Named after the little-known but hugely influential German naturalist and scientist Alexander von Humboldt, Humboldt County embraces California's rural, mountainous North Coast. Host to outstanding coastal and forest habitats — including Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the largest area of ancient redwoods remaining on planet earth — Humboldt is a paradise of hiking destinations. From an escapade into the iconic Fern Canyon to a short jaunt on Trinidad Head, find a trail that captures your imagination.
1. Ossagon Trail
3.6 miles, Moderate
What better reward at the end of a brightly forested trail than a quiet beach anchored by lofty rock formations? Visitors to the Ossagon Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park will pass through diverse woodlands, including old-growth redwoods, spruce and alder grove, before reaching a grassy transition to the sea. Take in the ocean breeze at the imposing Ossagon Rocks before making your return through this remarkably serene State Park. Visit here for more information.
2. Cathedral Trees Trail
1.4 miles, Easy to Moderate
Is seeing a mesmerizing Cathedral Tree up-close and in-person on your bucket list? Then this hike is for you. Good for all skill levels, this trail offers the chance to meet the unusual formations of tree families that make up a Cathedral Tree. Relatively flat, shaded and quiet, the Cathedral Trees Trail offers rare accessibility to a remarkable grove of these unique life forms. Visit here for more information.
3. Hammond Coastal Trail
5.5 miles, Easy to Moderate
Originally built along a lumber railroad from the early 1900s, this exceptionally level portion of the California Coastal Trail is perfect for casual hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Start with scenic river views near Mad River pedestrian bridge in the Arcata Bottoms, and follow this former railroad property to Widow White Creek in nearby McKinleyville. Continue north along ocean bluffs to an ultimate destination of Clam Beach for a unbeatable view of the iconic promontory Trinidad Head. Visit here for more information.
4. James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon
4.2 miles, Moderate
Fern Canyon is one of the most extraordinary natural encounters in California. Walls of cascading ferns and moss envelop this slim canyon, enthralling your senses at every curve (Steven Spielberg used this location in his film, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park"). Add in a remarkable hike on the James Irvine Trail through the the Douglas fir, western hemlock and ancient redwood realms of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and you have an adventure that you won't soon forget. Visit here for more information.
5. Trillium Falls Loop Trail
2.5 miles, Moderate
Named for the elegant residence of the North Coast wildflower trillium (which can live up to 25 years!), this trail passes through old-growth redwoods and features a waterfall rollicking over boulders and adorning ferns. Admire the falls from a nearby steel bridge over the creek, and continue through the tranquility of riparian woodlands before looping back around for a longer stint at the enchanting falls before you leave. Keep your eyes peeled for the local elk herd of Prairie Creek! Visit here for more information.
Trinidad Head Loop
1.5 miles, Easy
The draw-dropping scenery of this trail makes up for its brevity. Notice the stone cross on this promontory that commemorates a wooden one that Spanish colonizers erected in this spot in 1775. There are no bad views here; vantage points offer you views of marine life and the Trinidad Lighthouse. And keep your eyes down around your feet as well, you won't want to miss scurrying rabbits and blooms of blue lupin and seaside daisy. Visit here for more information.
Top Image: Trillium Falls Trail flora, Redwood NP | Redwood National and State Parks/Flickr/CreativeCommons