Humboldt Redwoods State Park: The Complete Guide

Trail in Humboldt Redwoods State Park
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Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Address
17119 Avenue of the Giants, Weott, CA 95571, USA
Phone +1 707-946-2263

No park in the state of California can beat Humboldt Redwoods State Park in terms of size and old-growth treasures. In fact, the park is twice as large as the city of San Francisco and contains the largest expanse of ancient redwood trees left on planet earth, compiling one-third of the park's acreage. The densest and most impressive stands of redwood trees (sequoia sempervirens) can be found in the park along Bull Creek and the Eel River or by driving the 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants, where you can cruise between trees as tall as 15-story buildings. You can also hop out of your car and enjoy over 100 miles of hiking and biking trails, expansive fisheries that include salmon and steelhead trout, and camping year-round under the majestic canopies.

Things to Do

People flock to Humboldt Redwoods State Park to experience the grandeur of the world's largest continuous stretch of old-growth redwoods. Since 1921, the Save the Redwoods League (a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of redwood trees) has raised millions to build and expand this park into a mecca for hiking, camping, kayaking and canoeing, swimming, bicycling, picnicking, horseback riding, and of course, tree gazing.

One of the most popular drives in the park is the Avenue of the Giants (CA-254). And Founder's Grove, a conveniently located redwood attraction, resides in a pullout along this route. Take an easy walk through a forest that was once home to the Dyerville Giant, a tree that dwarfed the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, this giant tree is gone now, but you can get up close to other breathtaking wonders.

While you're at it, check out the California Federation of Women's Clubs Grove, just south of Founder's Grove. This grove features a four-chimneyed hearthstone called "The Four Fireplaces" designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan. It's also a nice place to walk in a grove that gets much less attention than its more popular neighbors. Pack a lunch and picnic near the Eel River.

This Eel River runs the length of the park, providing opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. During the fall and winter, you can fish for salmon and steelhead trout on a catch-and-release basis only. Or, go horseback riding. Many local outfitters offer guided riding treks that include stopping at the park's sites, climbing coastal mountains, and listening to the history and culture of the park told by knowledgeable naturalists.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park has more than 100 miles of trails for hikers and bicyclists, including loops that take you through the tall trees, as well as hikes that take you up a mountain or along the river.

Best Hikes & Trails

Hiking Humboldt Redwoods State Park may make you feel like you're in fairytale land. With towering trees, mossy undergrowth, and babbling rivers, the scene is one to cherish for a lifetime. An online map and hiking guide will help you plan your route along 100 miles of trails.

  • Gould Grove Nature Trail: This easy walk is located directly across from the visitor's center and features a short .6-mile loop that takes you past 300-foot trees, the remains of early logging camps, and a spur trail that leads to the river.
  • Bull Creek Trail North and South: Intermediate hikers can head out on the 7.5-mile Bull Creek Trail, offering a varied view of the Rockefeller Forest. Check with rangers to make sure summer bridges are installed so you can complete the loop, or just complete one section (north or south) to cut the hike in half. You can access the trailhead 1.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.
  • Addie Johnson Trail: This short 2.2-mile trail gains elevation fast, giving you a quick workout while meandering through redwood forests to a clearing that marks the gravesite of Addie Johnson who, along with her husband, Tosaldo Johnson, settled the area. Start the hike at an unmarked turnout 0.1 miles west of the Big Trees area on Mattole Road.
  • Grasshopper Peak: Start out early for this tough 13.4-mile hike that gains 3,100 feet of elevation and summits Grasshopper Peak. Expert hikers who embark on this trek are rewarded at the top with 100-mile views in all directions. Head out on a clear day and make sure to pack enough food and water. The trail can be accessed 5.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.

Scenic Drives

The scenic, 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants is the most accessible and impressive drive in the park. Along the way, you'll encounter towering redwood groves, as well as old mining towns, like Scotia, and the pristine beaches of Shelter Cove.

You can also head out Matthole Road, which traverses the park from east to west and accesses many of the park's hiking trails. The road, a single lane in some spots, winds up and down, and then descends towards the coast. Along this route, you will encounter many impressive redwood trees, small ranches, and a breathtaking view of the coast. Take this drive on a dry day, as roads can be impassable when wet. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is strongly recommended.

Where to Camp

If you dream of camping among the redwood trees, Humboldt Redwoods State Park is far more pleasant of an experience than crowded Yosemite National Park in the summertime. The three campgrounds here have ample space between all 250 campsites and are impeccably clean. Some sites can accommodate trailers, campers, and motorhomes up to 24 feet long. There are no hookups in the park, however, so you will have to access water at nearby spigots.

  • Burlington Campground: Located near the visitor center, Burlington Campground is the only campground in the park that's open in the winter. It's located in a second-growth forest with huge tree stumps scattered around, which some people (and kids) find fascinating. The sites are flat and can accommodate trailers, yet RVs may have a hard time navigating the winding roads. Showers and bathrooms are located on-site.
  • Hidden Springs Campground: This campground is located near the town of Myers Flat and is the park's largest campground. Nestled in a second-growth redwood forest with sites that are shady and private, this 1950s-built site is intended for tent camping. Still, there are a few designated sites for trailers and RVs. Dense huckleberry shrubs make up the understory of the forest and can provide a feast if you time it right. New bathrooms and pay showers (bring lots of quarters!) are located on-site.
  • Albee Creek Campground: Located west of U.S. Highway 101, Albee Creek is the smallest and nicest campground in the park, sitting just at the western edge of Bull Creek Flats. A few sites lie in the shade of a second-growth redwood forest, while others are situated at the edge of a sunny meadow, offering great views. This out-of-the-way campground provides an ideal basecamp for hikers, with showers and restrooms on-site.

Where to Stay Nearby

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is nestled deep within the forest in a somewhat secluded part of the state, making lodging limited, yet available. Along the Avenue of the Giants, you can find small towns with modest inns and hotel options, as well as a plethora of Airbnb rental homes.

  • Meyers Inn: The Meyers Inn bed and breakfast is the closest lodging option to the park. Located in Myers Flats, it's technically within park boundaries. Step back in time as you enter the lobby filled with antique furniture and collectibles. Rooms are modest and include breakfast as part of your overnight stay.
  • Redcrest Resort: Ten cozy cabins and a larger vacation home make up this small resort that also serves as an RV park. Located on the Avenue of Giants in the town of Redcrest, this resort offers family entertainment like ping pong, volleyball, badminton, tetherball, horseshoes, and swings. Pets are welcome and there's a hot tub on site.
  • Scotia Inn: The historic, seasonal Scotia Inn, located in the town of Scotia and built in 1923, used to be a stagecoach stop between the Bay Area and Eureka, California. Stay the night in one of its charming rooms, and then dine at the property's Mexican restaurant, Miguel's, after a long day of hiking in the redwoods.
  • Miranda Gardens Resort: Miranda Gardens Resort offers nine cottages, an outdoor pool, a gazebo, a basketball court, ping pong, and a swing set. This family-style lodging spot in Miranda, California makes you feel like you're staying at a summer camp. Several dining options are located across the street and televisions and free wi-fi is available in each cottage.

How to Get There

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is 20 miles north of the town of Garberville and 45 miles south of Eureka, just off U.S. Highway 101 and along the Avenue of the Giants.

The easiest way to get there is by car, however, you can fly into the regional California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport, which is 15 miles north of Eureka, and drive from there. The closest international airports are in San Francisco and Sacramento, both about a four-hour drive from the park.

Accessibility

The park provides accessible parking, picnicking, campsites, restrooms, and trails. All three of the campgrounds offer ADA-compliant restrooms and showers, with paved pathways to the facilities. The campfire center at the Burlington Campground offers accessible seating, as well as access to the stage. The Founder's Grove, William's Grove, and California Federation of Women's Clubs Grove day-use areas all have accessible parking, picnicking, and restrooms. Hiking trails, like the Drury-Chaney Loop Trail, the Gould Grove Nature Loop Trail, the Fleishmann Grove Trail, the Founder’s Grove Loop Trail, and the Rockefeller Loop Trail can all be accessed by a wheelchair.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Humboldt Redwoods State Park is open year-round, but the visitor center is closed on major holidays.
  • In late summer, keep an eye out for algae warnings on the river. When the water is low, blue-green algae blooms can be hazardous to humans and animals.
  • Poison oak grows in the park and can cause severe rashes for some people, who give it the nickname "itchy rash vine." Familiarize yourself with the plant's features before heading out on a hike.
  • The endangered marbled murrelet (a bird related to the puffin) nests in the park. Help its species flourish by keeping your campsite clean and being careful not to drop food while you're hiking. Food scraps attract troublesome ravens, crows, and Stellar’s jays, who will find and eat marbled murrelet chicks and eggs.
  • Cell phone reception is spotty in the park and in neighboring towns. Your phone's GPS may give you an accurate driving route while you have access, but you won't be able to follow it when you lose service. To navigate without interruption, go old-school and buy a map.
  • Two marathon races take place in Humboldt Redwoods in May and October, sometimes closing the park's main road for up to six hours.
  • The park has a healthy population of black bears. Storing your food properly and practicing bear awareness while camping and hiking are essential for avoiding a dangerous encounter.
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