This 4 day itinerary to Redwoods National Park will provide you with all you need to know about the Redwoods National and State Parks, while also covering hiking trails in Redwoods National Parks as well as places to eat in the area and where to stay near Redwoods National and State Parks. 

Out of all of the national parks we’ve been to in California, Redwoods National Park has always felt the most magical to me — the gigantic coastal redwoods, the misty fog rolling in and out, the lush ferns and redwood sorrel carpet — the redwood understory is an amazing gift from Mother Nature to see.  

As much as I love Yosemite National Park, Redwoods National & State Parks has got my heart! 

Fun Fact: California’s Redwoods National & State Parks is a UNESCO world heritage site, preserving the largest contiguous ancient coastal redwood forest in the world in their original forest and streamside settings. (UNESCO World Heritage Convention)

Ferns in the foreground with a burnt out redwood trunk in the forest in the background.
Lush ferns everywhere all of over the parks.

Table of Contents

Everything you need to know about visiting the Redwoods National and State Parks

What are Redwoods National and State Parks? 

We figured we’d answer this question first. In doing tons of research for this trip we found the distinctions and boundaries of the parks(s) to be very confusing.

Usually most national parks in the United States and California only include a single park, aside from Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, but Redwoods National & State Parks is the other anomaly. It is also made more confusing because all the parks are some sort of redwood park.  

Redwoods National and State Parks is a complex of multiple redwoods national and state parks making up the whole Redwoods National & State Park designation including Redwoods National Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We visited all of them so we can tell you all about it! 

Fun Fact: Frederick Law Olmstead, the famous landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York City and Prospect Park in Brooklyn, was hired to survey the area for conservation and he suggested recommended four redwood areas for parks that later became Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Each of the state parks making up the whole of Redwoods National and State Parks are unique in their own way and are magnificent to behold. There’s nothing quite like beauty and grandeur of these majestically tall trees. 

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” – John Steinbeck 

Love John Steinbeck? Be sure to visit the National Steinbeck Center when visiting Salinas in our Monterey 3 day itinerary.

Though all of the parks are coastal redwood parks, they are each known for its unique beauty. Redwoods National Park is famous for being home to the tallest trees in the world. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is best known for its lush Fern Canyon. Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park has gorgeous trails along the coast with old growth redwoods. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is famous for its Howland Hill Road scenic drive and many old growth redwood trails

When to visit Redwoods National and State Parks? 

Typically spring and fall or autumn are the best times to visit Redwoods National Park, especially in April, May, September, and October. If you visit in the late spring between mid-May and June, you’ll also likely come across beautiful pink Rhodendron flowers in bloom! 

In the winter months, there tends to be a lot of rain storms that could make the already damp coastal redwood forest trails muddy and wet. During the summer there tends to be more fog on the coast making the beauty of the forests slightly more difficult to see the immense height of the trees; however the fog definitely lends itself to an increased vibe of mystery in the forest.  

Trail leading to the foreground with redwood trees and ferns. A portion of the trail is also a wooden bridge crossing.
All of the trails within Redwoods National & State Parks are beautiful.

How much does it cost to visit Redwoods National and State Parks? 

Visiting Redwoods National and State Parks is usually FREE! (This is my favorite park due to its gorgeous natural beauty and I like free! I love and appreciate that this amazing park is free for all to see.)

However during certain times of the year or year-round, permits may be required for certain areas of the park

Tall Trees Grove in Redwoods National Park (permit required year-round)

Reservations for Tall Trees Grove permit are required year-round and only available online. There are no fees involved however you will need to decide whether you would like an all day permit or a half day permit. The all day permits are available up to 180 days in advance and the half day permits are available the day before. 


Gold Bluffs Beach Day-Use Area & Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (permit required seasonally)

Between May 15 and September 15, a permit is required to visit the Gold Bluffs Beach Day-Use area and the Fern Canyon Trailhead. The day use permit is $12 per vehicle and can only be paid by cash or check. If you have an America the Beautiful pass (National Parks pass), California State Park Annual Pass or Poppy Pass, it is free. See permit reservations site for more information. 


How to get to and around Redwoods National and State Parks from San Francisco

From San Francisco, getting to the Redwoods National and State Parks takes about 5 hours and 45 minutes along US-101 N and is about 320 miles to Orick, where Redwoods National Park and the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitors Center is located. 

Coming from the south, the San Francisco direction, the first park you’ll see is Redwoods National Park, then Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and finally Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is northernmost. 

Between the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitors Center in Orick and the Hiouchi Visitors Center in Crescent City, closest to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the drive is approximately 1 hour with a distance of about 53 miles long via US-101 N. 

Important Note: Be sure to check road conditions as weather and storms could close some roads in the area. 

Due to the long drive, I would recommend taking a longer trip and visiting other areas such as Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park to break up the drive and better enjoy the California coast. 

Driving is the best way to get around the parks. We made it a road trip and it was an amazing experience to take the scenic drives. There is so much area to cover between the 4 parks that it is impossible to get between the parks without a car. 

Tops of the redwood trees in the forest when viewed from the ground.
Don’t forget to look up when you’re in the redwood forests! It’s difficult to imagine how tall these gigantic coastal redwoods actually are.

Where to stay near Redwoods National and State Parks

To easily visit all of the parks, we split our time between Arcata and Crescent City in Northern California. Both Arcata and Crescent City are located approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes (~80 miles) away from each other on US-101. 

Arcata is slightly closer to Redwoods National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park while Crescent City is located nearer to Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. 

Arcata, Eureka, and McKinleyville are the most populated in the area with many affordable lodging options. However along with Crescent City, they provide a wonderful selection of places to stay to visit all of the Redwoods National and State Parks. 

Places to Stay in Arcata near Redwoods National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park 

For a budget conscious place to stay with lots of amenities, look no further than Ramada by Wyndham Arcata, the hotel is closer to the Redwoods National and State Parks and a bit removed from the downtown. But with its distance, you get access to a BBQ & picnic area, children’s playground, tennis courts, and even a seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub. The rooms come with options for a king or queen bed, free breakfast, hairdryer, air conditioning, and free wifi. It is a perfect stay for couples or families planning to visit the redwoods. 

Book your stay at Ramada by Wyndham Arcata! 

Comfort Inn Arcata is perfect for visiting the redwoods due to its location and proximity to the parks. The hotel has amenities including an indoor pool and gym as well as a daily continental breakfast included with your stay. The rooms are simple but outfitted with one or two beds, flatscreen TV, free wifi, microwave, refrigerator, and some rooms even have a bathtub! 

Stay at Comfort Inn Arcata on your next trip! 

Hotel Arcata has got some Old World charm in the midst of the action in downtown Arcata. This stay is a wonderful option if you’re itching to be close to all of the restaurants in town and love staying at historical spots. In fact, the building is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places! The rooms include one or two beds, cable TV, coffee machine, and bathroom with a claw-foot tub. The hotel has a ton of amenities including a restaurant, bar, and gym. They also offer room service in case you get the munchies at night. For families, they even have the option of adjoining rooms so that you and your kids can get some time away from each other but be close enough for supervision. 

Book a charming stay at Hotel Arcata now! 

Places to Stay in Crescent City near Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park 

Curly Redwood Lodge is a nice local mom-and-pop owned spot with an amazing location right off of the Crescent City harbor. This cute motel is decked out in mid century modern design with warm touches of redwood paneling throughout. It’s perfect for couples who love to take a stroll along the waterfront and is overall a no-frills place to stay. The rooms are outfitted with queen beds, desk, and flatscreen TV. It’s also perfect for families as they have a larger family room option with two queen beds. 

Book a stay at Curly Redwood Lodge today!

Located right by Battery Point is Oceanfront Lodge and it is properly named as it is located right by the ocean. Here you’ll get amazingly vast views of the Pacific Ocean right from your room with many rooms having ocean view options. The property has amenities such as a gym, pool, and hot tub. The hot tub would be perfect for resting and recovering your body after long hikes in the Redwoods National and State Park! The rooms are very well equipped with a bed, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and flat screen TV. They also have a large family suite option with both a balcony and ocean view. 

Stay at Oceanfront Lodge on your trip! 

Closer to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is Westward Inn, located right off of US-101, it has a very convenient location to take you to and from all of the Redwoods National and State Parks. This simple lodging provides you with a bed, coffee maker, refrigerator, and microwave as well as a flatscreen TV and free wifi. 

Book a stay at Westward Inn for your trip! 

Fallen redwood tree in the redwood forest in Redwoods National Park.

How to visit Redwoods National & State Parks in 4 days

Home to the tallest trees in the world, Redwoods National Park is amazing to visit in 4 days. If you spend 4 days visiting Redwoods National & State Park, you’ll be able to see all of the highlights that the parks have to offer, including seeing insanely tall trees and hiking the best trails. This 4 day itinerary will allow you to have a long weekend trip with one day spent in each park though you will be in for some very long days due to the driving involved. 

Day 1: Spend the day at Redwoods National Park 

We recommend spending the night in Arcata and waking up ready to hit the trails of Redwoods National Park on your first day. Enjoy breakfast served at your hotel to fuel up and carb load to get started with your day. 

If you need a trail map for Redwoods National and State Parks, we would recommend stopping by Thomas H. Kuchel Visitors Center in Orick on your way over to our first recommended hike. 

A man walking through a tree tunnel on the Tall Trees Trail in Redwoods National Park.
There are many cool tree tunnels cut through fallen tree trunks along the trails in the Redwoods National & State Parks. This one was on the Tall Trees Grove Trail.

Tall Trees Grove Trail, Redwoods National Park 

The Tall Trees Grove Trail is one of the most majestic trails in Redwoods National Park, it is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the world and it’s amazing to behold in the flesh. 

From the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitors Center, the Tall Trees Grove trailhead is approximately 60 minutes away. To get to the trailhead, take US-101 North to Bald Hills Road for 7 miles until you reach Tall Trees Access Road. Here, you will find a locked gate with permit only access. 

To access this hike, you will need to request a free half day permit online the day before. Without the permit, you will not be able to access the trail as you need to have a code to enter and drive down the Tall Trees Access Road to the Tall Trees Grove trailhead. Without the code, you will have driven all that way for naught! 

From the gate, you’ll need to drive another 6 miles down an old, narrow, gravel logging road to the Tall Trees Grove trailhead. Depending on the weather and conditions this road can be dusty or muddy. 

Important Note: This hike, though short, is moderately strenuous and as such you should physically prepare yourself to complete the whole hike as there are no old growth redwoods along the access road leading to the grove. 

The full Tall Trees Grove trail is approximately 4.5 miles round trip and reaches a total elevation of 1,600 feet. This includes the loop around the grove itself, so it can be challenging hike. While it may seem “easy” at the beginning to hike down into the valley to the redwoods, don’t forget you still need to climb back up! 

PRO TIP: We would recommend wearing hiking boots as the redwood tree roots span much of the trail and it can be easy to twist an ankle while hiking.

The double trunk of the Libbey Tree in Redwoods National Park surrounded by other redwood trees..
The double trunk of the Libbey Tree in Redwoods National Park.

Fun Fact: The Libbey Tree, located within Tall Trees Grove, was once the tallest tree in the world. It still remains the tallest living tree that you can still visit. Still in the midst of the giant redwoods in the grove, it looks surprisingly small; to spot it, you’ll need to find the tiny ‘Libbey Tree” sign and spot the narrow double trunk.

If you start early around 8:00 AM when the trailhead opens, you will have much of the trail to yourself, like we did, and it makes the trail experience even more mysterious as you will be hiking in the middle of the morning fog. 

The Tall Trees Grove is particularly magical because it is one of the most remote hikes in the area due to its difficulty to access as well as physical strenuousness of the hike itself. While it is difficult to get to, I believe that adds a certain type of mystery and mystic to the trail. Not only is the trail quiet and far from the traffic that plagues many California trails, but the fresh air in the redwood grove is like no other. 

Fun Fact: Redwoods National Park is home to some of the tallest trees in the world including Hyperion which was discovered in 2006. (

Redwood trees, ferns, and redwood sorrel line the Tall Trees Grove Trail in Redwood National Park.
There is so much lush greenery in Redwoods National Park!

The trail takes you through a gorgeous redwood forest, through fallen redwoods (some of which are tunneled through!), and down to the forest floor by the Redwood Creek. During the summers when the Redwood Creek is lower, you can sometimes wade through the creek and to trails and campgrounds on the other side. 

If you choose to crossover to Redwood Creek, be sure to stay out of the closure area which includes Tom McDonald Creek. Hefty fines could occur as this area is protecting some of the tallest trees in the world and many trespassers have trampled the native plants in the area in an effort to see Hyperion. 

Fallen tree trunk hanging over the Tall Trees Grove Trail pathway in Redwoods National Park.
Yet another fallen tree across the path, sometimes you can find moss growing on the trunk and mushrooms growing on the underside!
PRO TIP: Bring some snacks to the park or eat a larger breakfast as there are not any food services or restaurants in Redwoods National and State Parks. This allows the park to feel more remote and reduces human impact.


Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, Redwoods National Park

This hike is another hike to an old growth redwood forest that includes a walk through a second growth redwood forest and second growth Douglas fir trees. It’s a great way to experience the difference between old growth and second growth redwoods that are planted after logging destruction. 

The trailhead for Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail is towards the beginning of Bald Hills Road, only 3 miles in and is on the way to and from the Tall Trees Grove Trail, making it the perfect accompanying trail or a nice backup trail if you’re unable to get a Tall Tree Groves permit. 

Fun Fact: In 1969, President Richard Nixon dedicated the grove to First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, for her conservation and environmental work. She also has a lake named after her in Austin, known as Lady Bird Lake. 

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail is a quick 1.5 mile loop with only 100 feet in elevation making it just too sloped to be accessible but easy enough for visitors of all ages. It’s also the perfect walk after the Tall Trees Grove if you’re a bit tired from the former hike, but still want to see more redwoods. 

Metal bridge on the Tall Trees Grove Trail in Redwoods National Park surrounded by trees with lichen and ferns.

Trillium Falls Trail, Redwoods National Park

For those of us who may still have a good amount of energy after the Tall Trees Grove Trail, try Trillium Falls Trail

Because this trail is located off of US-101 in Berry Glenn, it isn’t as quiet and peaceful as some of the other trails in Redwoods National and State Parks; however its old growth redwood forest is still as beautiful as ever. 

PRO TIP: Since Redwoods National and State Park is rather remote, there is wildlife everywhere including elk, bears, voles, and more. For safety, you may want to bring a bell to ward off some of the more dangerous animals. We saw prior reports of a mama bear and 2 bear cubs at the Trillium Falls trailhead.

Trillium Falls waterfall flowing over a rocky bed.
Trillium Falls was on the lighter side when we visited in late October of 2020.

The redwoods along this trail are what remains of the old growth redwoods from when a sawmill was located in the area. 

This trail can be done as a quick in and out route to Trillium Falls or as a full 2.8 mile loop. Trillium Falls is located only 0.5 miles in, making it only 1 mile total for an in and out trail. 

We opted to do the full loop with 440 feet elevation to see more of the old growth redwood forest (we can’t get enough!) and save Trillium Falls for last, completing the loop in a clockwise manner. 

Sometimes Trillium Falls has more of an active flow due to fresh rainwater, however when we visited the flows were not as gushing. 


Larrupin Cafe, Trinidad

For dinner, reward yourself with delicious eats at Larrupin Cafe. We loved their barbecue entrees which gave us the perfect amount of protein, vegetables, and carb to recover from your hiking workout today! 


We ordered the 24 hour smoked beef brisket and the mesquite barbecued salmon. Each entree comes with Larrupin appetizer board, house salad, and choice side of coconut-macadamia basmati rice, twice-baked potato, honey-maple sweet potato or seasonal vegetable. 

Stay in Arcata for the night so that it’s convenient for Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park the next day. 


Day 2: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park 

Los Bagels, Arcata 

Start your day in Arcata with Los Bagels Bakery Bagel & Cafe. This spot is frequented by a lot of California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt students, it’s an affordable yet tasty breakfast option. 

While they have the typical round bagel, they are also famous for their “slug bagel” and “slug slime” which is their unique spin on a bagel.

What is “slug” according to Los Bagels?

The “slug slime” is Los Bagels’s homemade take on the everything bagel seasoning. Their “slug bagel” is so named due to it’s long hot dog bun shape and “slug slime” everything seasoning resembling the infamous banana slug that lives in the redwood forests. 


Aside from their “slug” offerings, they are also known for their Larrupin mustard dill sauce, which tastes wonderful on a lox salmon bagel. 

We tried the “slug” 

We ordered their signature items including their “Build Your Own Bagel” with lox, cream cheese, cucumber, and slug slime on a slug bagel and their “Chorizo & Guacamole” bagel – scrambled egg, & Los Bagels’ chorizo on a normal everything bagel. 


Since we had a feeling we might not have time to grab lunch later in between hikes in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, we also ordered extra Los Bagels to go. For lunch, we grabbed a “Build Your Own Bagel” with lox, cream cheese, and Larrupin on a slug bagel and their “Cheese Scram” – scrambled egg and cheese with onion and tomato on a normal everything bagel. 

View of the Fern Canyon Loop Trail of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park looking down through the canyon at the fallen trees.
You’ll see ferns all over the sides of the canyon as well as downed trees throughout the middle of the canyon.

Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park 

Fern Canyon is located along the Pacific coast within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and can be reached by taking US-101 N and driving on Davidson Road and the road along Gold Bluffs Beach for 7.5 miles until you reach the end. Davidson Road is a gravel, dirt road that is very windy, so it can take quite a bit of time to drive down. It took us approximately 30 minutes to get from US-101 N to Fern Canyon.  

PRO TIP: Ensure that your car has enough clearance to traverse Squashan Creek, at times the creek can be gushing and difficult to drive through with a shorter car. During the summer months the creek will likely be lower than in the winter. Check latest road conditions for more up to date information.

Fun Fact: Fern Canyon is home to 7 different types of ferns: maidenhair fern, deer fern, sword fern, five finger fern, lady fern, horsetail fern, and leather fern.

Closer view at a fern filled wall within Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Closer view at a five finger fern filled wall within Fern Canyon.

Made famous by Instagram, Fern Canyon has become one of the most popular hikes in all of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park due to its unique location within a lush, fern-covered canyon. The hike is a fairly easy 1 mile loop with an elevation gain of about 150 feet and as you walk into the canyon you’ll see it go from a wide path to a more narrow one with log jams where trees have fallen into the canyon due to rain and storms. 

PRO TIP: Bring hiking boots or shoes you don’t mind getting wet with traction. No matter the season, your shoes will likely get wet since you’ll be at a lower elevation within the canyon. If you want to be extra prepared, definitely bring a spare pair of socks. We did not know to do that in advance and we had to sit in wet socks all day.

Important Note: Elk are very common within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Remember to keep your distance and do not approach them. Generally throughout the year you should keep at least a school bus length between you and the elk. During late May to early June is elk calving season — female elk can be very protective of their babies, do not get too close because they will kick and stomp you. During August through October, the male elk are rutting. This means that they are irritable and will use their antlers to protect the females in their group; but, they can also kick, stomp, and charge at anyone who gets too close to them. 

This hike is super beautiful and definitely worth doing at least once. For a longer variation of the hike you can also try to tack it onto the James Irvine trail and hike from James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon Loop for a 12 mile loop that takes the majority of the day. 

We, on the other hand, wanted to keep our Fern Canyon detour short and sweet so that we could explore other cool areas of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. 

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park 

The Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives in California and takes you through the best of Prairie Creek’s old growth redwoods. The drive is about 9.2 miles long, out of that the 7 miles in the middle are full of beautiful old growth redwoods. Expect the drive to take 20-30 minutes one way. 

PRO TIP: Check the Prairie Creek Visitors Center or the road conditions online for the latest updates to the conditions of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway as it is often closed due to weather related issues.

Note that the scenic drive is also closed to cars on the first Saturday of each month between September and May for “hike and bike day.” It typically begins to close at 5:00 PM on Friday and stays closed until Sunday morning. 

There are many trailheads that start from Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive and Cathedral Trees Trail happens to be one of them. 

Redwood forest and ferns with the Cathedral Trees & Karl Knapp Trail path running in between.

Cathedral Trees Trail to Karl Knapp (formerly known as Prairie Creek) Trail via Big Tree Wayside, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Cathedral Trees Trail to Karl Knapp (formerly known as Prairie Creek) Trail is approximately 2.9 miles and has an elevation gain of about 213 feet. The loop trail is a perfect way of seeing many old growth redwoods including THE “Big Tree” at Big Tree Wayside. The hike is considered to be moderate so definitely expect to spend a bit of time traversing the redwood forest. 

The "Big Tree" at Big Tree Wayside in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park with two people on the side for scale.
The “Big Tree” is pretty big isn’t it?

Fun Fact: The Big Tree has a circumference of 74.5 feet, height of 286 feet, and a diameter of 23.7 feet. 

Crescent City script text sign in Crescent City.
Nothing says you’re in Crescent City like a sign that tells you so!

Downtown Crescent City

We recommend spending the night in Crescent City so that you’re closer to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for Day 3 and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park for Day 4. 

If you’re staying in town, you can easily explore the downtown area along the coast. Check out Beachfront Park and Battery Point Lighthouse for a unique experience. 

Battery Point Lighthouse building from the side in Crescent City.
The historic Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City.

Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City

Battery Point Lighthouse is a super cool and unique place to visit because it is often times off limits due to limited hours of opening but it is also at the mercy of the tides. The lighthouse can only be visited during low tide. 

Battery Point during high tide with water covering the path.
Battery Point is inaccessible when the tide is high.

Fun Fact: During certain times of the day, when the tide is high, Battery Point Lighthouse is inaccessible to the public. 

This lighthouse has been in operation for over 160 years with its oil lamps first lighting on December 10, 1856. The lighthouse keepers still reside there as it remains an active lighthouse providing aid to navigating ships in the area. 

Battery Point during low tide when the pathway to the island is accessible with a man for scale.
Battery Point at low tide when the island is accessible and safe to access by foot.

The Battery Point Lighthouse and island crossing is only 200 feet from the mainland and can be walked to during low tide. 

Important Note: Be wary of sneaker waves on the lighthouse and island crossing as well as near the rocks or shore of the island.

The lighthouse is typically open between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM with tours available dependent upon the tide. 


Kin Khao Thai Eatery, Crescent City

For dinner, get Thai food at Kin Khao Thai Eatery. This was one of the best Thai restaurants we’ve ever had and we were surprised it was located in Crescent City of all places. 


We tried so many delicious things, such as their papaya salad (we were super excited they had the pickled crab version!), pad see ew, and pad thai. 

Stay in Crescent City for the night so that you’re ready for more hiking in the morning. 

Hiking trail running through a carpet of lush ferns with redwood tree trunks in the background.
The Boy Scout Trail is filled with lush ferns carpeting many parts of the trail.

Day 3: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park 

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park may have been our favorite out of all of the Redwoods National and State Parks so we’re excited to share this one with you. This park just has such beautiful scenery and old growth redwoods that we found it to be the most impressive, but personally I think it helps since it’s the furthest away as well. 

Dutch Brothers Coffee, Crescent City

We decided to go easy and get breakfast at Dutch Brothers Coffee via the drive thru. Save our legs for the hike later! Their lattes were typical chain, nothing to write home about; however, we enjoyed the drive thru experience, they also had a girl take our order outside in the rain which helped with the line, but I definitely felt a bit bad for her needing to stand out there in the elements. 

Fallen tree on top of ferns in the foreground and a hiking trail with redwood tree trunks and more ferns in the background.
The Boy Scout Trail is too beautiful, carpets of ferns abound!

Boy Scout Trail, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

The Boy Scout Trail at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park was by far my favorite hike of the trip (yes, it even surpassed Fern Canyon, it was that beautiful). That said, this hike is not for the faint of heart, this is definitely a challenging and strenuous hike and can take the better half of the day. 

To get to the trail from Crescent City, take US-101 S to Elk Valley Road, then Howland Hill Road for 3.7 miles to the Boy Scout Trailhead. This drive takes approximately 20 minutes and is roughly 6 miles. 

The Boy Scout trail is composed of many switchbacks through the old growth redwoods over the course of approximately 5.5 miles in and out with an elevation of 750 feet. 

Signs pointing to the Boy Scout Tree along the trail.
Don’t miss the signs pointing to the Boy Scout Tree along the trail, the tree can be a bit difficult to find.

From the trailhead, the trail takes you through old growth redwood forest and lush ferns to the Boy Scout Tree, and Fern Falls at the end of the trail before you turn back. 

Looking up at the trunk of the Boy Scout Tree.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Boy Scout Tree shown here, you can also look for the small rectangular sign on the trunk (see lower left on image).

Fun Fact: The Boy Scout Tree is so called due to its two-tree double trunk that resembles the Boy Scout salute. 

My favorite thing about the Boy Scout Trail is that there are so many giant old growth redwoods and it’s an insanely beautiful trail that you really have to see in person to believe. 

Howland Hill Road Scenic Drive, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Howland Hill Road Scenic Drive is a small, windy road that is a beautiful scenic drive through the old growth redwoods. The drive is also home to a few trailheads, such as the Boy Scout Trail, Grove of Titans Trail, and Stout Grove Trail. 

PRO TIP: Be sure to check the latest road conditions as Howland Hill Road is sometimes closed due to weather.

The drive is approximately 10 miles long one way and takes about 45 minutes from beginning to end. 

Ferns and redwoods lining the path of the Stout Grove Loop Trail pathway.
Stout Grove Loop Trail pathway

Stout Memorial Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

If you can still walk after the Boy Scout Trail, definitely hike Stout Memorial Grove. The trail is one of the most popular in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park due to its ease of access and short length. 

Stout Grove Trail is a short 0.5 mile hike with 20 foot elevation in the middle of a 44 acre grove of old growth redwoods. Stout Grove is full of beautiful and majestic redwoods and lies at the intersection of Mill Creek and Smith River. 

Grove of Titans Trail, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

If your legs still have some energy in them, you can hike the Grove of Titans Trail at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. This trail takes you through to some of the largest redwoods that you can hike through in the park. The trail is approximately 1.7 miles long with an elevation of 200 feet. 

Fun Fact: This trail opened in 2022 to provide visitors with a method of seeing ancient redwoods more closely and sustainably with 1,500 feet of elevated boardwalk built with the purpose of protecting the redwoods. (


Art’s BBQ, Crescent City

Art’s BBQ is a small unassuming local spot full of locals. It was absolutely delicious and you should eat there for dinner. Their entrees are meaty barbecue platters full of fixings and they’re served until they’re sold out. 


Their BBQ platters include your choice of meat served over rice with a choice of 2 sides. We opted for their pork spareribs over rice with coleslaw and hummus. We also tried their chicken over rice with coleslaw and hummus. 

Their chicken wrap was also famous as well so we got that to go for breakfast the next day. 

Stay in Crescent City again tonight since it’s closer to Del Norte Coast Redwoods Stat Park. 

A man looking towards the sun between redwood trees on the Damnation Creek Trail in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
The sun shining through the fog in between the trees on the Damnation Creek Trail was so magical.

Day 4: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

On day 4, we’ll explore Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. Start the day with hotel breakfast or a quick bite from Dutch Brothers. You’ll need the fuel for the hike! 

Ferns and redwoods along the Damnation Creek Trail.
It was so cool to see the coast redwoods in their natural environment by the coast.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

This is THE hike to due at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park! While Damnation Creek Trail is a difficult and strenuous trail, it offers a beautiful walk through the redwoods and an opportunity to get to the coast. 

The full trail is an in and out trail and is approximately 4 miles with an elevation of 1,170 feet in total. The Damnation Creek Trail is often wet and windy due to its location on the coast.

PRO TIP: Be sure to wear hiking boots with good traction due to the exposed tree roots and slippery trail.

Damaged and blocked off bridge at Lower Damnation Creek Trail.
The damaged and blocked off bridge leading to the beach at Lower Damnation Creek Trail back in late October of 2020.

The bridge was still broken when we visited and the weather was foggy and overcast. It is definitely worth taking on the challenge and hiking this trail on a nice day for clear views of the sea stacks and Pacific Ocean. 

Cliffs and rocks to the left of the beach and sea stacks to the right in the ocean.
Even though it was foggy it was pretty, we can only imagine how beautiful the beach would’ve been on a clear day.
PRO TIP: The bridge to the beach has been iffy and broken for years. It seems like there are construction crews on and off currently trying to repair the beach access. Some days you may have to take a detour to the Coastal Trail instead and cut your route on the Damnation Creek Trail short due to lower trail closures, check the website for latest trail conditions.

Damnation Creek Trailhead sign at the start of the hike with the trailhead itself in the background.
That 1,000 feet drop is no joke, this hike was strenuous and steep!

The Damnation Creek Trail was one of the hardest hikes we did during this trip due to elevation gain and trail conditions. 

View from above of the Pacific Ocean and Crescent Beach
The fog still hadn’t fully burnt off, but Crescent Beach was still beautiful.

Crescent Beach Overlook, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

On the way back in town for some grub, stop by Crescent City Overlook for some amazing views of Crescent City. 


Schmidt’s House of Jambalaya, Crescent City 

For a late lunch or early dinner post-hike, try Schmidt’s House of Jambalaya for amazingly good Cajun food. Located in Crescent City right by the harbor, they offer casual no-frills dining with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. 


We dined outside since the fog burned off and it became a nice day. Since they had jambalaya in their name, we had to try it! We got their Crawdad Fritters, blackened snapper po’boy, and jambalaya. Their food delivered, it was full of flavor and absolutely delicious. 

Two groups of sea lions sleeping on platforms in Crescent City harbor.
There were so many sea lions in Crescent City harbor. It reminded us of San Francisco’s Pier 39 sea lions!

Crescent City Harbor, Crescent City

Take a walk along Crescent City Harbor over to Whaler Island and see the sea lions. 

SeaQuake Brewing, Crescent City

Stop by SeaQuake Brewing for some craft beer — Jimmy loved their Chocolate Porter. If you like thicker richer flavor, definitely give that a try. SeaQuake Brewing offers a variety of satiating food options including their namesake Seaquake wings, birria nachos, clam chowder, and various pizza options. 

This was our 4 day hiking itinerary for Redwoods National and State Parks. This guide has hiking trail recommendations for each park and good eats along the way.

List of the Sights in Redwoods National Parks Itinerary 

Day 1: Redwoods National Park 

Day 2: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Day 3: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park 

Day 4: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park 

Map of the Sights in Redwoods National Parks Itinerary 

This map includes a list of all of the Sights to See, Visitors Centers & Parking, Restaurants as well as the routes by day (i.e. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4) and Closed Area within specified layers.

By default, only the Sights to See, Visitors Centers & Parking and Restaurants are shown but you can select to view the daily routes and Closed Area. Use the slide out panel to select layers to toggle them on and off using the checkboxes.

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