And the time has come to start heading north. From San Francisco, we decided to take the less-than-direct route 1, which glides along the coast. All of those sharp 15 mph switchback roads were worth it for the beautiful views.
First stop, Fort Bragg
Halfway between San Francisco and the Redwood National Park, Fort Bragg was a great mid-way stop. Kyle and I spent most of the evening on Sea Glass Beach, reading our books and looking for sea glass, of course. And by the way, it was still way too cold to consider sitting on the beach without a minimum of three layers on. I actually dug out the winter hat…
And in the morning, we were able to drink our coffee along the beach, quiet and serene. Quiet, that is, except for the seals and sea lions barking off in the distance.
Stop two, “Famous” Drive-thru Tree
Continuing our journey up north, we saw a sign off the highway for the famous drive-thru tree, which, is just a large enough redwood that someone re-routed the road so that it would have to go through this tree. It turns out that there are multiple of these famous drive-thru trees, and they generally charge about $5 for you to drive your car through it.
But, I’m a sucker for tourist traps, and had to use the restroom, so we paid to see it.
Third stop, Patrick’s Point
We had booked a place in Trinidad, just south of Patrick Point State Park. It’s a smaller state park, but was great to walk around and see the trees meet the coast.
Not only is the coast stunning, but from a high enough viewpoint, you can actually whale watch. And it turns out, that this is whale migrating season. We stood for a while in a group of people exploding in excitement each time a whale tail came out, myself included.
Fourth and final stop, Redwood National and State Park
With our full day in Trinidad, we knew immediately we wanted to do a hike in the Redwoods. However, we weren’t totally prepared for the 13 mile hike we ended up on. With great advice from the Redwood visitor center, we started out in the Prairie Creek section of the park, which includes the majority of the original growth of the Redwoods, which is just 5% of what it once was. So of course, this is where all the big trees are.
At times it was difficult to walk, just because of how often you want to gaze up and take in the immaculate height of these trees.
And then we reached Fern Canyon, a gorge with ferns growing on the walls, in some locations up to 40 feet! According to the visitors center, parts of Jurassic Park were filmed here. This did not help the pterodactyl noises coming out of Kyle.
Onward, through a very confusing and muddy trail, we found the beach! We kept thinking how odd it must be that the edge of the Redwoods is actually directly adjacent to the coast, but the beach was astounding. The vista of the Redwoods in the distance made laying in the sand that much better.
Then, we walked back. With all of this backtracking, we’re pretty sure we ended up hiking just over 13 miles. Which meant… milkshakes, burgers (fish sandwich for me) and fries.