by Mario Vaden
For coast redwood photography and hiking (walking), Cal-Barrel Rd. in Prairie Creek is a superb choice if you are okay with using an old road tucked away off the main parkway. If the gate is locked, that just prevents vehicles. Visitors can still go up there. In fact, it's one of the few areas where you can hike in redwood parks with a dog.
There are some gorgeous views up this road with photo opportunities any time of day. A few redwoods have caves in them too, with window-like openings that offer fun experimentation with photo composition. Cal-Barrel Rd. is an excellent choice to improvise for a redwood hike.
For maps, check with the parks visitor centers. But it's easy to find. Enter Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on Drury Parkway, either from the north or south end, and make your way near the visitor center which is close to the wide open Elk Prairie. Cal-Barrel Rd., marked with a sign, is barely a 20 second drive north of the visitor center's driveway. You can park at the visitor center, along the Parkway at turnouts, or even near the gate a few hundred feet into Cal-Barrel Rd.
Photo: View of redwoods at Cal-Barrel Rd. in Prairie Creek
The image above is a color photo I changed to a B&W, and you can see how nice the towering redwoods can look along stretches of this route.