Tuesday, September 30, 2008

South Fork, Rhododendron and Brown Creek Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Little did we know that Redwood National Park is actually made up of national park areas connected by several California state parks. In Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park we did a three mile loop hike that included the South Fork, Rhododendron and Brown Creek Trails. We started by following the South Fork trail. This trail takes you up many switch-backs through groves of giant redwoods. Once on top of the ridge we took the Rhododendron trail which provided beautiful views down into old growth redwoods and then connected to the Brown Creek Trail. This trail heads back down into the valley and follows Brown Creek most the way back to the road and trailhead. This trail provides views of dense stream side vegetation as well as fantastic views of mature redwoods.

At several places on these trails, we had to scramble under and around huge trees that had fallen across the trail. These trees are literally too big to cut and clear so new routes had to be forged. This made the hiking that much more interesting and gave us more of an appreciation of the size of these incredible trees. During this hike we stopped several times and each time commented on how serene the forest seemed. Another observation that we had was when we would look out into the forest we would scan from top to bottom and notice how the tree tops covered the sky with the forest floor being carpeted with thick vegetation and ferns. It seemed between these two plains, the huge mostly bare trunks were there to keep these two worlds separated. We never experienced a forest with this grand of separation.

If you want a hike on the short and less strenuous side, but want to get up close and personal with a beautiful redwood forest then we recommend this loop hike.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Howdy,
You're in the Redwoods! This is probably a great time of year to be there. During my sister's time in Eureka, we came through there several times, camping a few at Redwood State Park. I remember the silence of the forest -- the trees just soak up sound and the ground is muffled by their duff. I also remember it was always rainy and foggy, but we were generally going there in the winter for long weekends.

There was a really good article a few years back in the New Yorker about the completely different ecosystem that exists at the top of the canopy. I found at least a part of it on line for you here:

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-18846401_ITM

(For one of your reading days)

I also always remember Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. In case you haven't read it, he travels across the country in a camper truck with his dog Charlie. His description of Charlie encountering the redwoods is fun -- he lifts his leg to pee on one and then looks up and up and up...

You mentioned stopping by Yosemite Valley later in the fall. Jeff's sister and husband just came through there last week and it turns out it is THE outdoor school location for the Bay Area. She said it wasn't too bad -- kids weren't everywhere and were contained in manageable groups. The falls were dry but they may be flowing again by the time you get there when the fall rains start.

Talk to you later,
Karen

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