Top Trails: Northern California's Redwood Coast: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone

Top Trails: Northern California's Redwood Coast: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone

by Mike White

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At last there is a definitive guidebook for the magnificent and beautifully mysterious hikers' paradise known as the Redwood Coast of Northern California. In this new title in the Top Trails series, veteran outdoors author Mike White leads day-trippers and backpackers into some of the most awe-inspiring terrain on earth. Step-by-step in his trail-worn boots, the author created a menu of 57 diverse routes, from a gentle half-mile morning loop to a 29-mile backpacking adventure. Winding through Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte counties, he guides readers into this landscape of lush, old-growth redwoods; picture-postcard vistas to Pacific Ocean sea stacks; winding descents to undisturbed beaches and mesmerizing tide-pool life; pathways to inland canyons; and untamed wilderness shy on humans but boisterous with herds of Roosevelt elk. For readers ready to hit the trail, this is the can't-do-without guide. For armchair travelers, it's 57 journeys into wonderland.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899977522
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 03/17/2014
Series: Top Trails
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 360
File size: 39 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Mike White grew up in Portland, OR, where his adventures in the Cascade Range spawned his interest in the outdoors. He became a full-time writer, eventually writing or contributing to numerous outdoor guides. A featured speaker for outdoors and conservation organizations, he lives in Reno, NV.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Mendocino
Trail 6: Mendocino Headlands
Trail Use: Dayhiking, Running, Dogs Allowed (on leash)
Length & Time: 3.2 miles, 2-4 hours
Vertical Feet: +200'/-200'
Difficulty: Level 1
Trail Type: Loop
Start & Finish:N39° 18.309' W123° 47.826'
Features:Beach, Views, Wildlife, Historic Interest, Wildflowers
Facilities:Restrooms, Visitor Center, Resort Town

The quaint and picturesque hamlet of Mendocino, featured in the long running TV series Murder She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury, provides a fine backdrop to the rugged headlands bordering the town on three sides. On this 3-mile walk along the edge of the headlands and through town, hikers experience a fine contrast between the handiwork of nature and the architecture of man. Sheer bluffs offer beautiful vistas of the rocky coastline pounded by the crashing surf with excellent vantage points for observing the varied marine life, including migrating whales, dolphins, seals, and a host of sea birds. Walking through town includes the possibility of grabbing a bite to eat or quaffing a libation—a most civilized way to hike.

These headlands were threatened by a proposed development in the 1960s. Fortunately, the local citizenry banded together to successfully obtain historical status for the town and have the headlands declared as open space. The area is now protected as Mendocino Headlands State Park.

Best Time

The trail is open all year. Wildflowers bloom in spring and early summer, providing opportunities for picture-postcard views of the coastline and the quaint village of Mendocino.

Finding the Trail

At a traffic light on CA 1, turn onto Main Street, and head west into the town of Mendocino. In addition to four designated parking lots farther on, the Headlands Trail can be accessed from a couple of points in town, including the historic Ford House Visitor Center (which has restrooms) at the north end of town, or at the intersection of Main and Hesser Streets at the south end. Four blocks north of Main, Hesser intersects Little Lake Road, where a left-hand turn soon leads onto northbound Hesser Drive.

Three parking areas within the next quarter mile provide short and easy connections to the Headlands Trail. Farther along, after Hesser Drive turns east, is the last parking lot, 0.1 mile prior to the intersection of Lansing Street. In addition to picnic tables, this parking lot has restrooms, although they were closed in 2013 due to the budget crisis. The description below begins near the Ford House Visitor Center. Nearby Van Damme and Russian Gulch State Parks and Caspar Beach RV Park offer camping, and the Mendocino Coast has a plethora of lodging opportunities.

Trail Description

Securing a parking space on Main Street, which can be difficult on busy weekends when the weather is favorable, enables you to finish the loop in the historic part of town and then grab a post-trip brew or a bite to eat. From the Ford House, [1] a path leads shortly over to the top of the bluff above, from where you have a fine view of Big River entering the ocean. Turn right at the junction, [2] and follow the path along the bluff south of town through open prairie carpeted with seasonal wildflowers, eventually coming above Portuguese Beach.

Reach a junction with the lateral from the intersection of Main and Hesser Streets, and then follow the path curving south along the edge of a promontory to the site of a blowhole, encircled by a wood fence. Although you probably won’t see any plumes of ocean spray erupting out of the blowhole, the churning ocean waters inside are nonetheless dramatic in their own right. Farther on, a side trail on the left [3] leads down a set of stairs to Portuguese Beach, known locally as Point Beach.

From the Portuguese Beach junction, the main trail continues around the point and eventually heads north. Offshore rocks and islets create a dramatic visual counterpoint to the crashing Pacific waves, as well as providing nesting grounds for a variety of seabirds in spring, including Brandt’s cormorants, common murres, pigeon guillemots, and rhinoceros auklets. Other birds you might encounter in the area include egrets, loons, ospreys, and oystercatchers. The bluffs are also excellent vantage points for whale watchers in winter and early spring.

The largest islet, Goat Island, was once pastureland for a herd of goats. Other signs of civilization along the route include iron chains and redwood pilings, visual reminders of the logging heydays. The main path continues a wandering circuit northward along the serpentine course of the bluffs.

Eventually the shoreline and the trail curve east, arriving at the final parking area [4] near a grove of cypress trees. Picnic tables and restrooms invite visitors to rest and linger before heading south into the more civilized part of Mendocino. Most of the historic Victorian buildings in town were built in the mid- to late 1800s. Depending on your inclination and disposition, you can choose from a variety of routes through town. The most direct line is to follow Hesser Drive east to Lansing, [5] then south back to Main, [6], and eventually return to Ford House. [7]

1. 0.0 Start at Ford House Visitor Center
2. 0.1 Turn right at junction
3. 0.5 Straight at Portuguese Beach junction
4. 2.4 Reach end of trail at parking area
5. 2.6 Turn right at Lansing Street
6. 3.1 Turn right at Main Street
7. 3.2 Return to visitor center

Table of Contents

Redwoods Coast Trails Table
The Redwood Coast Map
Using Top Trails

Organization of Top Trails
Choosing a Trail
Introduction to Location
Geography & Topography
When to Go
Trail Selection
Key Features
Trail Safety
Fees, Camping & Permits
On the Trail
Have a Plan
Carry the Essentials
Other Useful Items
Trail Etiquette

Chapter 1
1 Big Hendy Loop
2 Montgomery Woods Trail
3 Fern Canyon & Pygmy Forest Loop
4 Chapman Point & Spring Ranch Headlands
5 Big River Haul Road
6 Mendocino Headlands
7 Forest History Trail
8 Russian Gulch Loop
9 Point Cabrillo Light Station
10 Ecological Staircase Trail
11 Chamberlain Creek Falls Loop
12 Ten Mile Beach

Chapter 2
King Range & Sinkyone Wilderness
13 Lost Coast Trail: North Section
14 Lightning Trail to King Peak
15 Lost Coast Trail: South Section

Chapter 3
16 Franklin K. Lane Loop
17 Stephens Grove Loop
18 Nature Trail Loop
19 Founders Grove & Mahan Loop
20 Rockefeller Grove Loop
21 Big Tree Loop
22 Big Tree & Homestead Loop
23 Bull Creek Flats & Big Tree Loop
24 Allens Trail
25 High Rock River Trail
26 Grieg, French & Bell Groves Loop
27 Drury-Chaney Loop
28 Cheatham Grove
29 Elk River Trail

Chapter 4
Redwood National Park & Vicinity
30 Trinidad Head Loop
31 Agate Beach & Rim Trails
32 Stone Lagoon
33 Redwood Creek Trail
34 Lady Bird Johnson Grove
35 Tall Trees Grove
36 Emerald Ridge Loop
37 Dolason Prairie Trail
38 Lyons Ranch Loop
39 Coastal Trail: Skunk Cabbage Section
40 Trillium Falls Loop

Chapter 5
Prairie Creek
41 Fern Canyon Loop
42 Irvine & Miners Loop
43 Big Tree Loop
44 Brown Creek Loop
45 West Ridge & Prairie Creek Loop
46 Hope Creek & Ten Taypo Creek Loop
47 Ossagon Trail

Chapter 6
Del Norte Coast Redwoods
48 Yurok Loop & Hidden Beach
49 Klamath Overlook
50 Damnation Creek Trail
51 Coastal Trail: Enderts Beach
52 Coastal Trail: Crescent Beach

Chapter 7
Jedediah Smith Redwoods
53 Boy Scout Tree Trail
54 Stout Grove Loop
55 Leiffer & Ellsworth Loops
56 Simpson-Reed & Peterson Loop
57 Myrtle Creek Trail

Appendix 1: Top-Rated Trails
Appendix 2: Campgrounds & RV Parks
Appendix 3: Hotels, Lodges, Motels, & Resorts
Appendix 4: Major Organizations
Appendix 5: Useful Resources
Author and Series Creator

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