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9 Best hikes in Redwood National Park

9 Best hikes in Redwood National Park

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With every national park in America we visited, we tried to fit in a good hike. In some national parks, we managed to fit in more than one hike (like in Arches National Park). We did one big day hike in Redwood National Park and a couple of shorter walks to see some of the more famous big trees. If you’re looking for hikes in among the California Redwoods then check out the list below which includes easy hikes, moderate hikes and backpacking trails in Redwood National Park.

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Best hikes in Redwood National Park, California

Below is a list of the best hiking trails in Redwood National Park. There’s also park information so you can actually get to these Redwood National Park hikes.

Where is Redwood National Park located?

If you’re wondering, like I was when we were driving through this part of the US, “where is the Redwood forest?” then there’s are multiple answers. There are some redwood forests near San Francisco, but the Redwood National Park area is in northern California along the coastline. It’s about 1.5 hour’s drive from the Oregon-California border. Roughly 6 hours from Redwood National Park to San Francisco and almost 7 hours from Portland in Oregon.

Check out this guide to visiting Redwood National and Redwood State Parks

Redwood National Park entrance fees

Redwood National and State Parks are fee-free with the exception of day-use areas within the Prairie Creek Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks.

Fern Canyon is within a day-use area and requires paying a day-use fee of $8 per car or showing a federal pass such as the America is Beautiful Parks Pass.

While Redwood National Park is free, if you’re planning on visiting a few US National Parks over the course of a year then consider buying the “America is Beautiful National Parks Pass. It’s valid for a whole year and gets you entry into hundreds of National Parks, State Parks and historic and national monuments too.

best hikes in redwood national park, CA

best hikes in redwood national park, CA

Best Redwood National Park hikes

Whether you’ve only got a few hours, or days, are an experienced hiker or just getting started, there’s a hike in Redwood National Park, California for you. One of my top recommendations for things to do in Redwood National Park is to go hiking so get out there and hit the Redwood National Park trails!

Redwood National Park maps

You can see a complete list of the Redwood Park map here from the National Parks Service.

If you’re going hiking to find even more giant redwood trees you’ll need a Redwoods trail map as there’s limited signal within the park and the trails can be confusing. I recommend this one.

If you’re doing a moderate hike or going backpacking, it’s strongly advised to take a proper trail map with you. While you can get a basic map from the Redwood National Park visitor centres they’re not very well detailed for longer hikers. I recommend the following to help you plan your Redwoods hikes:

See my day hiking packing list here

Things to consider going on Redwood hikes

Best day hikes in Redwood National Park

Technically these hikes are in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (with the exception of the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Lost Man Creek Trails) which is slightly north of the area designated Redwood National Park. However, the state parks and national park in this area are often grouped together so the hikes will be referred to as being in Redwood National Park.

Easy day hiking in Redwood National Park

These easy day hikes are a great way to experience hiking Redwood National Park if you’re short on time.

best hikes redwood national park

Circle Trail to Big Tree Wayside

The Circle Trail is a great chance to see some of the giant redwood forest in Redwood National Park without having to go on a long hike. It’s great ‘bang for your buck’ which makes it one of the best Redwood hikes.

The Big Tree in Redwood National Park or “Big Tree Wayside” as it’s better known, is one of the largest of the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park old-growth coast redwoods. This tree is thought to be around 1,500 years old and over 350 feet high!

This is a great hike for kids in Redwood National Park and there is also parking and an accessible trail.

Distance: 0.2 miles
30 minutes

Revelation Trail

This trail is one of the Redwood hiking trails specially made for the visually impaired and encourages you to engage all of your senses to experience the redwood forest in new ways.

On this trail, you can touch the rough bark of a redwood and compare it to the soft feel of a moss-covered fir or spruce. Listen to the sounds of the creek in the background as you walk, smell the sharp aroma of California bay and taste the tartness of redwood sorrel.

If you’re travelling the Redwoods with kids this is one of the best trails in Redwood National Park for them as there’s plenty to keep them interested.

Distance: 0.3 miles
30 minutes 

fern canyon loop trail redwood national park

from flickr by Kirt Edblom

Fern Canyon Loop Trail

The Fern Canyon trail offers different views to most of the other hikes in Redwood National Park. Here you’ll see some amazing ferns which cling to Fern Canyon’s shadowy 30-foot cliffs. They’re ancient species whose ancestry can be traced back 325 million years.

Keep an eye out for velvety five-fingered ferns, dark green sword ferns, and delicate lady ferns.

We joined this up with the James Irvine Trail but couldn’t quite access the canyon due to flooding and freeezing river water during our visit. Believe me, I tried!

Distance: 0.7 miles
30 minutes – 1 hour
Minimal, some trees to go under/over

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail is within the area dedicated Redwood National Park. The walk takes you through old-growth redwood, Douglas-fir and tanoak.

At the trailhead, you can pick up a leaflet which corresponds with marked posts along the trail and tells you about the historical significance along the way.

This is a great trail for the shoulder seasons as you’ll see rhododendrons and azaleas abound in springtime and vine and big maple leads during the fall.

Distance: 1 mile 
30 minutes – 1hour

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Moderate/Strenuous hikes in Redwood National Park

These hikes are more difficult as they’re longe and tend to include a bit more elevation too. If you’re doing one of these hikes make sure you’ve packed plenty of snacks and layers as well as a trail map.

James Irvine Trail

The James Irvine Trail is one of the best redwood trails. This hike takes you alongside Godwood Creek and winds up and down through beautiful the beautiful redwood forests. At the end of this trail, you can add the Fern Canyon Loop trail and even visit Gold Bluffs Beach too.

We did this hike after it was recommended to us by the staff at the visitors’ centre and it was awesome.

Distance: 4.2 miles (10 miles to beach and back)
3-5 hours

Elk Prairie Trail

This trail takes you through one of the most heavily populated Roosevelt Elk areas in the Redwood Parks. It gives you an excellent opportunity to do some wildlife spotting of the elk in their natural habitats.

As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for evidence of the elks who have rubbed their antlers on the trees as they pass.

Distance: 2.8 miles
1-2 hours

Lost Man Creek Trail (bikes allowed)

On the Lost Man Creek trail in Redwood National Park you can’t fail but be amazed by the heights of these giant redwoods. Walk along an old logging road and wind through a stream valley before crossing a wide bridge to the other side of Lost Man Creek. From this section of the trail, you’ll see five-finger ferns, wild ginger and deer ferns growing and thriving beneath the redwood and tanoak trees.

There’s no obligation to finish the whole length of this trail, most people tend to walk for a few hours or so before turning back. It’s a very quiet and peaceful trail with not many hikers compared to some of the others on this list so it’s perfect if you’re looking to get away from it all.

Bikes are allowed on this trail which is a great way to do the trail at a quicker pace. But, if you’re hiking just be aware!

Distance: 20 miles
10 hours

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Backpacking Redwood National Park

Want to do some redwood national park backpacking? There are some great backcountry hikes in Redwood National Park on over 200 miles worth of trails! If you plan on backcountry camping then you’ll need to get a backcountry permit. They’re free and are issued in person 24 hours ahead of time from the Hiouchi or Kuchel visitor centres. Permits are limited and are issued on a first-come, first served basis.

When planning your backcountry hike in the Redwoods, take a look at the backcountry trip planner to find out what redwood backcountry experiences are best for you. You’ll need to decide where you’re camping in order to get a permit.

You must stay in one of the 7 designated backcountry campsites and be aware that you’ll be camping in areas where mountain lions and bears are presents.

The Coastal Trail
the coastal trail redwood national park hiking

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The Coastal Trail takes you along a coastal bluff where you’ll hear the sounds of gulls, sea lions and waves crashing on the beach. If you look out to sea you may spot a grey whale! And don’t forget to keep a lookout for crabs and starfish in the rock pools! This trail doesn’t take you through the redwood forest (although you’ll see it) but offers a different experience of sandy beaches and beautiful coastline along the 70 miles of trail.

The Coastal Tail is nearly continuous in the parks but has one area where you need to take the Highway 101 bridge over the Klamath River.

The sections with more details can be seen here.

Distance: 70 miles
3+ days

Redwood Creek Trail

The Redwood Creek trail is one of the most popular Redwood forest hikes in Redwood National Park. It’s 16 miles long so could be done with a long day hiking but is more enjoyable as an overnight backpacking trip.

On the Redwood Creek Trail, you’ll follow the Redwood Creek through a valley lined with ferns and brushy trees before coming to a bridge into Tall Trees Grove at the end of the trail. Look for the massive Libby Tree at 368ft tall which was discovered by National Geographic in 1963 and is considered to be among the tallest trees in the world!

This site has a great description of the trail.

Distance: 16 miles