Regardless of the length of your hike, dress warmly and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The website of Redwood Hikes Press, www.redwoodhikes.com, is a great resource, and they also sell printed maps. Redwood Adventures, north of Orick (tel. 866/733-9637; www.redwoodadventures.com), offers guided hikes; a half-day runs $85 per person.
Big Tree Trail -- For the nonhikers in your group (including those in wheelchairs), this is a short paved trail leading to an impressively large tree. You can return the way you came or make a 2- or 3-mile loop if you continue on the Foothill, Cathedral Tree, and Prairie Creek trails. .25 mile RT. Easy. Access: Big Tree turnoff along Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy.
Boy Scout Tree Trail -- After taking this trail through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, you might understand why an activist such as Woody Harrelson would chain himself to the Golden Gate Bridge to protest logging old-growth forests. This is nature primeval, a lush, cool, damp forest brimming with giant ferns and redwoods. Just being here is truly an emotional experience. 5.6 miles RT. Easy. Access: Off Howland Hill Rd.; ask for directions and map at Jedediah Smith Information Center.
Enderts Beach Trail -- This short trail leads down to Enderts Beach. In the summer, free 2 1/2-hour ranger-guided tide pool and seashore walks are offered when the tides are right. You start at the beach parking lot, descend to the beach, and explore rocky tide pools at its southern end. 1.2 miles RT. Easy. Access: End of Enderts Rd. at south end of Crescent City (about 3 miles south on U.S. 101 from downtown).
Fern Canyon Trail -- This short, heavily traveled trail leads to an unbelievably lush grotto of lady, deer, chain, sword, five-finger, and maidenhair ferns clinging to 50-foot-high vertical walls divided by a babbling brook. It's only about a 1.5-mile walk from Gold Bluffs Beach, but be prepared to scramble across the creek several times on small footbridges. This short loop connects with a number of trails, allowing the adventurous hiker to get in a 10-mile hike if he or she desires. 1.5 miles RT. Easy. Access: From U.S. 101, take Davison Rd. exit, which follows Gold Bluffs Beach to Fern Canyon parking lot. Day-use fee $6. No trailers or motor homes over 24 ft. long.
Friendship Ridge, Coastal Loop Trail -- This is possibly the most varied and beautiful hike in Redwood National Park. Beginning at the Fern Canyon Trailhead, you'll follow the Coastal Loop Trail north, then veer right and follow the Friendship Ridge Trail. For the next 3 miles, you'll walk through a fern and redwood forest, then join the West Ridge Trail through old-growth forest to Ossagon Creek Camp and back south along the Coastal Loop Trail. 8 miles RT. Moderate. Access: Fern Canyon Trailhead on Davison Rd.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop -- Here's a self-guided tour that loops around a lush grove of mature redwoods. It's the site at which Lady Bird Johnson dedicated the national park in 1968. The following year, it was named for her. 1 mile RT. Easy. Access: Lady Bird Johnson Grove. Take Bald Hills Rd. exit off U.S. 101, 1/2 mile north of Orick.
Tall Trees Trail -- To see the some of the world's tallest trees -- about 360 feet tall and more than 600 years old -- you'll have to go to the Kuchel Visitor Center near Orick to obtain a free map and vehicle permit to drive to the Tall Trees Grove Trailhead. Once thought to be the world's tallest, these trees lost their title when 378-foot Hyperion was discovered elsewhere in the park in 2006. Hyperion's location is kept secret to protect the surrounding soil. Only 50 permits are issued per day, on a first-come, first-served basis. After driving to the trail head -- a slow, 15-mile one-way drive on a rough gravel road (trailers and motor homes not permitted) -- you have to walk a steep trail down into the grove, but it's a small price to pay to see some of the tallest trees in the world. Once you figure in the drive and hike to get to the tree, the whole expedition takes at least 4 hours. 3.5 miles RT. Moderate. Access: End of Tall Trees Access Rd., off Bald Hills Rd. Permit required.
Exploring the Backcountry
The long, beautiful Coastal Trail, which runs the entire 37-mile length of the parks' coastal section and as near the ocean as possible, can be hiked by the day in small segments. It also makes a great 3- or 4-day trip using backcountry camps on the route. One of the nicest runs is from Crescent Beach south into the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. A free permit is required if you stay overnight at Ossagon Creek or along Redwood Creek.
Redwood Creek Trail -- This hike is a beauty, passing through Tall Trees Grove (where some of the tallest trees in the world grow on the banks of Redwood Creek), periodic meadows, new-growth forests, and awesome vantage points overlooking the grove. You'll camp along the sandbars of Redwood Creek. The bridges on Redwood Creek are installed from May 15 to September 15 only, and from the end of October to the beginning of April, heavy rains make creek crossings dangerous. 15 miles RT. Moderate to strenuous. Access: End of Redwood Creek access road, off Bald Hills Rd.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.