Redwood forests hold a special place in our hearts. Mighty giants so old they have lived through hundreds of years of people moving through them and animals calling their forest home. The air feels so soft if that can be a thing, and all of our stresses melt away whenever we are in a redwood forest. Now imagine camping along the ocean near the redwoods…it is magical! This might be why we are drawn to them so often!
The last time we visited Humboldt County we stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast just above Trinidad. This time we were camping just above Trinidad at
Patrick’s Point Sue-meg SP. Leaving work early on a Friday we were able to make it to the campsite in time to set up and catch the sunset. We couldn’t believe how close we were to the bluffs overlooking the ocean! The bosslady was giddy with excitement as she explored our small piece of the campground. And then the rain started. So we ate our pre-made dinner in the truck. We have a tailgate tent for the back of the truck to give us a little extra space getting in and out of our sleeping space. This came in handy when it was raining!
After dinner, we stayed in and played cards and drank wine by the light of our lanterns. Knowing we had a weekend packed full of adventure ahead and not able to hang out by a fire we called it a night earlier than normal. Hearing the raindrops falling on the truck roof and the ocean waves in the background were so soothing! Both of us slept well. In the morning, the sun was shining and off we went (after a hot shower of course!). Driving out of the campground we noticed several little trails we wanted to check out when we returned that afternoon. This campground would be great even if you spent all day there and never left! It is seriously so beautiful there!
Redwood National and State Park
We had reached out to our Instagram community for some ‘must-see’ places and Bald Hills Road was mentioned a couple of times. We stopped in at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center to pick up a permit for Bald Hills Road and to check in with the rangers, who know the parks the best, to see if there were any other places we shouldn’t miss. We were right on target to hit the highlights of Redwood National Park. A free permit is required after a certain point on Bald Hills Road and also to be able to access the dirt road going down to Tall Trees Grove.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove
Our first stop on this road was Lady Bird Johnson Grove. We made it just in time to join a ranger-guided hike through the 1-mile loop of some amazing redwoods. We learned so much on this short hike! How redwoods tether their roots and help each other hang on during storms. How they can ‘communicate’ with each other across the forest. Some things we already knew and had to stop answering the questions like smarty pants and let the kids on the hike try to guess. It started to rain a bit so most people left the guided hike at our ending point but we continued on the loop with the ranger. So worth it! She was great and so excited about teaching us and everyone else about this amazing forest.
Highly recommend stopping in and seeing this beautiful bit of the redwoods and attending one of the ranger-guided hikes! The parking lot is not large so get there early as it is a popular site!
Redwood Creek Overlook
This is a great little scenic overlook not to be missed! For one there’s a restroom there and the last one on Bald Hills Road. Side note, the road after this point requires the permit and an empty bladder as it is mostly dirt and bumpy! At the overlook, they have some great informative signs that explain what you are looking at and a bit of history around the area. From here you can look down into the canyon below and on a clear day, you can see the ocean! Definitely check out the canyon below as that is the next stop.
Tall Trees Grove
At the visitor center when you receive your permit, they also provide you with the Tall Trees gate code for that day. There’s a little sign at the gate explaining what you need to do. Go through and enjoy the road as it winds down through the forest toward the canyon floor. Six miles of dirt/gravel road on a damp truck from the recent rain made for a super dirty truck by the time we reached the trailhead! It just made the truck a little sexier. 😉 Thankful we didn’t have to hike down this far, we hopped out of the truck and geared up for our longest hike of the day…4miles. We are on vacation and trying to explore as much as possible so no need to do crazy long hikes! 🙂
The parking lot was half full so we thought we would be seeing several people on the hike. We were so wrong! The only restroom here is in the parking lot. No need for a map here as it is a nice little balloon hike. One and a half miles down, short loop around the Tall Tree, and one and a half miles back up!
We were not prepared for the immense amount of beauty we saw on this hike. Seriously. The bosslady kept stopping and looking up and around at the lush ferns along the forest floor and the healthy redwoods. It was a bit overwhelming. Rhododendrons were in bloom. Ferns were swaying in the breeze. The forest was quiet.
This is one of the most beautiful redwood forests we have been to. Just looking back at the photos brings a sense of calm. Once you reach the bottom of the trail, the trees become even more massive. Take your time and walk around the small level loop. You will see a sign for Tall Tree. A tree that used to have the claim to fame of being the tallest until someone found one even taller. Still an amazing sight!
The loop is level and so dense with ferns. The ground is super soft to walk on. The air is so fresh. Toward the river, the forest starts to change and becomes more lush with larger ferns, fewer redwoods, and more moss-covered trees giving it an eerie feel. We felt so small compared to life in this little canyon forest. It’s good to be reminded we are just a tiny cog in this place called Earth yet we have the most opportunity to keep it beautiful.
Climbing back up out of the canyon wasn’t difficult as we stopped so many times in awe of our views. More people were heading down the trail at this time of day than earlier. We were happy we had it mostly to ourselves!
Bald Hills Road
Back at the parking lot we hopped back in the truck and headed back up to Bald Hills Road. We opted to take the road further in search of the beautiful purple lupine that we had seen posted on Instagram. Reaching the top of the road, the forest begins to disappear and grassy sloping meadows fill the view out the window. The road is on a bit of a ridge as we could see canyons on either side of us going for days. Pulling over every time we saw patches of lupine and enjoying the view it took us about an hour to get to the end of the road. There is a trail there that you can walk out to the edge and probably have some more amazing views but we opted to head back down the road and back to the campground to explore there.
Bald Hills Road should definitely be on your list to see!
Arriving back at the campground a little hungry we cooked our dinner early and relaxed then headed to Patrick’s Point to watch the sunset. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! This is such a beautiful spot! It was crowded but not overly crowded. Several other photographers and tourists were roaming around the short trails out to the point and down to the beach. Love love love how the trees meet the ocean here. You walk out from the trees and are greeted by waves crashing on the rocky shore. Incredible views and an amazing spot to watch the sun go down with your best friend next to you. Sunsets since this trip have been really hard to compare. Truly cannot get over how beautiful this place is…and we got to spend a weekend there!
We made our way back to the campsite and enjoyed a game of Uno by the fire with a bottle of wine. Our thoughts were just that life is good. Would love to go back to this campground again.
Up bright and early to beat the crowds we packed up our campsite, had coffee/tea at our favorite spot just steps away from our campsite with ocean views, then headed off to Fern Canyon. This was one of the main reasons we went back to the redwoods. On our last visit, our little bug couldn’t make it across the stream so now we have the truck, sort of specifically for spots like this. 🙂
Fern Canyon is a unique 50-foot high canyon lined with giant ferns of various varieties. It is located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. When you take the turn off for Davison Road you will probably be greeted by several Elk grazing. Love seeing them! Stop and chat (not too close) or wave as you go by. The road to Fern Canyon is a tight, twisty, bumpy, dirt/mud 6-mile road that winds through a young redwood forest. It is all part of the adventure! Pay your fee at the kiosk just before Gold Bluffs Beach and continue on the gravel/dirt, bumpy road for 1 mile. Here you will reach a stream that is about 10 feet wide that you will either have to park before or splash your way through. Then another mile to the trailhead for Fern Canyon.
Head north from the parking lot on the nice and dry trail. Hang a right and follow the water by hopping over the rocks and into fern canyon. Prepare to be in awe! There was a gentle breeze flowing through the canyon causing the ferns to dance as we made our way through the stream. There were no footbridges yet and since it had rained the day before there was probably a little more water than normal for summer. There were also a ton of people! I get it, its gorgeous, it’s easy to get to and people of all ages and abilities can enjoy it.
Walking through the canyon we kept stopping to just view this incredible place. We have not seen this before and we were constantly looking around finding beauty surrounding us. Since there were so many people we ended up just cruising straight through the stream and not caring that our feet were sopping wet. We didn’t want to miss anything just to keep our feet dry! All of the other nature lovers were super friendly.
Wandering through for about a mile we turned around at the steps that take you up above the canyon and headed back. It was so great to see the kids and adults of all ages enjoying this spot!
Back at the parking we dried our feet off and hopped back in the truck to make another splash through the stream crossing.
Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway
The rangers had told us the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway was a must-see before we left Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park so we left fern canyon and headed north. Wow! The scenic drive through the redwood forest would be beautiful on its own but definitely pull off the road when you see other cars parked. It is so worth it!
The hubs pulled over for the Big Tree. Believe us, the trees are big! We wandered through the short trail and found the Big Tree. At approximately 1,500 years old and 23 feet in diameter it definitely qualifies as a big tree! All of the redwoods were so large in this little redwood forest. Seriously. It was amazing to see them saved from logging since they were so easy to get to. Can you imagine feeling, seeing, hugging a tree this old? So many generations of people on this beautiful earth have walked past, sat beside, sought shelter under, and viewed these lovely trees. One day, our grandchildren will be viewing the same tree we were lucky enough to see…and their grandchildren. Something amazing to think about as we made our way through this little forest back to our truck.
Leaving this area after seeing so much beauty was difficult to do. This whole work thing sure gets in the way of exploring the beautiful wonders we have not far from us. 🙂
Have you been to Prairie Creek? What was your favorite part?
Make your reservations at Sue-meg as early as you can! Take as much time to explore this gorgeous area as you can! Our campsite was $35/night, coin-op showers, fire ring, picnic table, food locker, and enough room for the truck and a tent. Campfire wood for sale at the camp host trails to the bluffs and beach accessible from the campsite. Enjoy the ocean air and waves crashing from your campsite!
**Note as of October 2021, Patrick’s Point State Park was renamed to Sue-meg State Park to more accurately reflect the history and culture of the Yurok Tribe who have historically tended the land.**
Things We Love
We have been working on improving our camping experience and this includes proper toiletries. We found these microfiber towels that not only dry you off like a chamois but dry just as fast! The price was good and so great to not have to worry about your towel not drying being at the coast in higher humidity. These feel a little like you are using a chamois on your body but totally dry you off and dry super fast! It helps us be able to just hop back in the truck after showering and not have to worry about the towel not drying in time for the next shower.
Where Else Can You Find Us?
The bosslady did a few different videos and posted it to YouTube for this trip! Check them out below!