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Rhododendrons in the Spring
April 15, 2015 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
The hillside trails of Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, (a part of the Redwood National and State Park system) have exceptionally thick concentrations of wild Pacific rhododendrons, and are some of the best viewing places.
What to look for:
Rhododendrons are easy enough to spot, with or without blossoms. They are evergreen bushes, up to 12 feet tall, with soft, leathery, deep green leaves 3 to 6 inches in length. Come bloom time, you can’t miss them. Their bright, rounded clusters of large, tubular flowers resemble spotlights against the dark trunks of redwood trees.
The two-mile Rhododendron Trail is just north of the Prairie Creek State Park Visitors Center, on the east side of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, is one of the better places to start, or the Rhododendron Trail trailhead at the end of Cal-Barrel Road.
You can do a longer loop hike from nearby Big Tree, the Cathedral Trees Grove, and the trailheads for the nearby Brown Creek and South Fork trails. (These trails also branch out from the Visitors Center)
Bloom predictions can be difficult given seasonal weather variations, but they usually flower in April and May. A second burst of late bloomers often comes a month or so later.
There are other locations and flowers to consider for spring hikes, of course. Put a short hike through the Azalea State Reserve on your things to do list.
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park has loads of rhodies. And wild azaleas, which also live in redwood forests, can put on impressive displays of white flowers in June and July.