After exploring Point Reyes National Seashore, it was time to head to Redwood National Park. Our initial intentions were to head straight to Elk Prairie campground where we had reservations for the night, but we found some worthwhile stops along our way. Driving up beautifully scenic Highway 101 had us stopping numerous times to take photos. The drive was filled with coastal views, winding roads, cliffs, and of course, the Redwoods.
At about halfway to Redwood National Park, we saw a sign for a “Drive-Thru Tree”, and spontaneously decided to check it out. We were due for a rest stop to stretch our legs anyway, so it was a good stopping point. Located in Leggett, CA, the tree was cut open in the 1930s and is estimated to be about 2,000 years old.
We stayed overnight at Elk Prairie Campground within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park with just enough time to set up camp before dark. The next morning we took a beautiful drive along the Newton B Drury Parkway. Our first destination was Fern Canyon. We parked at Gold Bluff’s Beach, which is under a mile hike to Fern Canyon. Seeing the 50-foot walls covered in various types of fern was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It is so peaceful standing in the canyon and just taking it all in, it feels like you’re back in prehistoric times. (So much that it was used in the movie The Lost World: Jurassic Park).
The hike in to Fern Canyon is very easy and is a part of a 1 mile loop. If you’re up for walking on and climbing over tree trunks you can go deeper into the canyon. You can also continue to another trail that elevates to a ridge above the canyon. The hike itself is fairly easy, and suitable for really anyone, but it’s a very moist area, so be sure to have proper footwear.
Continuing on, we took a short drive to see the Big Tree. After driving through the wondrous Redwood forest, you couldn’t imagine anything more magnificent. That is until you stand along side a 304 foot tall tree and understand how it got it’s name. The tree is about 1500 years old and pretty impressive. We look like ants in the photo below.
After a beautiful day filled with Redwoods, we were ready to head to the backcountry. Read our next post about backcountry camping and an “off-the-map” experience.