Humboldt Redwoods State Park has something for everyone on more than 100 miles of trails. Detailed, full-color topographical maps are available by sending $3 check or money order and your address to: Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association,
P.O. Box 276, Weott, CA 95571.
Summer bridges: For backcountry access, the park installs summer footbridges at the following locations:
- The Big Trees area, crossing Bull Creek
- Lower Bull Creek Flats, near Rockefeller Loop Trail, crossing Bull Creek
- Women’s Federation Grove, crossing South Fork Eel
- Burlington, crossing South Fork Eel
- Garden Club of America Grove, crossing South Fork Eel
These bridges generally go in by the middle of May and are taken out by early October. But late or early rains can change these dates. Call the park or check at the visitor center to check their status. Bring water, appropriate clothing, and a map.
What To Do
Hiking, camping, running, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, bicycling, picnicking, horseback riding, and (of course) gazing at wonderful trees—there’s a long list of ways to enjoy Humboldt Redwoods State Park and a wide variety of activities and facilities are available. Start at the visitor center and branch out into one of the finest forests in the world. Bring water, appropriate clothing, and a park map.
More than 250 family campsites in three different campgrounds, plus environmental camps, group camps, trail camps, and a horse camp. A hundred-plus miles of trails await exploration by hikers, cyclists, and equestrians. The South Fork Eel River provides fishing, boating, and swimming opportunities while several-day use areas are ideal for picnicking, family activities, or merely enjoying the pristine environment.
If you have an hour, drive the 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants. Stop at the visitor center and admire the 300-foot-tall redwoods on the Gould Grove Nature Trail.
If you have half a day, take a drive on the Avenue and explore the lush forest on a 1.3-mile-long trail through Founder’s Grove. Walk along the fallen Dyerville Giant.
If you have a full day, drive the Avenue, stopping at the Federation of Women’s Clubs Hearthstone and Founders Grove in the morning. Somewhere along the way (possibly in the excellent swimming hole beside the hearthstone), take a dip in the South Fork of the Eel River. In the afternoon, explore Rockefeller Forest, part of the largest expanse of old-growth redwoods on the planet.
The following are mostly on level ground on well-maintained trails.
Founder’s Grove Nature Loop
0.6 miles, 30 minutes, level
The self-guided Founders’ Grove Nature Loop features the Founders’ Tree, named in honor of the founders of the Save the Redwoods League, and the Dyerville Giant, a 362-foot redwood that fell in 1991 and now provides nutrients to the forest. Start at Founder’s Grove parking area, Avenue of the Giants mile marker 20.5, 4.1 miles north of park headquarters. Brochures are available at the trailhead.
For an interesting sidetrip that will more than double your mileage, take the turnoff to the Mahan Plaque Loop (about halfway around the Founder’s Grove Loop). If you're observant, you might spot the alabaster leaves of a 50-foot albino redwood along the way. It's a parasite that grows out of the root collar of an adjacent tree. The Founder's Grove/Mahan Plaque hike is about a mile and a half away.
Gould Grove Nature Trail
0.6 miles, 30 minutes, level
The short Gould Grove Nature Trail features 300-foot trees, evidence of early logging, and easy access to the river. Is ADA accessible and has interpretive signs. Start directly across the road from the visitor center at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 16.5.
1.7 miles, 1.25 hours, level
Here at the north end of the park, cooler temperatures and more fog create a lush carpet of greenery under the lofty old-growth redwoods of the Drury-Chaney Loop. Start at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 43.9, just south of the town site of Pepperwood.
Stephen’s Grove Loop
0.7 miles, 30 minutes, level
Stephen’s Grove was one of the first groves protected by the park. It served as a campground before the floods of 1955 and 1964, but was buried under layers of silt. Look closely as you walk the Stephen’s Grove Loop—can you find traces of old roadways and picnic tables? The redwood forest reclaims its territory quickly!
Start at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 7.0, just north of the town of Miranda. 9.5 miles south of park headquarters.
0.7 miles, 30 minutes, elevation change 20 feet
Rockefeller Loop explores the majestic Rockefeller Forest near the confluence of Bull Creek and the South Fork of the Eel River. Trees soaring to immense heights combine with an open understory to create a fairy-tale forest! Start 1.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on the Mattole Road, which breaks off at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 20.6, at Dyerville.
The following hikes are 2.2–7.5 miles long, with moderate elevation gains.
Bull Creek Trail North
3.7 miles or about 2 hours each way; elevation change, 200 feet
Bull Creek Trail North is accessible year-round and offers a walk through the forest primeval—the largest old-growth redwood forest remaining in the world! Start either at Lower Bull Creek Flats (1.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road) or Big Trees (4.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road).
Bull Creek Trail, North and South Loop
7.5 mile loop, about 4 hours, elevation change 500 feet
When summer bridges are installed, you can get a great look at the magnificent Rockfeller Forest from by taking Bull Creek Trail North in one direction and Bull Creek Trail South in the other. Start at either Lower Bull Creek Flats (1.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road) or Big Trees (4.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road).
River Trail, North Section
3.6 miles, about 2 hours one way, elevation change 300 feet
Following the west bank of the South Fork Eel River, the River Trail, North Section can be hiked out and back or as a one-way route with a shuttle. But it’s only accessible in the summer, when the bridges are installed. At the Garden Club of America Grove, River Trail South is closed due to bridges lost in the Canoe Creek fire of 2003. For River Trail North, start at either the Burlington summer bridge near park headquarters or at Lower Bull Creek Flats, 1.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.
Johnson Prairie Trail, aka Addie Johnson Trail
2.2 miles total, about 1.5 hours, elevation change 600 feet
The Johnson Prairie Trail (also know as the Addie Johnson Trail) is short, but gains elevation quickly. It takes you through the redwoods to Johnson Prairie, named for Addie and Tosaldo Johnson, who homesteaded here in the 1870s. Addie’s grave lies at the end of the trail. The prairie offers magnificent views of Grasshopper Peak. Start at an unmarked turnout 0.1 mile west of the Big Trees area, which is 4.2 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road. Return the way you came.
These hikes are 10.5 to 13.6 miles long and have significant elevation gains. Hikers should be in good shape and inquire about conditions before going out.
10.5 miles roundtrip from Big Trees, 4 hours, elevation change 1,400 feet
12.9 miles from Grasshopper Multiuse Trail, 5 hours, elevation change 1,600 feet
The Johnson Camp Trail climbs through many interesting habitats, from an elevation of 200 feet in the redwood forest to 1,600 feet at Johnson Camp, where redwoods were made into railroad ties in the early 20th century. Several dilapidated cabins mark the site of this “tie-hackers” camp.
If the summer bridge is installed at Big Trees (4.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road), cross and start at Bull Creek Trail South. If the bridge is not installed, go past Big Trees to mile 5.1 instead, and turn left toward Grasshopper Multiuse Trailhead. Head east on Bull Creek Trail South from there. The first option will save you 2.4 miles.
Johnson Trail Loop
10.7 miles, 5 hour, elevation change, 1,600 feet
Start Johnson Trail Loop at the Grasshopper Multiuse Trail (5.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road), take Bull Creek Trail South to Johnson Camp Trail. Return on the Grasshopper Multiuse Trail.
Look Prairie Multi-use Trail to Peavine Ridge
7 miles roundtrip, 4.5 hours, elevation change 2,200 feet
Look Prairie Multi-use Trail Loop
13.6 miles, 8 hours, elevation change 2,400 feet
From redwoods, 3.5-mile-long Look Prairie Multi-use Trail climbs to a prairie with stunning views and into a beautiful old-growth redwood/Douglas-fir forest. For a 7-mile hike, you can turn around at Peavine Ridge. For an all-day hike with even more variety, turn left and walk 3.7 miles along the ridge on the Peavine Ridge Trail, then head downhill (south) on the Thornton Multi-use Trail. At Albee Creek Campground, head down the road and turn east on Homestead Trail, hiking 1.2 miles back to the start. For the longer hike, leave early and take plenty of water! For both, start at the base of the Look Prairie Multi-use Trail, 4 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.
13.4 miles, 8 hours, elevation change 3,100 feet
Grasshopper Peak is the toughest hike in the park! The reward for the effort is a 100-mile view in all directions (at elevation 3,379 feet). Leave early in the day and take plenty of water. Start at Grasshopper Multi-use Trail, 5.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.
Auto Tour brochures are available at either end of the Avenue of the Giants and at the visitor center. During the summer season, such interpretive activities as nature walks, Junior Ranger programs, and campfire programs are held daily.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the site of two marathon races within the first three weekends of May and October every year. These marathons close two of the main roads through the park for up to six hours. For dates and details, contact the Avenue of the Giants Marathon (spring) or the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon (fall).