Patrick’s Point State Park
From Palmer’s Point to Agate Beach Campground is 4 miles round trip
Though Patrick’s Point State Park is positioned in the heart of the redwoods, other trees—Sitka Spruce, Douglas fir, and red alder—predominate on the park’s rocky promontories. The state park takes its name from Patrick Beegan, who homesteaded this dramatic, densely forested headland in 1851.
For hundreds of years the Yurok spent their summers in the Abalone Point area of the headlands. The Yurok gathered shellfish and hunted sea lions. A variety of game and a multitude of berries that were plentiful in the surrounding forest.
The area now called Patrick’s Point also had some spiritual significance to the native people. According to the Yurok belief, Sumig, the spirit of the porpoises, retired to Patrick’s Point when humans began populating the world.
Rim Trail follows an old Indian pathway over the park’s bluffs. Spur trails lead to rocky points that jut into the Pacific and offer commanding views of Trinidad Head to the south and Big Lagoon to the north.
Directions to trailhead: Patrick’s Point State Park is located thirty miles north of Eureka and five miles north of Trinidad. Exit Highway 101 on Patrick’s Point Drive and follow this road to the park. Once past the park entrance station, follow the signs to Palmer Point.
The hike: The trail plunges into a lush community of ferns, salmonberry, and salal. The scolding krrrack-krrrack of the Steller jay is the only note of dissent heard along the trail.
Abalone Point is the first of a half-dozen spur trails that lead from Rim Trail to Rocky Point, Patrick’s Point, Wedding Rock, Mussel Rocks, and Agate Beach.
Take any or all of them. (These side trails can sometimes be confused with Rim Trail; generally speaking, the spurs are much more steep than Rim Trail, which contours along without much elevation change.)
From Patrick’s Point and the other promontories, admire the precipitous cliffs and rock-walled inlets. Gaze offshore at the sea stacks, a line of soldiers battered by the surging sea. Seals and sea lions haul out on the offshore rocks, which also double as rookeries for gulls, cormorants and pigeon guillemots.
Rim Trail meanders through a tapestry of trillium and moss, rhododendron and azalea. Sword ferns point the way to a grove of red alder.
Rim Trail ends at the north loop of the Agate Beach Campground road.
Hikers wishing to explore Agate Beach should continue a short distance along the road to the signed trailhead for Agate Beach Trail. This short, steep trail switchbacks down to the beach.
In marked contrast to the park’s rocky shore that you observed from Rim Trail, Agate Beach is a wide swath of dark sand stretching north to the state parks at Big Lagoon.
Beachcombers prospect for agates in the gravel bars and right at the surf line. These agates are a nearly transparent variety of quartz, polished by sand and the restless sea. Jade, jaspar and other semiprecious stones are sometimes found here. One more noteworthy sight is the huge quantity and unique sea-sculpted quantity of the driftwood on this beach.
© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author. To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at www.thetrailmaster.com.