Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Trip Start May 04, 2010
Trip End May 21, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hiouchi House on the Smith River

Flag of United States  , California
Monday, May 17, 2010


Today we are going to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, the second 5 star redwoods park rated by   The park overview: "In addition to a huge swath of the lushest redwoods forest anywhere, this remarkable park has a scenic undeveloped beach and a herd of wild elk, plus the popular fern Canyon.  The park has an extensive network of trails, most notably the superb Miners’ Ridge and James Irvine loop."

-      Coastal Drive down to Prairie Creek.  South of Klamath, we were looking for the signs for the Drury Scenic Parkway and saw a sign for the “Coastal Drive”.  It seemed like a good idea so we took it, noticing that on the map it intersected with the Drury further south.  What we didn’t know is that it is a narrow one lane gravel road with steep inclines and declines with precipitous drop-offs.  There are pull-offs to stop to allow another car to pass, but I can only imagine myself backing up to get to one of these if needed.   I drive with full attention, hugging the mountain, steering to avoid potholes in the road, looking ahead and hoping not to see another oncoming car.  Occasionally I catch myself holding my breath.  We come upon a few cars from the opposite direction and by some luck the turn offs are there so no one has to back up to allow the other enough room for the road.  I am so relieved when we join the Drury and are on a paved road!  The Drury is a beautiful road with frequent pull outs with access to trails that can be taken. 

      Irvine Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  This trail is quite a bit different from the Boy Scout Tree Trail.  Today we see large redwoods on a hillside with carpets of ferns at their base.   There are many crags with ferns and young trees sprouting out – reminds me of representations of small mountains with growth – like a bonsai of a larger landscape.  So lush in feeling.   The hike as described is actually 11.6 miles, but we decide that we’ll walk for a certain amount of time and then turn around.   At some point we talk about that it’s okay that we won’t experience the entire trail.  Harvey says something philosophical that hit home, something like this:  “everybody gets to the same place eventually – the important thing is how you get there, what you do along the way”.  We walked in a light drizzle with a rain cover over camera and our jackets on and just mozzy along, enjoying the pace, the views and our internal experiences.

Note:  Before the start of our walk, we check in at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.   We found out that the rhododendron would not be in bloom for another 2 weeks and that Fern Canyon was flooded so it really wouldn’t be worth the drive over to that section of the park.


      About one half hour driving south, I remember that I forgot to put the sandwiches for the day in my backpack – they’re still in the refrigerator.  Knowing that we are going to an area that has no restaurants, I proceed to silently beat up on myself and I wonder how we’re going to function without brain food & how could I have forgotten the food.  Harvey takes it lightly and says we will find a restaurant.  So, we drive past the visitor’s center and continue south past our intended hiking trail, and find ourselves in Orick – and see one Mexican restaurant that is open.  We go for it, even though we are not fans of Mexican food.  La Hacienda turns out to serve us a really good grilled chicken fajita with homemade guacamole and corn tortillas.  In the car, Harvey makes me laugh at how I had blown this entirely out of proportion. 

      We meet another couple on the Irvine Trail who we casually start talking with – they point out some of the plants and flowers along the path.  They also share some of their experiences traveling in India and Laos.  I really love to hear other people’s stories.

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