You can't get further north in California than Del Norte County. Wedged between the jagged Pacific and the Oregon border, this northwestern territory is home to one of the longest rivers in the state, the Klamath River, and crisp groves of coast redwoods. From historic trails that pass through secluded forests to loops that offer vistas of remarkable sea stacks, Del Norte County is a vital destination for hikers seeking an increasingly rare slice of California.
Damnation Creek Trail
2.2 miles, Difficult
One of the most sought-after "Redwoods-to-the-Sea" trails in Northern California, Damnation Creek delivers on every count. This trail in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park begins among a stately crowd of 300-foot tall primeval redwoods, often enveloped by a local summer marine layer. Spy the forest floor's bushy resident ferns and purple rhododendron blossoms (and maybe a banana slug!) as you meander through immaculate ash white tree trunks holding firm to the hillside. Unfortunately, a closure before the descent to the ocean restricts you to only part of the trail, but even just a portion of this path — permeated by the seductive scent of sea salt and wood — is well worth the time. Visit here for more information.
1 mile loop, Easy
A popular trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the Simpson-Reed Trail is saturated with strikingly-dense greenery draped in every direction. The circular route runs along the Smith River, adorned by a lattice-work of 1,000 year-old redwoods and fallen trees that continue to support life for the area's red-legged frogs and rough-skinned newts. Although brief, visitors can spend hours bathing in the punctured light of these other-worldly forest canopies. Visit here for more information.
Hobbs Wall Trail
3.75 miles, Moderate
For decades, industry giant Hobbs, Wall & Co. had massive land and timber holdings in Del Norte County. The historic Hobbs Wall Trail pays homage to the timber titan, although today the trees are well-protected in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. This trek will have you diving into a forested ravine where you will encounter a grove of old-growth redwoods, followed by a verdant hillside of second-growth redwoods. It's a fairly solitary trail — perfect for those who seek the gripping silence of a riparian woodland. Visit here for more information.
Yurok Loop Trail
1 mile loop, Easy
A very accessible stop along Highway 101 (known here as Redwood Highway), Yurok Loop is named for an indigenous Yurok village that was once located nearby. The trail offers excellent views of sea stacks in False Kamath Cove within the first quarter-mile. Keep following this circular path to admire wild cucumber, Sitka spruce, and strands of elegant cow parsnip. A short outing and suitable for children and leashed dogs. Visit here for more information.
Trestle Loop Trail
1 mile loop, Moderate
Named for the defunct Hobbs-Wall Railroad trestle, this scenic loop along Mill Creek was once the sight of rumbling lumber trains. Explore the trestle relics that survive in this mixed woodland, including second-growth redwoods and maple. To sweeten the deal, you can collect berries as you meander the trail — just know that park service limits one gallon per person per day. Visit here for more information.