It is the tallest species, exceeding 380 ft., and over 29 ft. diameter at breast height (dbh)
Image: Battery Point Lighthouse near Crescent City, west of Jedediah Smith redwood park.
Foliage leaves are needles about 1 inch long with pointed tips and may have white stripes beneath. Foliage higher up in old coast redwoods may be tiny and almost awl-shaped. Presently, coast redwood exceeds General Sherman's (Sequoiadendron) 1321 points listed on the national champion registry by a substantial margin. Coast redwood's natural range is along the coast of northern California and extreme SW Oregon near Brookings. There is a man-made coast redwood forest in New Zealand.
Also, coast redwood does not require fog for growth but may need it for natural regeneration. They certainly need fog for extreme size and height. But for survival alone, there are good size coast redwoos planted years ago in towns with as little as 19 to 40 inches of yearly rainfall.
Mobile vs. Computer
This main redwood page was the only one partially optimized for mobile devices, with the others designed for computer viewing . Personally I liked the old archaic code better and reverted much of this page back to the old style. It enables easier page updates with the software I prefer
The menu and very top should resize on tiny screens.
Image: Avenue of the Giants passest through Humboldt Redwoods State Park
This resource covers mostly redwood parks of Northern California. Read about lodging, camping, redwood hiking, visitor centers, photography, redwood explorers and canopy research.
The bigger your screen the better to view these coast redwoods. It's amazing how much life gets sucked out of redwood photos on bitty phones.
My comments for redwood trails are in the menu under hiking, listed under 5 park names, plus an extra link to redwoodhikes.com which is very thorough. I share different insight when possible.
There are over 300 Coast Redwood photos in the blog and other pages. The album is on another server, embedded in my pages. In slideshow view if you pause, find text links beneath to open larger files. Then click return to thumbnails
Redwood Parks Differ in Character
The 15 largest coast redwoods (2013) are included because most visitors will never see them, as well as Hyperion the tallest redwood (2006), discovered in Redwood National Park.
The very tallest and the largest (published) are dispersed throughout Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Redwood National and State Parks, with the exception of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. But all the parks have an abundance of very tall and large coast redwoods.
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park has some big redwoods but is often recognized for Damnation Creek trail leading to the ocean, foggy redwoods with "godrays", and Rhododendron blossoms late spring.
Most superlatives are not destinations. Those coast redwoods and others are shown in redwood giants under largest plus awesome & big coast redwoods. A few of them will be landmarks.
There are so many big redwoods in the park, even the greatest ones can blend in. You will have a remarkable trip even if you just see redwoods near trails.
Image: jumping into the Smith River upstream from Jedediah Smith redwoods. Photo from "Slant Bridge" between Hy. 199 & Douglas Park Rd.
The north parks of Humboldt and Del Norte is specifically where coast redwoods reach 380 ft. and over 29 ft. wide. The area stretches near Crescent City, Klamath, Orick, Eureka and toward Garberville.
That region has 5 coast redwood parks with old growth forest and trails. Each coast redwood park is different. Jedediah Smith seems more Jurassic including the spectacular drive along the old Howland Hill Rd. shown below. Redwood National Park feels like a Wilderness experience, with more mountain and fewer visitors during rainy seasons. Humboldt Redwoods is more open and spacious in the understory and seems more like a natural cathedral. Prairie Creek has so much lush vegetation it almost feels tropical, and can be a trail runner paradise with about 70 miles of trails.
Those parks have redwoods are over 100 ft. taller than the little Muir Woods National Monument near San Fran.
4 parks managed as Redwood National and State Parks account for 133,000 acres. Those are Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
Image: Richardson Grove visitor center, south of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Approximately 30 minutes south of Eureka is Humboldt Redwoods State Park with over 50,000 acres, Rockefeller Forest and Avenue of the Giants. Managed separately and has it's own visitor center, one of the best.
90% of people should find a good lead here about coast redwood travel. Photos include Jedediah Smith redwoods, Avenue of the Giants, Prairie Creek redwoods, Del Norte redwoods and Redwood National Park. The emphasis remains on coast redwoods buta images from local places are added.
There are are at least 8 coast redwoods over 370 feet tall (2013). Four were in Redwood National Park and four are in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Visitor centers will not provide maps for those, except possibly the National Geographic redwood in Redwood National Park. But they can easily point you to redwoods 300 to 350 ft. near Avenue of the Giants, Bull Creek Flats, Howland Hill Rd. and Redwood National Park.
Most largest coast redwoods are not landmarks like giant sequoias you may have seen signs and rails. But the park visitor centers have maps to some very large and interesting coast redwoods. A few even have decks. But the coast redwood parks of the far northern coast is a more serene experience than many giant sequoia groves.
Each coast redwood park has its own character and are all worth visiting.
It's Not Just Redwoods
The Redwood Coast is not merely tall and giant coast redwoods. There are beaches, rivers, lagoons, prairies, harbors, lighthouses, campgrounds, art galleries, trails and forests.
Image: strolling through Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
I made an effort to show this in the photos. There is horseback riding, kayaaking, fishing and marathons. Festivals, the Ferndale kenetic sculpture contest and several breweries.
Car buffs can attend the Sea Cruise auto show each October in Crescent City. Down in Klamath there's smoked Salmon, jet boat tours and the Klamath River overlook to spot whale pods.
If you want variety, the redwood coast has it. Links for researcher Dr. Sillett and explorer Michael Taylor used to be provided, but Sillett removed his canopy photos and Taylor removed landmarktrees.net entirely.
The end of the new discovery page offers a hint why they pulled their content.
Most small Redwood Mini Photos were moved to their own page. Those are separate from the coast redwood albums but there is some overlap.
Image: Lupine blooming near Bald Hills Rd. above Redwood National Park. This photo is from April. The floral display is more profuse during certain years. This spot is about 10 miles farther than Lady Bird Johnson Grove
Coast Redwood Hiking & Maps
Use the top menu for my reviews of popular coast redwood trails, official park maps and visitor center contact numbers. They are in the hiking and maps option.
My reviews are listed under:
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- Redwood National Park
- Humboldt Redwoods State Park
I recall seeing redwoodwoodhikes.com maps at the parks visitor center racks. Take a look, those redwood trail maps are worth the purchase. To avoid re-inventing the wheel, I limit being repetitive, adding content when I feel the trail should be described differently or with added emphasis. My experience with evergreens and trees is extensive and there's plenty I can add to the mix. I worked outdoors most of my life from about 1975, and an arborist from 1980, and continuing.
Another excellent coast redwood trail website is provided from the menu, called redwoodhikes.com. Our reviews are not identical. Read both and compare. redwoodhikes.com may whack a rating for traffic sound more than I do. My emphasis is different. I think both of our redwood trail reviews combined will offer you more.
Image: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park near the visitor center. This is the approach to 3 hiking trails. James Irvine trail, Westridge trail and Prairie Creek trail.
I recall seeing redwoodwoodhikes.com maps at the parks visitor center racks. Take a look, those redwood trail maps are worth the purchase. To avoid re-inventing the wheel, I limit being repetitive, adding content when I feel the trail should be described differently or with added emphasis.
redwoodhikes.com is worth 5 stars for redwood hiking destinations, photos, trail ratings, detailed maps and mre. See the 2nd menu next to the hiking heading. I refer to that site for my own adventures.
If you need a good "shot in the arm" but can't go much beyond San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument and Coast Redwoods is an option in Marin County.
Compared to the north coast redwood parks, Muir Woods's redwoods are smaller, but it has plenty of character. The small park 12 miles north of San Fran has 554 acres with 240 acres of old growth. For comparison, that's about 1% the size of Humboldt Redwoods State Park south of Eureka. Or about 10% the size of Forest Park on Portland's west side to give you some idea.
Image: the One Log Truck along Avenue of the Giants. Often parked outside a very nice gift shop
Muir Woods' tallest redwood is under 270 ft. tall, whereas Humboldt and Del Norte have tallest over 350 ft. to 370 ft. If redwoodhikes.com implemented a "serenity scale" to rank Muir Woods for hiking, it could end up as just 1/2 star some days. Let me quote the park's July site alert to clarify:
"Take the Muir Woods Shuttle. Weekends are the busiest time for Muir Woods. Parking limited. Muir Woods is experiencing high numbers of visitors. Traffic and unsafe parking behaviors are adding stress to visitors and residents. Expect delays on Hwy 1 as people drive to and from Muir Woods and local beaches."
Again, Muir Woods may give you that shot in the arm, unless you find the stress. Maybe Muir Woods could be compared to pharmaceutical commercials with disclaimer warnings, and Redwood National and State Parks compared to natural food stores.
Exploring the Coast Redwoods
After many of my own redwood trips, I suggest for travelers from afar to consider lodging reservations rather than camping to get more out of adventure and cover more ground. It buys time, not just a room. If your time is limited, you can skip camping setup, drying tents and waiting for showers.
Coast redwood camping is a lot of fun, but if the forest will take care of you, get a motel or bed & breakfast room. It also provides a place to keep items that may leave you biting your nails about leaving in a car or tent.
Image: Crescent City harbor sunset
Coast redwoods provide hikes and drives ... even swimming. Expect park staff & rangers to be helpful. The rangers at the redwood visitor centers are indispensable.
My time in the redwoods is hiking, camping, photography and exploring. The redwoods are an outdoor museum which led to interesting conversations, new friends around the world, and a few world record discoveries. It's a recreation overlapping my work and education. It literally changed my life, leading me into professional photography also.
Image: Grieg-French-Bell grove at Avenue of the Giants.
Keep in mind that north California has the best places to see redwoods. Oregon has just a little for old growth redwoods and trails. Places to the south like Big Basin and Montgomery Woods are very lovely too, but the coast redwoods of Del Norte and Humboldt are in a league of their own.
The biggest list of giant and tallest coast redwoods discovered over the years came from two men who explored for decades: Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor. They explored alone and with others. Their discoveries provided much of what Dr. Steve Sillett at HSU, researched some years.
Image: Bull Creek Flats in Humbolt coast redwoods
At least in the United States, Michael Taylor's coast redwood exploring almost reminds me of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Michael had the benefit of returning home and certainly didn't face certain dangers that the Corp of Discovery met. But Michael spend years of his life exploring most of the coast redwood parks in California, treading through the wilderness beyond the trails. Read more about: Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor.
Taylor is an interesting fellow, a mechanical engineer who is expert with species ID and forests, understanding algebra and trigonometry. He has an appreciation for gadgets and drones. In June 2011, Michael Taylor, Chris Atkins and myself broadened exploration into Southern Oregon and the Sierra Nevada, adding pines and Douglas fir to the coast redwood adventures.
2008 to 2016 provided opportunities to explore with Michael Taylor, Chris Atkins, Dr. Robert Van Pelt and Dr. Steve Sillett, in Redwood National and State Parks. The days were vigorous and memorable. Part time, during 2 years, there was opportunity to work, locating and measuring tall redwoods related to LIDAR.
After 2014, a few of us invested more of our energy again into the coast redwoods and found some remarkable new champion redwoods. See Discovery under Redwood Giants in the menu to find out more.
Restaurants & Lodging
Here are some restaurant & motels. for dining and lodging in Humboldt and Del Norte counties of Northern California. Most are are clean, affordable and comfortable options.
Curly Redwood Lodge CRESCENT CITY on Highway 101. Just 5 minutes from the redwood park. Huge rooms. This is the one I stay at most often. Some of my photo prints are in the lobby. The covered parking is a treat during fog or rain. There is a restaurant directly across the street and more just a few minutes walk away.
Marlo's Restaurant Greek & Italian CRESCENT CITY. Food was excellent. They may have a lunch buffet. My father was Greek, so this should be fun place to put the meals to the test. The inside was clean and service friendly.
Image: large coast redwood in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
Arcata Stay ARCATA. ,,, Upscale California Lodging accommodations. The only Lodging Network in Arcata with an Excellence Rating by Tripadvisor. The 8 Stays are walking distance to Humboldt State University and downtown.
Discovery Inn EUREKA. First stay at this motel was 2012. Comparable value to Motel 6 nearby. Its a coin toss. Clean room and bath. Fridge and WIFI. Convenient location. On Broadway / Highway 101
Bayview Motel EUREKA. Not a budget motel. On hill overlooking the town and bay. First stay was with two other explorers. We got a 2 Queen Suite & adjoining single King. Nice balcony on 2nd floor
Redwood Hyperion Motel GRANTS PASS, Oregon. If you need a place close to I-5. An extra stepping stone to to Jedediah Smith redwoods if you are too tired for 2 extra road hours to Crescent City
Humboldt Redwoods Inn GARBERVILLE. Liked the convenience of this motel right at the turn around for downtown, and close proximity to restaurants, grocery and fuel. South end of town.
Historic Hiouchi Cafe HIOUCHI / CRESCENT CITY. Located in the quant community of Hiouchi, almost adjacent to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and Smith River. Along redwood highway 199.
Motels, inns, lodging and restaurants continued > Redwood Vacation Lodging
Redwood Parks and Visitor Centers
Redwood National and State Parks visitors centers are perfect for specific questions beyond whatever I provide here. Questions like:
dates are camping reservations available?
- Wedding permits - where can we get one?
- How do I get a camping permit for Redwood National
- Is Howland Hill Road open? Map to Fern Canyon?
Links - Redwoods Parks and Visitors Centers
List of Redwood Park Information Centers & phone
Current Conditions information updates
Image: Redwood Sorrel and Coast Redwoods at Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Humboldt Redwoods State Park - that park's camping & hiking is managed separately from Redwood National and State Parks above. Go to:
Humboldt Redwoods State Park Information
Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association
Here's where I'm at on Photography Workshops ...
Down the road, I hope to offer workshops in the Coast Redwood parks. Technically permits are required, but there are alternative options along main routes and places like Florence Keller park where I did a workshop in 2016. If you have a small group interested, give me a call to see what we can arrange.
My strength leans toward composition and picking the right location for time of day and weather.
I can't be the sharpest tool in the drawer, but I looked at workshop pages of other photographers and realized I like my own photos better than quite a few I see out there.
I did my first workshop, September, 2016, near Crescent City, in a redwood park that didn't require the state park permit. It went smoothly and I hope to help out again.
If professional photographers contact me for help getting around in the redwoods for photography, I will entertain the idea. But keep in mind that Redwood National and State Parks asks for a permit and keeping $2,000,000 insurance. I already have coverage for my other work and my provider can double limits and certificates, but it's somewhat of a hassle for something very non-routine.
If you need comfort of photographng with someone who knows the lay of the land, drop a note and maybe we can arrange something.
Image: Howland Hill Rd. in Jedediah Smith park
To Professional Photographers ...
Technically, the parks require permits for some photography. The center at Crescent City can clarify this. If your equipment is compact like camera, tripod and backpack, no permit is required for landscape photography and redwoods. If you plan to use a model for commercial use that may need a permit, but could be "grey area". I say this, because if a typical visitor poses family for Flickr or Instagram, that can be portfolio-building as much as a photographer posing one person by the same coast redwood.
Also, some models can be friends, and then the playing field is identical to other friend. Light stands or reflectors may be commercial photography from their point of view. Photography workshops need a permit and insurance (why many photographers go under the radar). Scenic photography does not require a permit even if you sell prints.
A group of friends or photographers just getting together casually with cameras and tripods do not need a permit. Oddly, it's nearly identical to a photography workshop when it boils down to the outward presence of the people.
My own work is a combination of photography and artistic. Ansel Adams did likewise with film camera and darkroom.
Wish you well on your photography adventures !!
Image: sunrise at Howland Hill Rd. in Jedediah Smith redwood park. Known as "God Rays"
Photography Tips for
IMO ... the wet season, October - June, is best for redwood photography:
- View corridors are more numerous because deciduous leaves have fallen
- Rain moistens needles intensifying colors.
- Rain washes dust off leaves of ferns and
- The color of moss intensifies
- Lichens on trunks revive size and texture
- Colorful fungi and mushrooms are more abundant
Other Photo Stuff
North California and Redwoods Virtual Photography PIck a 360 degree tour
Images by Lowell Cottle Redwoods, birds and more.
North Coast Photos with Redwoods North Coast
Redwood Image Archaeology Redwood Post Card and Image Archive.
Dr. Van Pelt the Artist. Scientist, and author of Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast.
Image: Trillium Falls trail in Redwood National Park. A fairy girl from Humboldt
Redwood information, facts
Redwood Education Guide Nearly 100 pages. For those who want to learn about coast redwood community and help others.
Provides human history of the redwoods region, science to coast redwood ecosystem, how to conduct a field trip to a redwood park, lessons for a park visit.
Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Along the Eel River, Humboldt Redwoods State Park has over 53,000 acres, old-growth redwoods. 250 camp sites, 100 miles of hiking, biking, riding trails
Redwood Parks Association Established to assist California State Parks. Educational & Interpretive.
The Redwood Park Association merged with North Coast Redwood Interpretive Association. Both have a history funding interpretive staff, events, exhibits, signs, and publications
Redwood Profile by Flower Essence Society. Coast Redwood is Sequoia sempervirens
Highway 199 ~ Redwood Highway Check out the Coast Redwoods Information and Map option too. Hy 199 is the main travel
corridor between Redwood National Park and Crater Lake National Par
Sequoia sempervirens And informative page on Coast Redwoods with info and photos
Coast Redwood and Giant Sequioia: Compare Coast Redwood with Giant Sequoia at Wikipedia.
Exploring, Guides, Tours & Fun
M. D. Vaden & Redwoods Time in the Coast Redwoods with Mario Vaden, aka M. D. Vaden... Exploring and Photography ... Exploring as time permits. Available to those who have a huge appreciation for coast redwoods. Friendly adventure.
Redwood Adventures REDWOOD ADVENTURES has tours, hiking, more. Orick. Family vacation, romantic holiday, wedding. retreats. Full hospitality to visitors of Redwood parks. They know how to cook
The Redwood Coast Nature Guide Jenny Hanson, naturalist and nature guide for the Redwood Coast. Guided trips for individuals, families, and groups, including people with physical limitations.
Local naturalist services to bus tours, conventions and large groups. Based in Eureka. Services from Humboldt Redwoods State Park in the south to Jedediah Smith State Park and Crescent City in the north
Custom Ceramic Murals CERAMIC MURALS & TOUR. See link for more info. Look for Public Murals. This custom artwork is available for public viewing throughout parts of Crescent City.
FYI - the Guide site www.gilbertredwoodexcursions.com is inactive. But Redwood Ed as he's called, is still out and about,. His site www.redwood-ed.com is operational
3 JETBOAT TOURS
Gifts & Souvenirs
Burl n' Drift 28101 Avenue of the Giants. Family owned and operated since 1967. Quality Redwood Souvenirs .... one of the best redwood gift shops
A the Ancient Redwoods RV Park and home of the Hollow Log Truck When you park, look for the Immortal Redwood
Redwoods RV Resort RV, tent and cabin camping under soaring Sitka Spruce, Douglas fir and Coast Redwoods.
KOA Redwoods Campground - Crescent City, California. 17 forested acres
Ancient Redwoods RV Park Home of the Hollow Log Truck in Redcrest. This is near Founders grove a mile north of Redcrest, California, on the world famous Avenue of the Giants.
The Immortal Redwood stands in view.
This is also in close proximity to Founders Grove, Rockefeller Forest and Humboldt Redwoods State Park Visitor Center.
Riverwalk RV Park Fortuna. Campground by the Eel River. Immaculate. Cabins, RV and Tent camping.
M. D. Vaden Cargo Trailer Conversion One version of cargo trailer camping. A growing trend in do-it-yourself camping
Drive Through Redwoods My redwood page. About all 3 Drive Through Redwoods: Chandelier, Shrine and Tour-Thru. It's a fact that the Shrine redwood is disintegrating and I don't recommend it due to safety concerns.
Drive Through Redwood Their redwood page. Leggett Chandelier drive-thru redwood. Gift shop. Dawn to dusk. Best looking of the 3 drive-though coast redwoods.
Drive Through Redwoods Information USDA & Forest Service pages about drive through coast redwood.
Redwood Giants to Redwood Book
The genesis of this coast redwood content began years ago as one single page about the Grove of Titans . Like yearly growth rings it expanded.
Eventually, I wanted to offer something solid and portable, weaving coast redwood adventures, education and images. In 2016, I designed a small photo album book called Coast Redwood Adventures.
It's very petite and more of a photo album book with a few words to tell about the photos. These are hard cover and I hope to sign most of them. The Curly Redwood Lodge may have one near the lobby. Very few will be printed. This is testing the waters for something bigger someday in the future.
It also has the first top-to-bottom photo of Hyperion ever published To read more about the photo album book or to order, see:
Coast Redwood Adventures by Mario Vaden
Prints & Canvas by M. D. Vaden
For anyone interested, my prints or canvas hang for sale at a few art galleries, including two in Crescent City.
Recently, I ordered some 40" x 60" canvas prints of a new coast redwood discovery, one of the widest coast redwoods ever photographed. It may be for sale in one of those redwood coast galleries. The following is one I have in mind for a 14 x 14 canvas to hang in the Crescent Harbor Art Gallery or Second Street Art Gallery. A stand of coast redwoods exhibiting blue foliage viewed between two huckleberry species.