Redwood National Park is a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve and includes two state parks, Prairie Creek Redwoods on the southern end and Jedediah Smith on the northern end. We stayed near the southern end of the Park near Prairie Creek Redwoods. In a previous blog I wrote about exploring Fern Canyon which is located in Prairie Creek. There are a number of other trails in Prairie Creek so in this blog I will write about hiking three.
One of my all time favorite nature experiences is walking through the redwoods. There is nothing else like these tall trees in their lush green forests. It is pure magic walking among the tallest trees on earth. Coast redwoods can grow to over 300 feet and live to be 2,000 years old although most live from 500-700 years. My favorite hike during this trip was the Trillium Falls Trail and except for the first 1/2 mile or so, I had it all to myself. I was in awe of the redwood groves here. I thought this was the perfect redwood hike – a little up and down for some exercise and change of scenery but nothing difficult. The scenery was spectacular, the redwoods magnificent.
Walking in these woods I thought about the healing power of trees and Shinrin-yoku. I wrote about Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) in a blog last year about Lum’s Pond in Delaware. We had camped at the state park there and I spent some time walking the forest trail around the lake. It was the perfect place to try out forest bathing which is the art and science of healing the mind and body by immersing one’s self in the forest. This involves leaving the distractions of our lives and using all the senses – sight, sound, touch and taste to experience nature. Forest bathing is supposed to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, increase energy, improve mood and concentration.
To learn more about this practice I read an informative and interesting book written by Dr. Qing Li called “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness.” Dr. Li is considered an expert in forest medicine and has worked with patients at forest bathing centers in Japan. If you are interested in learning more about this practice I highly recommend this book. I got the book on Kindle and it includes beautiful photographs of Japanese forests. I had never thought before of Japan having such gorgeous forests! The book will change how you view a walk in the woods, time spent among trees and the importance of nature in our well-being.
Perhaps the most well known trail in Redwood National Park is the Lady Bird Johnson Trail. The former First Lady came to this site and dedicated Redwood National Park on November 25, 1968. She returned on August 27, 1969 to be honored by President Nixon with this grove of trees. This was in recognition of her devotion in protecting and creating natural habitats for the public to enjoy. At 1.5 miles the trail is short and easy to do, so many visitors to Redwood National Park like to walk it. Unlike the other redwood hikes I did that were lowland trails, this one is located at 1,200 feet on a ridge.
Located at this grove is a signboard with a photo of Lady Bird standing on a hill surrounded by a clear cut redwood forest. It was a sad situation that heavy logging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries destroyed much of the old growth forest. Today, most of the trees in Redwood National Park are second growth, although some old growth do remain. I am so thankful for our national park system and the efforts made by conservation groups to save lands that without their efforts we might not have today. Redwood National Park was saved through the efforts of the State of California and Save-the-Redwoods League that acquired hundreds of groves. As I walked the trails, I often came upon memorial groves that were purchased and dedicated to civic groups, family members and friends.
Starting at the Prairie Creek Redwoods Visitor Center are several trails leading into different parts of the forest. I chose the recommended Prairie Creek Trail which follows through some of the most impressive stands of trees and lush forest.
At one point I met two women hikers, one was down at the creek looking for something. It turned out they were salamander hunting. They said the salamanders are quite large here but so far they had only come across a baby one. I walked with them for awhile as they turned over rotting logs and searched the water’s edge with no success. We did find many mushrooms and large orange wood decay fungi on a downed tree. I actually saw little wildlife on my redwood hikes, not even banana slugs which are usually a sure sighting in a redwood forest.
I came across one of the park’s oddities – the unusual Corkscrew Tree that has four intertwined trunks reaching for the sky.
As I have said before, in my opinion there can never be too many ferns in the forest.
I hope you enjoyed a look at some of the hiking possibilities in Redwood National Park – one of my favorite places to walk! In my next post we travel on to the Oregon Coast with our first stop in Bandon.