Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Rugged coastline and ancient redwood forests
HIGHLIGHTS: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park lies right on the Pacific Coast, just south of Crescent City, California. It offers 8 miles of rugged coastline, a mixed forest of Sitka spruce, Douglas-fir, red alder, and some fine old-growth redwoods. Its 33,000 acres are managed cooperatively by state and federal parks administrators, along with the Prairie Creek and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks and Redwood National Park. Save the Redwoods League helped to protect over 3,300 acres in this park.
ACTIVITIES: Hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching, plant studying, and tide pooling. VISITOR CENTER: There is no visitor center in Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP.
VISITOR CENTER: There is no visitor center for this park.
CAMPGROUNDS: With 145 sites, Mill Creek Campground is open from May through September and offers views of both spring wildflowers and autumn colors. Amenities include bear-resistant lockers and restrooms with showers. To make a reservation, call (800) 444-7275 or visit www.reserveamerica.com. The campground is about 7 miles south of Crescent City, 2 miles off Highway 101.
TRAILS: The Damnation Creek Trail is steep. It starts at about 1,000 feet in elevation and dips down to sea level in one mile. But it's well worth it. Allow 3 hours or so for the 4.4 mile round trip. You'll be rewarded with old-growth redwoods, Sitka spruce, exquisite ocean views-and in May and June, masses of rhododendrons in bloom. From Highway 101 in Crescent City, go south 8 miles to a signed turnout on the west at mile marker 16.
Mill Creek forest, a former logging site now part of Del Norte Redwoods State Park, was left with many crumbling roads that could cause catastrophic landslides and harm forests and imperiled salmon. Once restored, Mill Creek will grow to resemble an ancient forest with a thick canopy, clear streams and abundant fish and wildlife. The health of this forest is critical to protect nearby ancient stands including Stout Grove. Learn how the League is helping to restore this forest.
Mill Creek is an interesting place to visit because you can compare the few remaining stands of old-growth forest with the logged areas in different phases of regrowth and restoration. Visitors may explore the old logging trails; bikes and dogs are welcome. Mill Creek forest is accessible on Saturdays and Sundays year-round, and is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The entrance gate is 3 miles south of Crescent City on the east side of Highway 101 (look for Hamilton Road and the Mill Creek Watershed sign).
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: With Save the Redwoods League's help, 25,000 acres were added to the park in 2003 to protect chinook and coho salmon. Ask at the parks headquarter (see "More Information" below) about guided walks along Mill Creek to see the salmon spawn in December and January.
HIDDEN GEM: If you start your Damnation Creek hike about an hour before low tide, you'll have good conditions for tide pooling-and you may be able to add crabs, sea stars and sea anemones to your species list.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park; The North Coast Redwood Interpretive Association (NCRIA) or call the 4-park headquarters, the Crescent City Information Center, 1111 Second St., Crescent City CA, at (707) 465-7335.
EAT: Christine Aralia, Land Project Manager, recommends eating at Good Harvest Cafe in Crescent City - it offers large portions and fresh ingredients.
STOP: Megan Ferreira, Major Gifts Officer suggests a stop in Arcata to pick up a picnic lunch at Wild Berries market.
FAVORITE HIKE: Christine prefers the Damnation Creek Trail, which plunges through a virgin redwood forest to a hidden rocky beach.
FAVORITE PARK ATTRACTION: Megan says "The Mill Creek Campground is wonderful. There are campfires almost every night at the amphitheater and are quite enjoyable for campers of all ages."
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