California Driving Trip of the Redwoods - Avenue of the Giants and Redwood National and State Park

Pat Driving Through Chandelier Tree   with Our Toyota Venza - Leggett, California
Pat Driving Through Chandelier Tree
with Our Toyota Venza - Leggett, California
California Driving Trip of the Redwoods - Avenue of the Giants and Redwood National and State Park (10/4-7/2012) – The California Redwoods are truly one of the wonders of the world - one of our favorite places in the world and one you should definitely visit.
Pat with Toyota Venza   - Avenue of the Giants, California toyota venza
Pat with Toyota Venza
- Avenue of the Giants, California


We drove California’s beautiful Redwood Country on Highway 101 and Highway 1 in our Toyota Venza. We present the highlights of our trip offering great trip planning tips for you.

It is a sincere joy to enjoy the beauty and solitude of the magnificent coastal redwoods in northern California’s Humboldt County. The majestic redwoods are unlike any other forest in the world. Many of the trees are 2000-3000 years old growing to be the tallest living things on earth raising to heights of 350+ feet that would tower over the Statue of Liberty in New York. Wonderful forest scents with ferns covering the ground and fallen logs make the scenic drives and hiking trails a wonderland for everyone.

Mahan Plaque Loop Trail - Avenue of the Giants, California
Mahan Plaque Loop Trail 
- Avenue of the Giants, California
Large old growth (never logged) redwood forests are located in northern California in the Avenue of the Giants and Humboldt Redwoods State Park and further north in the Redwood National and State Park. For lovers of nature and outdoor recreation, there is fishing, kayaking, biking, rafting, backpacking, birding, and more. Visitors can also discover an area rich in history. Picturesque farming towns and fishing villages have changed little over the years providing quant inns as well as budget hotels, good restaurants, wine and craft beer experiences, and local festivals and entertainment.

Driving the Avenue of the Giants
Driving the Avenue of the Giants
The splendid scenic Avenue of the Giants and Humboldt Redwoods State Park is California's largest redwood state park with 17,000 acres of ancient old-growth coastal redwoods. Many of the redwood trees here are thousands of years old and have never been logged. The 31-mile Avenue of the Giants is a must drive. It is located just off Highway 101 north of Garberville. It is so wonderful; we drove 5 times when exploring the area (see photo).
Cabin in the Redwoods - Miranda Garden Resort
Cabin in the Redwoods 
- Miranda Garden Resort
Miranda Cafe - Miranda, Avenue of the Giants, California
Miranda Cafe - Miranda, 
Avenue of the Giants, California
On the Avenue of the Giants, we stayed in a cabin surrounded by redwood trees at the Miranda Garden Resort (see photo) and had dinner at Miranda Café (see photos). Miranda is one of those towns that if you blink you may miss it. If you want to sound like a local, ask for the “Ave” pizza – it’s really good. A homecoming football game and 50th reunion of Class 1961 happened the night we were there – too bad for the home team because at half time it was 3-30. It was fun to attend a small town high school football game. There are campgrounds available on the Avenue of the Giants. We also stayed in Garberville, the largest town in the area.
Wayne & Pat at Giant Tree   - Rockefeller Forest,   Avenue of the Giants, California
Wayne & Pat at Giant Tree
- Rockefeller Forest,
Avenue of the Giants, California
Along the Avenue of the Giants, you can stop and explore the small towns and take easy or longer hikes. One of the best places to take a hike is the Humboldt Redwoods State Park’s Rockefeller Forest, home of the Rockefeller Tree, a 362' tall and 13-½ foot-wide giant redwood. In the Rockefeller Forest, one of the best hikes is the Bull Creek Flats trail (see photo). On the short loop, you will walk past half of the top 10 tallest trees in the world. (Directions: on the Avenue of the Giants just north of the Founder’s Grove, turn left at the Honeydew sign and go 1.25 miles. Watch for the “Bull Creek Flats” sign on the left. Park in parking lot below and see the sign for the Bull Creek Flats trail.) The Bull Creek Flats trail has a wonderful less than a mile loop or you can take a longer trail. Continue on same road for another mile to Giant Tree – 53 feet circumference (see photo).

Wayne Driving Through Chandelier Tree   - Myer Flats, Avenue of the Giants toyota venza
Wayne Driving Through 
Chandelier Tree- Myer Flats, 
Avenue of the Giants

Also along the Avenue of the Giants, the Founder’s Grove is beautiful and an easy hike. Here you will find the Dyersville Giant, a fallen 370-foot redwood tree. The Mahan Plaque Loop Trail also makes for another easy and beautiful hike (see photo). We drove through both of the last remaining drive-through redwood trees, the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree in Myer Flats and the Chandelier Tree near Leggett – great fun (see photos).

Revelation Trail in Prairie Creek   - Redwood National and State Park
Revelation Trail in Prairie Creek
- Redwood National and State Park
Wayne with Huge Redwood Tree   - Redwood National and State Park, California
Wayne with Huge Redwood Tree
- Redwood National and State Park, California
Further north, the Redwood National and State Park accounts for 45% of all the old-growth redwood forest remaining in California and is home to three of the four tallest trees in the world and to the world’s tallest living thing, a redwood tree (379 feet). We choose one of the best places to take a hike. The short Revelation Trail in Prairie Creek is absolutely spectacular (see photo). It is located in the Tall Trees Grove, a beautiful old growth redwood forest near the small town of Orick and home of three of the four tallest trees in the world. You can hike to Tall Tree that was the tallest in the world (367.8 feet) until the top got blew off in 1989.

There are many other wonderful easy and more difficult hikes in the Redwood National and State Park. Make sure you drive the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway alternative to Highway 101 - it is beautiful. The Kuchel Visitor Center just south of Orick is a great place to stop and get advice on the best hikes, etc. for your party. They have a very good film about the redwoods.
Wayne at Fern Canyon   - Redwood National and State Park, California
Wayne at Fern Canyon 
- Redwood National and State Park, California
While at the Redwood National and State Park, do not miss Fern Canyon, an unforgettable natural wonder that Steven Spielberg chose as a location for the movie Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World. Imagine walking through a narrow canyon where the walls are completely covered by lush ferns and mosses dripping with moisture (see photo). This easy trail of about one mile follows Home Creek. This modest stream has carved a deep (50 to 80 feet) canyon through the sedimentary soils. The vertical walls sprout an amazing variety of ferns (five different kinds) and other moisture-loving plants and mosses.

Fern Canyon was formed millions of years ago by a retreating sea that left the steep canyon walls now covered by 10 different fern species. Fern Canyon was also used in the movie Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

During summer months, footbridges are installed over the creek in Fern Canyon to make this trail easier (and dryer). We went in early October without the footbridges. We got our shoes wet but totally worth it. (Directions to Fern Canyon: From Highway 101, drive about 2 miles north of Orick to Davison Road and turn left. Follow through Elk Meadow and onto dirt road. Follow this scenic drive for 6 miles until you reach Gold Bluffs Beach (motorhomes and trailers are not allowed on this road). Once at the coast, follow the road north along the beach for another 3 miles (fording through several small streams - do-able by car) until the parking lot at the end. The trailhead to Fern Canyon is about 1/4 mile from the actual start of the canyon.)
Herd of Roosevelt Elk   - Redwood National and State Park, California
Herd of Roosevelt Elk
- Redwood National and State Park, California
Large Bull Roosevelt Elk - Gold Bluffs Beach, California
Large Bull Roosevelt Elk 
- Gold Bluffs Beach, California
From the parking lot at Fern Canyon, you can easily walk to Gold Bluffs Beach. It is unique because a herd of Roosevelt elk, one of the largest members of the deer family, makes its home here. We saw a large bull and Wayne creep close (see photos). These are wild animals so do keep your distance when you spot them. Roosevelt elk are a major conservation success story. Hunted nearly to extinction, there were only a few hundred animals left when conservation efforts began. Now the elk number in the thousands and they are being reintroduced to many areas of their original range. 

The towns of Klamath and Orick near the Redwood National and State Park are very small, so we choose to stay at the Historic Regua Inn north of Klamath with a view of Klamath River. It is a quant historical B&B built in 1914 run by a local native Indian family. The cozy rooms feature claw bathtubs and it has a nice central room to meet people. They offer a wonderful 4-course gourmet dinner that you should not miss.

Some background on Redwood trees... Redwood trees are named for the color of their wood and bark. The high tannin content of the world makes it resistant to insects and disease. The bark is thick and spongy making the trees resistant to fire that has allowed them to live 2,000 (some longer) years.

We would like to express our gratitude to Toyota for lending us a new Venza car for this trip. The Toyota Venza is a very comfortable cruising car with many nice features – great for having an adventure! It made our trip more enjoyable. We liked this car very much and now miss it after our trip. You should check out the Toyota Venza.

Please see our other 11 blog posts on beautiful California:





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1 comment:

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