There is a great deal to see and do in the Redwoods. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to do during your visit to the Redwoods. There are Redwoods National Parks, State Parks, and beaches all intertwined in the same region. After researching the area and having limited time during our visit, I decided on a list of activities for our group to do while visiting the Redwoods. Below are the top two activities that our group would now call “must dos” if you plan to visit the Redwoods. These two were clearly the winners for both old and young.
Hike at Big Tree Wayside
My sweet friend Artemis gave us this recommendation, as she had been here before.
It was a winner! Out of all the hikes we did this one was the coolest. It is less traveled, so you get to actually experience wilderness among the trees without being in crowds. The parking lot here is small, but even when we arrived mid-day it was not full. That may not always be the case, so early morning arrival is advisable if you plan to go on a weekend.
The Big Tree Wayside is located on the south end of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Again, the Redwoods State and National Parks are intertwined in this region and it is often difficult to differentiate which is which. A map from the National Park headquarters is helpful in navigating this area. We stopped into the Kuchel Visitor’s Center to get free maps before we started our adventure. The rangers here are extremely helpful.
The Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway splits off from Hwy 101 just north of the town of Orick. The scenic parkway then runs parallel to 101 for eight miles. It will then reconnect with 101.
The Big Tree Wayside has a variety of trails that begin from the Big Tree Wayside parking lot. There are bathrooms in this parking lot, but no picnic tables. We ate lunch here after our hike. We had the kids sit in the back of the pickup to eat, so they were not running around the parking lot. We had three families with a total of 11 kids, and my parents in our group. It was a big crew, but this stop was a favorite for everyone.
The trails at Big Tree Wayside that we can recommend are the Circle Hike and Cathedral Trail. Take a photo of the signage at the trailhead before you head out on your hike, because it can be confusing with all the different trails connecting together in this area. Having the photo on your smart phone will make it easier to navigate yourself back to the parking lot if you wander down trails and find yourself a little lost (this may or may not have happened to our group). We found our way back thanks to the photo of the trail map on my smart phone.
The Cathedral Trail was amazing. There are fallen trees that the kids were able to climb onto. They also climbed inside a tree that was burned and hallowed out on the inside. There were some giant trees to see on this path that were magnificent. It is a dirt path but was easy enough for those in our group who had some knee issues. For a trail where you may need to use a wheelchair or stroller, I then recommend Lady Bird Johnson Grove. It appears to be wheelchair accessible in most parts (however not actually ADA compliant). The hikers bridge to cross Bald Hills Road is apparently too high a slope to receive ADA approval. However, the path is aggregate/wood and ranges from 4-10 feet wide. Service animals are welcome on this trail.
Check out our photos below of our hike at Big Tree Wayside. We hiked the Circle Trail and Cathedral Trails. It was a great adventure for all ages and the trees here did not disappoint!
The Trees of Mystery
The second recommendation I have is to visit The Trees of Mystery. This is a cool place where you walk on canopy trails. They are rope and wood bridges suspended high in the trees. It is not for anyone who has a fear of heights. For everyone else it is a great adventure and lots of fun!
Below is information from their website at www.treesofmystery.net.
Trees of Mystery- Walking the Canopy Trail
As you walk the trail you will be able to see some beautiful sky, and below some extraordinary lush foliage. Making memories with family and friends is one of the special moments always remembered.
There are no exit points between the start of the attraction and the end of the attraction. Staff help to make this experience possible and enjoyable by assuring the preparedness and safety of each individual participating in the attraction.
Decks/Platforms: The elevated tree decks, or platforms, are where each bridge of the Redwood Canopy Trail begins. Bridges are suspended between several platforms at different levels. All decks are fully railed and netted. The entrance and exit have fixed position stairs anchored to platforms, there 2 platforms at the double tree that are connected by a spiral staircase.
Bridges/Trails: The Redwood Canopy Trail consists of 8 custom fully netted bridges. The 8 bridges are cabled suspension bridges that allow subtle movement along with the trees and wind.
There are no exit points between the start of the attraction and the end of the attraction. Guests must be informed of this information and should be physically able to finish the experience from beginning to end. Guests who are unable to reach the end of the attraction due to fatigue or other non-emergency reasons must be extracted in the same form as an emergency situation. This will result in the evacuation and temporary closure of the attraction, and a considerably diminished guest experience for other participants.
RULES & REQUIREMENTS
Please respect our trees, they are alive, and allowing you to visit their canopy. You will be walking on bridges that sway and move. You will be required to walk up and down stairs, and uneven surfaces. If you are unable to perform these tasks, then PLEASE do not walk on the bridges.
- Use at your own risk. Minimum height 36 inches.
- Hold onto railings at all times
- All items must be secure
- NO passing on bridges
- NO carrying of children is permitted
- NO food or beverages
- NO Strollers
- NO Animals of any kind
- NO Smoking
- NO climbing, sitting or leaning on railings
- NO running, jumping, bouncing or swaying on the bridges.
- NO throwing or tossing items over bridges
- ALL guests must be able to walk without assistance
- NO more than 10 people on bridges or platforms at a time
- Objects – Participants are encouraged to properly secure any loose personal items on them such as expensive jewelry, keys and cell phones. Loose objects may fall out of pockets, through netting, or off platforms and become lost, damaged, broken, or a safety risk for guests and/or staff underneath the attraction.
- Must be able to comprehend and follow all safety instructions.
- Must be able to physically walk/climb through the entirety of the Redwood Canopy Trail and maneuver through narrow netted bridges elevated at various heights.
- Individuals with health concerns and/or conditions, including but not limited to: shortness of breath; injuries, pain, or instability; heart conditions or disease; and seizure disorders or balance problems should not participate in this tour.
- This Trail is not ADA accessible.
- Participants may not be under the influence of alcohol or any other substance (including medications) that might impair judgement or physical capability.
- Appropriate footwear is required – shoes should be secure and suitable for walking. For example: high heels and wedges are not considered appropriate footwear. Sneakers, hiking shoes, boots and other similar flat and secured footwear would be considered ideal for this activity.
- The staff at Trees of Mystery reserve the right to disqualify any participant based on their judgment.
EVERYTHING INCLUDED WITH ADMISSION
Admission includes SkyTrail, Forest Experience Trail, Wilderness Trail, Trail of Tall Tails, Kingdom of Trees, Redwood Canopy Trail and The End of the Trail Museum.
HOW MUCH FOR ALL THE FUN?
We want you to have the best day ever. Come early and stay all day. Your admission gives you access to everything all day long. Ride SkyTrail more than once and spend the day on the trails.
General Admission (13-59): $20.00
Seniors (60 and over): $16.00
Kids 6-12: $11.00
Kids 5 and under: Free
HOW TO GET HERE
Location, Directions, Driving Map
Whether You Are Coming From North, South, or East, We Are Not Hard to Find.
We are 36 miles south of the Oregon border and 360 miles north of San Francisco on US Highway 101. From Grants Pass, Oregon and Interstate 5 it is 126 miles to Klamath, California via Highway 199. We are located right on the highway (101) and the statues of Paul and Babe make us impossible to miss.
Klamath, CA 95548
You can check out our photos below to see what our experience was like at the Trees of Mystery. After your visit there you can get a good meal just across the street at The Forest Cafe. We all had lunch at there and it was very good. There aren’t a lot of options in the area, but this one a pleasant surprise. I was happy because we didn’t have to make sandwiches for picnic lunches once again.
Some other activities we did while at the Redwoods were stopping to see the Elk behind the school in Orick, visits to numerous beaches, and The Coastal Drive to see the World War II Radar Station. You can see some of our adventures in the photos below. There is so much to see and do in the Redwoods. It is a great place to visit!
A Few Words of Caution
We camped at Emerald Forest Cabins and RV located in Trinidad, CA. It is conveniently located near the Redwoods State and National Parks. This location was safe, clean, and right among the redwoods. I highly recommend this location and making reservations months in advance, as it fills up completely during the summer months.
I do not recommend staying in Eureka. It did not appear to be a safe area. There were a considerable number of homeless people, who appeared to be on drugs. The town of Orick was quite the same experience as well. Run down motels and hotels that had windows completely broken out and covered with sheets. Debris and broken furniture littering the front lawns. And of course, more drug addicts looking for money. They even approached my husband asking for “just $35 if you have it”. They were looking for their next fix.
One man was selling firewood and was so far gone that his friends had to help him sit up from his bed inside his van where he was living because he was so wasted (it was the middle of the day too). We were trying to pay him for the firewood he was selling on the side of Hwy 101. It showed us that this part of California is becoming a land of the haves and have-nots. The have-nots appeared to be many that were drug addicts. The pock marked faces, rotted out teeth, gaunt bodies, and totally out-of-it behavior were telling signs of major drug abuse.
California is a beautiful area of our country, but it is a shame what is happening there. There are problems in every area, but the rampant homelessness and drug users out on main streets (like Hwy 101, one of the most beautiful routes in the country) showed us how bad it is getting in California. Which is a shame, because this area of California is home to some of the most beautiful National Parks in our country including the Redwoods.
If you are going to head to California to visit the Redwoods, be cautious and aware. Read reviews before booking where you will stay, because some areas did not appear to be safe. Are all homeless dangerous people? Of course not. However, there are some that use drugs and become desperate for a drug fix and if they have no money, they can resort to stealing and harming others to get what they want. I just want everyone to be safe during their visit to the redwoods.