North of Eureka, Patrick’s Point State Park sits on a lushly forested promontory beside the Pacific Ocean
HIGHLIGHTS: Located 25 miles north of Eureka California, Patrick’s Point is a park located in the heart of California’s coast redwood country. The one-square-mile park is densely packed with potential adventures. On a short walk around the perimeter of the park you can hunt for agates (semi-precious gemstones), explore tidepools, walk through a jungle of shrubs and trees as you peer out at seals, sea lions, and migrating whales. In the park’s interior, you’ll find a visitor center, a native plant garden and a reconstructed Yurok plank-house village. You can picnic, or wake up to birdsong at one of three campgrounds. In summer you can witness a traditional ceremony at Sumêg Village or take a hike led by a docent or professional naturalist.
You don’t have to go far to find something fascinating at Patrick’s Point.
ACTIVITIES: Beachcombing, wildlife watching, hiking, camping, picnicking, and learning natural and cultural history.
JUST FOR KIDS:
- Aimed at kids age 7 through 12, Junior Ranger programs (external link) are offered during the summer months. Check on park bulletin boards or at the park entrance station (707-677-3570) or the visitor center (707-677-1945) for days and times. School program field trips are available mid-February through mid-June and September through the end of October. If there is room in the schedule, other guests may be accommodated in the off-season, too. Call 707-677-3110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org well in advance for reservations.
- Any time of year, you and your kids can work your way through a state park Adventure Guide together. Download the guide, pick it up at the visitor center, or call 916-653-8959 to order a copy.
- Redwood EdVenture Quest, Fun for the entire family. Take a self-guided treasure hunt in many North Coast redwood state parks, including Patrick’s Point. Find the final clue and win a cool patch!
VISITOR CENTER: The park’s visitor center contains exhibits highlighting the park’s natural and cultural history.
About 120 individual (family) campsites are spread among the Penn Creek, Abalone, and Agate Beach campgrounds. Each has a table and a fire pit. Water faucets, restrooms, and coin-operated showers are nearby. RVs up to 31 feet.
The Beach Creek and Red Alder Group Camps can each accommodate up to 100 people. A covered cook shelter, picnic tables and fire pits are provided in group camps, with spigots, restrooms and coin-operated showers nearby.
Individual and group campsite reservations are made through Reserve America. Call 1-800-444-7275 or go to reserveamerica.com
TRAILS: Six miles of trails 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.
- Rim Trail (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. 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.
- Visitor Center to Sumêg Village and Ceremonial Rock (less than 1 mile round-trip): From the visitor center, you’re only about a 5-minute walk away from Sumêg Village 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. 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 Martin: “One account says that early homesteaders called it that because it sits ceremoniously in the field.”
- Agate Campground to Agate Beach (0.5 miles round-trip): 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. If you see people hiking up the trail with clawed sticks, they may be agate hunters. The beach’s supply of semi-precious stones is regularly replenished by the ocean so feel free to take home a souvenir or two. 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. Or 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.
- Rim Trail Grand Tour (4 miles round-trip including several short side trips): 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.
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT:Wedding Rock, Patrick’s Point and
Palmer’s Point offer viewpoints of the spring and fall migrations of the California gray whale.
HIDDEN GEM: Keen-eyed visitors occasionally find petrified wood.
FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: 50% discount camping and day-use pass. Two all-access trails. Parking and some campsites, picnic tables, restrooms. Some assistance may be needed getting into the visitor center.
DOGS: On leash in developed areas. Not allowed on trails.
ENTRANCE FEE: $8 for day-use vehicle entry; no charge to walk or bike into the park.
MORE INFORMATION: Check out the park’s website. The park entrance station number is 707-677-3570. The visitor center number is 707-677-1945.
To make arrangements for school field trips, weddings or special events, please contact park interpretive specialist Nancy Jo Martin at least one month in advance at 707-677-3110 or email@example.com.
California’s Redwood Coast website (external site) offers resources to help plan your trip to Humboldt County.
- If you have an hour, drive out Wedding Rock Road to make the short steep climb up to Wedding Rock. Or, in wet weather, explore North Coast Native American history at Sumêg Village.
- If you have half a day, walk the spectacular outer perimeter of the park on the 2-mile-long Rim Trail. Start at Palmer’s Point and end at Agate Beach. As time allows, explore some of the steep, intriguing spur trails leading to the edge of the water. At low tide, check out the world-class tidepools at Palmer’s Point.
- If you have a full day, explore Sumêg Village, the native plant garden, the Visitor Center, and Ceremonial Rock or Lookout Rock in the morning. Spend the rest of the day on the Rim Trail and its outward spurs.
EAT: In nearby Trinidad, Christine Aralia, Land Project Manager, likes the Moonstone Grill (external link) for the good food, wine list and its lovely ocean views. She also suggests the Larrupin’ Cafe (external link) for dinner; they specialize in Cajun and local cuisine. The Seascape Restaurant (external link) is a great spot for breakfast. The lagoons also offer beautiful scenery for a picnic.
STOP: Christine also suggests Trinidad Bay (external link) as the place to stay.
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Acres Protected by the League: 423
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