12 Best Hikes in Redwood National Park You Must Do

Lady Bird Johnson GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is famous for its stunning coastal redwood trees. The park is covered in lush forests, filled with giant trees and ancient ferns. Many of the redwoods here are over 300 feet tall and more than 2,000 years old!

The absolute best way to explore the redwoods up close is on a hike! This guide covers the best hikes in Redwood National Park, from strolls through redwood forests to longer coastal trails.

This post shares the best hikes in Redwood National Park, including:

  • How to get to Redwood National Park
  • Where to stay near the Redwoods
  • Best time to visit the Redwoods
  • Tips for visiting and park entrance fees
  • Best easy, moderate, strenuous, and backpacking trails throughout the park
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Looking for more ideas for your trip to Redwood National Park? Check out these posts!

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

About Redwood National & State Parks

Redwood National Park is located in far northern California, only miles from the Oregon border. It’s remote location makes it the perfect weekend getaway from major cities like San Francisco and Portland.

Unlike other national parks, Redwood National Park is actually part of a partnership with several California State Parks. Together, these parks make up Redwood National and State Parks. This joint park is a unique partnership between 3 California State Parks and 1 national park:

  • Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Redwood National Park

Together, these parks protect half of the world’s old-growth redwoods with nearly 40,000 acres of an old-growth redwood forest

Redwood National and State Parks have 5 visitor centers spread across the 4 parks. These are excellent places to learn more about the park and check in on trail conditions before your hike.

  • Hiouchi Visitor Center in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Jedediah Smith Visitor Center in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Crescent City Information Center in downtown Crescent City
  • Prairie Creek Visitor Center in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center in Redwood National Park

When most people refer to ‘Redwood National Park’, they are typically referring to the aggregated land protected across all 4 parks. In this guide, you’ll find the best hikes across all 4 parks.

Where to Stay Near Best Redwoods Hikes

Unlike other national parks, Redwood National and State Parks don’t have any lodges or hotels inside the park boundaries. To stay inside the park, you’ll need to stay at one of the park’s 4 campgrounds.

Eureka, California near Redwood National Park

Hotels & Cabins Near Redwood National Park

There are several gateway towns near the redwoods that provide hotel and motel accommodations. The best towns to stay in include Eureka, Klamath, and Crescent City. 

If you’re interested in staying in a hotel or cabin, I recommend picking from these options:

For more unique stays and cabins near the park, check out Airbnb, VRBO, or Hipcamp.

Campgrounds in Redwood National Park

There are 300 campsites spread across the 4 campgrounds inside the park. All have basic amenities like restrooms with showers, food lockers, and fire pits.

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

  • Jedediah Smith Campground
    • Park: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
    • Open: All year
  • Mill Creek Campground
    • Park: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
    • Open: May to September
  • Elk Prairie Campground
    • Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    • Open: All year
  • Gold Bluffs Beach Campground
    • Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    • Open: All year

All 4 of the park’s campgrounds are reservable through Reserve California. While reservations aren’t quite as competitive as other more popular national parks, they will still fill up months in advance in the summer.

Campground in Redwood National Park

Backpacking in Redwood National Park

There are 7 designated backcountry camping areas across the 4 parks, plus additional opportunities for dispersed camping. Visiting these campgrounds is a great way to escape crowds and have a trail all to yourself. 

Backcountry camping in Redwood National Park requires a free permit. These permits are issued online only. For information on backcountry permits in Redwood, read more here.

If you plan to request a backcountry permit, use Redwood’s Backcountry Trip Planner to select a trail and camping area ahead of time.

Getting to the Best Hikes Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park isn’t close to any major cities or airports. To get here, you’ll need to road trip or fly into the small, regional airports nearby.

If you’re traveling on a budget, I recommend flying into a major airport, renting a car, and driving to the park. Since the local airports are small with limited flights, they tend to be expensive to fly into.

I like to use Skyscanner to compare flight prices to multiple airports and find the best price. Once you find the perfect flight itinerary for you, Skyscanner redirects you to book with the airline directly so you don’t miss out on any frequent flyer points! Search flights on Skyscanner now.

Check for flights into these larger, international airports for the best price:

  • Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR) – 3-hour drive
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF) – 6-hour drive
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – 6-hour drive
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK) – 6-hour drive

You’ll need to rent a car regardless of the airport you fly into. I like to use Rentalcars.com to find the best deals on rental cars. It allows you to search across multiple rental companies to find the lowest price. You’ll find all the major retailers like Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise, plus budget companies like Budget, Sixt, Dollar, Thrifty, and more. Search rental car prices with Rentalcars.com now.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Visiting Redwood National Park in 2021

Entrance Fees for Redwood Hiking

Since Redwood National and State Parks are managed by the National Park Service and the California State Park service, the national and state parks have different entry fees.

It’s free to enter Redwood National Park! That’s right – the federally managed Redwood National Park doesn’t charge an entry fee and there are no entrance stations.

To enter the 3 California state parks (Del Norte, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek), you’ll need to pay the state park entry fee in some areas. These areas include:

  • Entering all developed campgrounds (Jedediah Smith, Mill Creek, Elk Prairie, Gold Bluffs Beach)
  • Driving to Gold Bluffs Beach or Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

If you have an America the Beautiful National Park Pass, you won’t be charged entry to the 3 redwood state parks. If you don’t already have a national park pass, I highly recommend one. This pass gets you into all 63 national parks, plus 300+ historic sites and national monuments! Get your national park pass here for only $80.

Redwood Tree

Best Time for Hiking Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is open all year with temperatures staying between 50 and 60 degrees year-round.

In the summer, rain is rare – typically only 2 to 5 days per month. Summer also brings low-hanging fog from the Pacific Ocean. This fog provides the redwoods with much-need moisture for growth. The rest of the year averages around 17 rainy days per month.

Redwood National Park gets most of its visitors between May and September during the dry season. That said, crowds never reach insanely high numbers like in other national parks. But if you prefer complete solitude, visit during the winter months – you’ll have many of the trails to yourself!

Tips for the Best Redwood National Park Hikes

  • Get the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This covers your entry to all 4 parks in Redwood National and State Parks. Plus, with the annual park pass, you’ll get entry to all 60+ national parks and 400+ monuments, historic sites, and more. Get your national park pass for only $80 here. 
  • Wear proper hiking boots. Hiking through a forest can mean uneven ground with tree roots. I recommend wearing either hiking boots (that protect the ankle) or trail shoes (lightweight, high-grip alternatives to boots).
  • Bring binoculars to spot wildlife. There’s plenty of wildlife to see from Redwood’s hiking trails. You have a high chance of seeing Roosevelt Elk when hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, so bring binoculars to get a closer look. I have this inexpensive pair of compact binoculars from Amazon.
  • Pack the 10 essentials. This is a short list of gear that could save your life if you get stranded outdoors overnight. I cover everything you need to know about the 10 essentials in my ultimate hiking gear guide.
  • There are no restaurants or shops inside the park. You’ll need to plan ahead and pack lunches and snacks to keep you going while exploring the parks. Just outside the parks in Trinidad, Orick, and Klamath, you’ll find both restaurants and lodging options.
  • Google Maps is known to be unreliable in this area. Instead, rely on the official park maps for navigating to and from trailheads if Google Maps seems to be sending you in a weird direction.
  • Always check road and trail conditions for heading out. Rain, fallen trees, and landslides are rapidly changing conditions in the park. Before you begin your hike, check trail conditions on the park website or with a ranger at any of the visitor centers. 
  • Follow the Leave No Trace Principles. These guidelines help us preserve the parks for generations to come and reduce the impact humans have on nature. You can read more about the Leave No Trace Principles in my Hiking for Beginners guide.
  • Pets aren’t allowed on hiking trails. Like most national parks, pets are not allowed on any park trails or on ranger-led programs. If you want to explore with your dog in Redwood, you can visit paved areas, campgrounds, and gravel roads. Read more about pets in Redwood National Park.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Visiting Redwood National Park in 2021

Best Easy Redwood National Park Hiking

If you’re short on time or looking for family-friendly, less challenging hikes, these are the trails for you! These short, easy trails take you through some of the park’s most popular redwood groves. 

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail

Lady Bird Johnson GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

This short 1.5-mile trail through a popular redwood grove is one of the most popular groves in the park. The redwoods found here are old-growth, many over 2,000 years old. As you hike, you’ll pass through forests of redwoods and other evergreen coniferous trees. 

The grove gets its name from the former first lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson, who dedicated Redwood National Park in 1968. Today, you’ll find educational signs are scattered along the trail, making this the perfect trail for the family to learn about the redwoods.

Fern Canyon Trail

Fern Canyon in Redwood National Park
  • Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 1.1 miles
  • Elevation: 118 feet
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Check out on AllTrails

Fern Canyon is, as you might expect, a 50-foot canyon covered in ancient, prehistoric-looking ferns. In fact, some of these ferns are part of an ancient species dating back 325 million years.

The trail is a short 1-mile loop that starts at the end of Davison Road past Gold Bluffs Beach. This easy hike winds along a creek bed through the canyon with spectacular views.

The drive to the trailhead is unpaved and can be difficult to traverse after a rainstorm. Check with park rangers at the visitor centers before attempting to drive Davison Road if you don’t have a high clearance vehicle. 

Stout Grove Trail

Stout GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park
  • Park: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Elevation: 32 feet
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Check out on AllTrails

Stout Grove is home to a 44-acre grove of old-growth redwood trees in the heart of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park along the Smith River. Since many of the trees here are hundreds if not thousands of years old, it’s not uncommon to see redwoods over 300 feet tall in this grove.

The Smith River that runs along the trail is a popular place for an afternoon picnic or quick dip in the water. 

Prairie Creek, Big Tree, and Cathedral Trees Loop

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park trail
  • Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Elevation: 209 feet
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Check out on AllTrails

This hike starts at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center and winds along the Cathedral Trail, passing popular attractions like Big Tree Wayside and Elk Prairie. This loop trail is a perfect introduction to the old-growth redwoods in this region. 

You’ll follow the trail along the popular scenic drive, Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, eventually crossing the road to reach Big Tree Wayside, one of the biggest trees in the area.

Keep your eyes peeled near the visitor center for the area’s famous Roosevelt elk!

Big Tree Wayside Trail

Big Tree Wayside Hike in Redwood National Park
  • Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 0.3 miles
  • Elevation: 19 feet
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Check out on AllTrails

This super short trail takes you to one of the biggest trees in Prairire Creek Redwoods State Park. From Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, you can take a short loop out to the “Big Tree”. 

Big Tree Wayside is a great trail for less active hikers and those who want a quick stop along a scenic drive. If you’re looking for a longer hike that includes Big Tree Wayside, consider the Prairie Creek loop above!

Best Moderate Redwood Forest Hiking

These moderate trails provide a decent workout and take you to some of the more hidden redwood groves in the park. You’ll find fewer crowds on these moderate, slightly longer trails than on the easy hikes.

Tall Trees Grove Trail

Tall Trees GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

This moderate trail is one of the best in Redwood National Park. It’s home to the world’s tallest tree, Hyperion, which stands at 379 feet tall. To put it in perspective, that’s taller than the Statue of Liberty and more than half the height of the Seattle Space Needle! 

The trail starts at the Tall Trees trailhead and descends to the forest floor, along Redwood Creek and amongst old-growth redwoods.

To limit the crowds, hikers are required to get a free permit in advance. Visitors can apply for the online permit here.

Trillium Falls Trail

Trillium FallsKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park has more than just redwoods – there’s also waterfalls! This trail to Trillium Falls is rated as moderate due to the elevation gain, but is short enough to make it achievable for most hikers. 

You’ll hike through an old-growth redwood forest to the 10-foot tall Trillium Falls. You’ll also find flowers, ferns, and fir trees. The trail to Trillium Falls also passes through an area that is home to the Roosevelt Elk herds that live in the park.

James Irvine Trail

James Irvine Trail in Redwood National Park
  • Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 10.4 miles
  • Elevation: 1,404 feet
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Check out on AllTrails

There aren’t many long distance day hikes in Redwood National Park. That’s why the James Irvine Trail is so popular! The trail starts and ends at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Take the James Irvine Trail on the way out and return on the Miner’s Ridge trail. 

You’ll cross creeks and pass through old-growth redwood groves as you hike out to Fern Canyon. This is the perfect trail for those that want to visit Fern Canyon, but either can’t drive Davison Road or want a longer, more challenging hike.

Boy Scout Tree Trail

Boy Scout Tree Trail in Redwood National Park
  • Park: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 5.3 miles
  • Elevation: 938 feet
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Check out on AllTrails

The Boy Scout Tree Trail is one of the more challenging, yet most scenic, hikes in the park. The 5+ mile round trip trail passes through groves of giant redwoods with forest floors covered in ferns.

The trail starts off the scenic dirt drive, Howland Hill Road in the northern area of the park. If you’re looking to make a day out of this area of the park, combine this hike with the Stout Grove Trail also located off Howland Hill Road.

Best Strenuous Redwood Forest Hike

There’s very few strenuous hikes in Redwood National Park, aside from the longer multi-day backpacking hikes. If you’re looking for a glute burner, don’t miss this hike!

Damnation Creek Trail

Damnation Creek in Redwood National Park
  • Park: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation: 1,190 feet
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Check out on AllTrails

Don’t let the distance of this hike fool you! While only a little over 3 miles, the strenuous elevation gain makes this hike a challenge. The trail winds along a tree-lined path out to the rocky coastline. 

This hike is particularly beautiful in Spring when the wildflowers are in bloom. The trail comes alive with brightly colored rhododendrons, standing out in contrast against the greenery of the forest floor.

Best Backpacking Trails in Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park has a few multi-day backcountry camping trails, perfect for exploring off-the-beaten path.

Redwood Creek Trail

Redwood Tree

The Redwood Creek Trail is the most popular backcountry trail in the park. While it could be completed as a day hike, most hikers choose to spend one night in the wilderness to spread out of the distance over two days.

The trail takes you along the Redwood Creek through old-growth redwood groves. At the end of the trail, the park collides with the Tall Trees Grove trail, home to the tallest tree in the world.

You’ll find no shortage of awesome views on this hike and the solitude will be unlike anything else in the park!

Coastal Trail

Coastal Trail in Redwood National Park
  • Park: Redwood National Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
  • Distance: 70 miles, but you can choose to hike only sections of the trail
  • Time: A few hours to a week, depending on distance hiked
  • Read more about this hike

The Coastal Trail is the premier long distance backpacking trail in Redwood National and State Parks. It runs for 70 miles along the coastline passing through 3 parks: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National Park. 

The trail starts at Crescent Beach Overlook in Del Norte Park and heads all the way south to Elk Meadow in Redwood National Park. Hikers can choose to hike the trail in its entirety or simply hike sections of the trail.

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

Other Things to Do in Redwood National Park

 There’s more to do in Redwood National Park than just hikes. If you have the time, don’t miss these additional activities! For more ideas on the best things to do in Redwood National Park, read this blog post.

Newton B. Drury Scenic ParkwayKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

Scenic Drives

There’s plenty of excellent scenic drives in Redwood National and State Parks, as well as the surrounding area. If you have some extra time, don’t miss these drives:

  • Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, a 10-mile scenic drive through the heart of the old-growth redwoods in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This drive is known for the massive Roosevelt Elk that can be seen along the way.
  • Avenue of the Giants, a famous 31-mile scenic drive in Humboldt Redwoods State Park a little over an hour south of Redwood National Park. Don’t miss exploring the Dyerville Giant and a short hike along the Founder Grove Loop trail.
Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree near Redwood National Park

Drive Thru Trees

You won’t find any drive-thru trees in the national or state parks as it can be damaging to the redwood trees. If you want this photo opportunity, you’ll need to seek out a drive-thru on private land. There’s a few different options in the area:

  • Shrine Tree near Humboldt Redwood State Park
  • Klamath Tree in Klamath near Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Chandelier Tree in Leggett where Highway 1 and Highway 101 meet
Roosevelt Elk grazing Klamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

Wildlife

Redwood National Park has plenty of different wildlife, from the forests to the ocean. Here are some of the best animals to see on your trip:

  • Roosevelt Elk, a massive species of the deer family often over 1,000 pounds. The best place to spot the elk are Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive, Gold Bluffs Beach, and Ball Hills Road. 
  • Whale Watching, a popular winter and spring activity from ocean overlooks. Some of the best viewpoints for whale watching include Klamath River Overlook, Crescent Beach Overlook, High Bluff Overlook, and Gold Bluffs Beach.

Read More: 25 Amazing Things to Do in Redwood National Park

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Trails in Redwood National Park

How many days do you need in Redwood National Park?

To see the best of Redwood National Park, plan to spend about 2 to 3 days in the park. This gives you enough time to explore the best hikes, scenic drives, and wildlife in the redwoods.

Is Redwood National Park worth visiting?

Redwood National Park is definitely worth visiting. The park is home to some of the last remaining old-growth redwood forest in the world. Here you can hike amongst trees that are over 300 feet tall and 2,000 years old!

What is the best time of year to visit the redwood forest?

The best time of year to visit the redwoods is from June to September. While temperatures are warm most of the year, summer is the dry season. To avoid crowds, consider visiting in the winter instead.

Final Thoughts on the Best Hike Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is a must-visit for those that love hiking in forests. The lush greenery, giant redwoods, and coastal views make these hikes enjoyable. 

These are the 12 best hikes in Redwood National Park:

  1. Lady Bird Johnson Grove
  2. Fern Canyon
  3. Stout Grove
  4. Prairie Creek, Big Tree, and Cathedral Tree Loop
  5. Big Tree Wayside
  6. Tall Trees Grove
  7. Trillium Falls
  8. James Irvine
  9. Boy Scout Tree
  10. Damnation Creek
  11. Redwood Creek
  12. Coastal Trail

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

Looking for more ideas for your trip to Redwood National Park? Check out these posts!

Want to share your thoughts, tips, and advice with me and other readers? Have questions about your trip? Head down to the comments section below!

This post may include some affiliate links, where I earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase, all at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or brands that I use. Any income helps me continue sharing national park tips and itineraries for free.

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