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California Redwoods Scenic Drive

Forest Route

California, USA

Experience the stunning beauty of California's Redwoods on a scenic drive, surrounded by towering trees, wildlife and peaceful serenity, making it a truly unforgettable journey through one of the world's most ancient forests.

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Redwoods, Forest, Hiking

3,1,11,10,9

184 mi / 296 km

Required (see below)

Arcata-Eureka (ACV)

Sealed

Spring, Autumn

Towering Trees in California's Last Remaining Old-growth Forests

Our route through the towering forests of Northern California traverses the whole of the legendary Avenue of the Giants and some of the most jaw-dropping sections of the Redwoods Highway. This is a land dominated by trees; trees that are over 300 foot tall and more than 1,500 years old.

It begins with a bang, as you stroll under the hulking, bark-covered behemoths of the Founders Grove, one of the most expansive clusters of giant sequoias left on the Pacific Coast. That heralds the beginning of your drive up the Avenue of the Giants, a winding, wiggling roadway that skirts the Humboldt Redwoods forest as spear-like groups of mighty firs and pines lurch up all sides. There are umpteen trails, like the easy Drury-Chaney Trail, a loop through sorrel-carpeted woods that glow 10,000 shades of green.

Driving through these majestic forests is a transformative experience, immersing travelers in a world of tranquility and grandeur. The sunlight filters through the canopy, casting a soft glow on the forest floor. The air is infused with the earthy scent of moss and damp soil, creating an atmosphere of serenity.

Amidst the towering trees, wildlife finds refuge. Delicate ferns carpet the forest floor, while shafts of sunlight illuminate vibrant wildflowers. Birds chirp in harmony, adding a melodic soundtrack to the drive, and occasionally, a glimpse of a deer or elk graces the scene, reminding us of the diverse and thriving ecosystem that calls these forests home.

A remarkable discovery was made here in 1994. Dr. Suzanne Simard and her team revealed the intricate underground network that connects the ancient redwood trees. Dr. Simard's groundbreaking research revealed that these interconnections allowed the redwoods to support and sustain each other. They shared nutrients, water, and even chemical signals, enabling the entire forest to thrive as a unified organism.

As you head out of the forest, the air suddenly fills with the salty Pacific spray as you drive into Eureka. Catch a glimpse of the haunting Carson Mansion there, a spooky Victorian home that looks like something out of The Addams Family. Or visit the red pandas at the Sequoia Park Zoo, the oldest zoo in California – it's been going since 1907!

The next 30 miles whisks you along dramatic stretches of the West Coast. One moment you'll be feeling the power of the waves on Mad River Beach. The next you'll be gasping as the swells smash against the black rocks and black sands of Trinidad State Beach.

The culmination of the drive is a return to the old growth forests at the Redwood National Park. There, you'll get lost in lush Fern Grove, where 50-foot walls foliage drop down to a babbling river. And you'll hike the famous loop of Lady Bird Johnson Grove, a cloud-gathering bout of redwoods that spreads over a ridge 1,200 feet above sea level.

Finally, get up close to the gods of the tree world in the fabled Grove of the Titans, the home of the Del Norte Titan, a specimen of such epic proportions that you'd need seven fully grown adults to form a ring around its base!

As the drive through the Californian redwood forests draws to a close, a sense of gratitude and reverence lingers. The experience of being in the presence of these ancient giants leaves an indelible mark on the soul, a reminder of our connection to the natural world and our responsibility to preserve it.

Most accommodation is found in the Eureka and Crescent City areas, however if you'd prefer to stay in the Redwoods - try one of the many small towns near the start of the route (and to the south). Parking fees may apply for some areas - see signage on site. All listed hikes are permit free except for Fern Canyon located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. A reservation is also required in the warmer months, for more see: Redwood Parks Conservatory. If you're planning to visit many parks, a National Parks Annual Pass is recommended for access to more than 2,000 parks nation wide. Got a tip for this route? Send us yours! All roads are sealed except for 'Howland Hill Road' located at the end of the route. The road is a grade 2 dirt road and is reported as fine for 2WD cars. View current warnings for Redwood National Park. For other parks check with local authorities and on-site signage.

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