Friday, June 20, 2014

Cadra Point Loop Trail

After our hike at Enderts Beach, we drove back into Crescent City and made a quick stop at the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center.  Although the gift shop was closed, we were able to view the various mammal rehabilitation enclosures & talk to a volunteer who took the time to tell us about the current occupants, answered our questions, and even took a picture for us.

One of the current occupants at the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center
The center is run entirely by volunteers and donations with 100% of those donations used to feed the animals. On their website there is a link which allows a percentage of any purchase on to be donated to their facility.

Driving northwest out of Crescent City, we soon arrived at the Lake Earl Wildlife Area.  Along with Tolowa Dunes State Park and Point St. George Heritage Area,  these three areas make up the Tolowa Coast Trails.

Besides the numerous trails available to hike, these areas feature a campground, canoe & kayaking access on some of the lagoons and lakes, and trails for horse riding or bicycling. Check out their website for more information and a map.

We hiked the Cadra Point Loop Trail, a 4.2 mile loop.

Although there were side trails to viewpoints along the Lake Earl Coastal Lagoon, most were overgrown with tall weeds/grass so we opted to stick with the main trail.  The trail itself is still being developed and currently consists of two tire ruts through the fields.

The Cadra Point Loop Trail
Since we stayed on the main loop trail, we did not get a real good view of Lake Earl or Lake Tolowa, but we did get great views of the McLaughlin Pond and Beaver Pond.

McLaughlin pond view from the trail

Beaver Pond covered with lilypads

It was a nice hike but very warm since the sunshine was still out in full force. As we finished the loop it brought to an end our hiking for this trip.  In three days we had hiked 7 different trails totaling almost 25 miles with countless incredible sights and views.  That's why we love to hike!!

Now it was time to head back into Crescent City for Dutch Bros iced coffee and more Jacuzzi time!  Yes hiking is rough but it does have benefits!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol (& Maggie too)

Enderts Beach/Coastal Trail

After spending two days hiking through some of the main areas of Redwood National Park, we decided on Day 3 to go coastal.  Just south of Crescent City we turned off Highway 101 on Enderts Beach Road and drove till it ended in a parking lot at the trailhead for the Coastal Trail.  This area is part of the Redwood National Park, specifically Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. If you are a backpacker, this trail might be for you since the Coastal Trail begins here and wanders south along the coast and through the redwoods for 70 miles.  Today though we were only hiking a short distance on the Coastal trail and then taking a side trail down to Enderts Beach.

The trail was an easy hike along a path lined with various wildflowers that provided us with spectacular views of the coast.

Oh what a view!!
Some portions of the trail were like hiking through a tunnel of undergrowth and trees.

The Coastal trail enters a living tunnel
It didn't take long for us to arrive at the side trail to the beach where we enjoyed the view atop a large rock formation.  A portion of the base of this rock formation had an opening which provided some great picture taking opportunities.

Enderts Beach is more like a cove than a beach, but we took time to walk along the shoreline to check out all of the various rocks washed up by the waves and enjoy the sights and sound of the ocean.  We did disturb a group of seagulls who were probably surprised to see people since this beach is often overlooked and not visited.

Our return to the car provided a second opportunity to view all of the wildflowers again as well as take in the views of the coast one last time.  Here are some of the wildflower pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Despite being a short hike, it was a nice change of pace after hiking among the redwood trees the last two days. Now it was on to our last hike & a visit to the Lake Earl Wildlife Refuge.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol (& Maggie too)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

James Irvine - Fern Canyon - Davison Road - Miner's Ridge Trail Loop

After hiking 3 shorter trails on Day 1 at Redwood National Park, Day 2 would feature two hikes: one just 0.2 miles long, the other 11.6 miles long.  We drove to the Prairie Creek Visitor Center again and this time we had no problems finding a parking spot. Maybe that was because everyone was busy taking pictures of the elk that had made their way into the meadow.  We walked a short distance and took some pictures too before beginning our long hike.

The 11.6 mile loop trail we hiked consists of 4 trails: James Irvine, Fern Canyon, Davison Road, and Miner's Ridge.  It is ranked as one of the world's best redwood hikes.

We started the hike just like yesterday's Big Tree Loop, but branched off at the James Irvine trail.  This trail took us through a very lush creek valley area of the park with large areas of ferns and undergrowth, along with the big redwood trees.  Many portions of this trail had bridges or wooden walkways that would normally help you cross water, but all such areas were dry.

It was wet enough though for a few Banana Slugs to make a run (can they do that?) across the trail.

Banana slug on the run....

After almost 5 miles of hiking through this green wonderland, we finally came to and descended into Fern Canyon.  If you ever visit Redwoods National Park, you need to see this canyon.  We hiked to it, but there is also access via Davison road.  The canyon has 50 foot walls lined with ferns and a creek flowing down the middle. The park puts temporary crossing bridges in place during the busy summer season.

Carol & Maggie use one of the temporary bridges to cross the creek

This portion of our hike was the highlight. We'll let the pictures do the talking:

We did come to one area where trees had jammed up and seemed to block the trail.  But we found our way through and enjoyed hiking through this amazing and beautiful canyon - a mere 0.6 miles long.

Tree blockage along Fern Canyon.....we did make it through.

After arriving at the Fern Canyon parking lot, we were faced with two options for continuing our hike.  We could hike through brush and across a creek to the beach and then walk along the beach for 1.2 miles, or hike the Davison road down to the Gold Bluffs Beach campground.  Since there is an elk herd in this area and it was calving season and the creek area would have to be walked around, we opted for the less scenic Davison road option.

About halfway to Gold Bluffs Beach, Glenn spotted a tree with large antlers.  Those antlers belonged to three LARGE bull elks that were resting in the shade.  They were BIG, and we were about 30 yards away. We did take a few pictures and then moved on, not wanting to get closer and make the local 6 o'clock news.

Big Elk along Davison road
Once we arrived at Gold Bluffs Beach campground, we took a much needed lunch break at a campsite. We had already hiked more than half of the loop, but we were tired and it was very warm weather for the area.

Our last leg of the hike was along the Miner's Ridge trail.

The last stretch of our long loop hike

The trail starts by following a road to the tsunami survival area.  It then wound through much thicker undergrowth and we had to almost bushwhack our way through some portions of this trail.  Eventually we returned to more open forest with lots of redwood trees that included lots of segments with large tree roots.

Start of the Miner's Ridge trail heading up to the tsunami survival area

The beautiful Tiger Lily

This hike took us 5-1/2 hours to complete and we were definitely tired when we arrived back at the visitor center.  It was an incredible and beautiful hike that we would recommend to anyone who visits Redwood National Park.  Fern Canyon, as mentioned before, was the highlight.

Even though we were tired, we still had unfinished business from Day 1.  When we hiked the Big Tree Loop trail on Day 1, we evidently took a wrong turn and missed seeing the Big Tree -- largest in girth from bottom to top.  So we drove along the Drury parkway to the Big Tree trail turnout and hiked 0.2 miles to the tree. Of course by this time the batteries on our camera were dead, so we did not get any pictures of the Big Tree.

So we finished the day with 2 hikes -- 11.8 miles.

We still had one more day to hike and would have to look at our options in the evening after some time soaking in the Jacuzzi.-yes, hiking is tough!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol (& Maggie too)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Big Tree Loop Trail

Having hiked the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail and the Trillium Falls trail, we finished out our first day at Redwoods National Park by hiking one more short trail.

The Prairie Creek Visitor Center is like grand central station for hiking in the redwoods.  There are numerous trailheads and connector trails located in this area which makes it a popular destination and a tough place to find a parking spot.

Pick a trail, any trail - lots to choose from.
After eating our lunch and being stalked by a Steller's Jay, we began our hike of the Big Tree Loop trail. This loop takes the Prairie Creek trail up to the Big Tree area where it connects with the Foothill trail and then the Cathedral Tree trail before finishing back at the visitor center.  This hike is 3.2 miles and takes you through some of the biggest redwoods in the park and is another of those great introduction hikes to the park.

Beware the stalking Steller's Jay
The trail begins with a large wooden bridge that crosses Prairie Creek and takes you quickly into groves of large redwood trees.  Following our map closely (since there are many trails branching off from this access) we successfully turned off this trail and onto the Prairie Creek trail.

Time to hike!

Wooden bridge area at start of our hike.  The trees are part of the bridge!

Although we would not hike all of the Prairie Creek trail, we hiked enough to enjoy various views of the creek while being constantly surrounded by large redwood trees.  There are benches at different points of this trail for those who want to go at a slower pace or just take in the surroundings.

One of many bench areas along this beautiful trail.

We did encounter a couple of down redwood trees across the trail.  Since these trees are too big to move off the trail, tunnels were cut through them allowing us to walk through two different redwood trees.

One of the two tree tunnels on the Prairie Creek trail

Carol & Glenn at the tunnel tree
Carol & Maggie at the tunnel tree

The trail eventually took us to the Drury Parkway, which is a scenic 13 mile stretch of road through the park.  We crossed the parkway and instead of taking a direct trail to the Big Tree Area, we walked down the parkway to a Hunnewell-Donald Memorial Grove sign per a hiking guide suggestion.  This route would connect with the Foothill trail and then the Cathedral Trees trail and provide us with more redwoods and less noise from Drury Parkway, both of which sounded good to us.

As we hiked along the Foothill trail we somehow missed the Big Tree (hard to do when it is the largest redwood tree (girth) from top to bottom).  Apparently we should have turned right when we turned left or something like that.  We still saw plenty of beautiful giant redwoods, especially when we reached the Cathedral Tree trail.

Big Trees!
As our hike neared its end, we reached the Drury Parkway again.  We hiked up the embankment and crossed, arriving back at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center to complete our first day of hiking.

Day 1 -- 3 hikes -- 7.4 miles. -- amazing beauty!  What a great start to our visit.

Now it was time to get some rest as our hike on day 2 would be one of the top redwood hikes in the world and a challenging 11.6 miles in length.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol (& Maggie too)