Six miles of trail run throughout this diverse park, many with spectacular vistas. Hiking the Rim Trail, you may see harbor seals, sea lions, and (if you are lucky) a gray whale. Two all-access trails to coast overlooks are also available. A couple of short, steep trails make it possible to climb Ceremonial Rock and Lookout Rock. These rocks are really old sea stacks that were left high and dry when the ocean receded. In some parts of the park, spruce, alder, and ferns are so abundant that hikers are sheltered by walls of vegetation.
Bring water, appropriate clothing, and a park map.
2 miles one way from Palmer’s Point Road to Agate Campground
You can access the park’s awe-inspiring Rim Trail from most anywhere on the perimeter of the park, including Palmer’s Point Road, Abalone Campground, Wedding Rock Road, and Agate Beach Campground. Choose any segment to enjoy splendid views of the California Coast.Visitor Center to Sumêg Village and Ceremonial Rock
In some places the views are unobstructed. In others you’ll be walking through cozy tunnel of Sitka spruce, red alder, salal, salmon berry, rhododendrons and other hardy seaside vegetation. Listen for winter wrens and varied thrushes. Look seaward for marine mammals. And don’t forget to look up—bald eagles, osprey, and other interesting birds may be soaring overhead.
less than 1 mile roundtrip
From the visitor center, you’re only about a 5-minute walk away from Sumêg Village [link to Sumêg Village description below] and the native plant garden. Take some time to imagine how it might have been to live here centuries ago as you look at redwood houses, a sweat lodge, a dance house, and a redwood canoe.Agate Campground to Agate Beach
Members of the Yurok Tribe and park staff built the village in the 1990s. Each year at the end of June, Yuroks gather for a “brush dance,” a healing ceremony. Other traditional events are held here, including “flower dances” when a young girl becomes a woman. Sumêg Village keeps cultural history alive and passes it on for the future.
From the north end of Sumêg Village, it’s only a quarter mile to a mossy, tree-studded rock in the center of the park: Ceremonial Rock. A stone stairway leads up 107 feet to the former sea stack. Were native ceremonies ever held here? No one seems to know, says Patrick’s Point Interpretive Specialist Nancy Jo Martin: “One account says that early homesteaders called it that because it sits ceremoniously in the field.”
0.5 miles roundtrip
Drive along Park Entrance Road to the parking area on the east side of Agate Campground. From there, it’s a steep quarter-mile walk to Agate Beach. Keen-eyed visitors also occasionally find petrified wood. Wildflowers grace the upper edges of the beach in spring and early summer, including strawberries, sand verbena, and yellow monkey flower. Sitka spruce stand like sentinels on the bluffs above.Wedding Rock, Patrick’s Point
about 1 mile
You can get to Wedding Rock and Patrick’s Point Overlook midway through any journey around the Rim Trail. Alternatively, you can drive out Park Entrance Road, turn left on Wedding Rock Road and head to a parking circle. From there it’s about a quarter mile to Wedding Rock or Patrick’s Point Overlook. Take your pick—or do both.
Interpretive Specialist Nancy Jo Martin tells an interesting story about how Wedding Rock got its name. The park’s first caretaker, Viggo Anderson, was a lonely European immigrant. He met a girl from McKinleyville named Verda. They went to ice cream socials and wrote letters to each other. After a while, Viggo ask if Verda if she would come be his housekeeper. Verda’s mother opposed the idea, saying “No, you won’t, young lady. You’ll ruin your reputation.” But Verda came anyway. Two weeks later, Viggo and Verda were the first people to get married at Wedding Rock.
“They were also the first people to neglect to think about how their less-able friends and relatives would get out there,” says Martin. Among the dozens of couples who get married at Wedding Rock each year, Martin has gotten a few panicked calls from brides saying, ‘How am I going to get my grandmother on the rock?’ Her standard tongue-in-cheek reply: “Are you strong?”
Rim Trail Grand Tour
4 miles roundtrip, with several short sidetrips possible
Once a path used by native peoples, Rim Trail showcases the Pacific Ocean and the California Coast from Big Lagoon to Trinidad Head. The trail stretches from Palmer’s Point Road in the southern part of the park to Agate Campground in the northeast. You can add challenge to this grand tour by taking any of the steep quarter-mile spur trails that connect to the shoreline.
Return the way you came, or use the park map to help you cross the interior of the park. For example, you can head east from Agate Beach Campground on the trail to Ceremonial Rock and Lookout Rock. Or you can head south to see Sumêg Village and the native plant garden. Or both. Most options require using park roads at times, but most are footpaths.
North on California Coastal Trail
6.4 miles one way to Dry Lagoon
12.2 miles one way to Orick
When conditions are right, you can walk along the California Coastal Trail from Agate Beach Campground to Dry Lagoon in Humboldt Lagoons State Park. If you’re even more ambitious (and can arrange a car shuttle), you can go all the way to the Redwood National and State Parks information center in Orick.
But be careful about the timing. During the rainy season, the ocean occasionally breaches this trail, making it impassable. On the first leg of this route, there’s breach at Big Lagoon every year. There’s also a place near the end of the first leg where a tide that is 2 feet high or more will make it impossible to pass. On the second leg, there’s a breach at Stone Lagoon every three years or so. It’s best to avoid this hike in the rainy season. Call the park or stop in at the visitor center to check on tides and trail conditions before you go. The park entrance station number is 707-677-3570. The visitor center is 707-677-1945.