An 8:30 AM departure from Kerr Manor was the beginning of our amazing adventure to the coast for some of the best hiking I have experienced in recent months. The planned hikes included one repeat in Southern Oregon and two new unexplored hikes in Northern California.
Two vehicles of 4 people each departed the Kerr Manor with plans to meet up with George and Liz Landreth at the Whales Head Trail head. The best of intentions to caravan unraveled immediately, but amazingly we all arrived at the Trail head within 5 minutes of each other.
Since it was noon time, the decision was made to eat lunch prior to beginning our hike. After a casual lunch, 10 hikers began the ascent up the trail into the beautiful coastal forest.
We followed the Whales Head Beach trail to the Indian Sands Trail intercept, went left to Indian Sands where we chose to sit on the overlook and enjoy the magnificence of the Oregon Coast cliffs and the Pacific. We then completed the loop, picked up the Whales Head Beach trail and returned to our vehicles at the trail head. GAIA Stats: 3.5 miles, Ascent 1,434 feet.
We loaded up and began our drive to our lodging destination in Crescent City, CA. A short time later we arrived at the Curly Redwood Lodge where we checked in, cleaned up and prepared for the night’s festivities at the Good Harvest Café.
The Good Harvest Café, in typical fashion, did not disappoint. An evening of frivolity, dining and drinking was what the doctor ordered after a glorious afternoon on the trail.
The day began with some of us meeting for breakfast at the Fisherman’s Restaurant across the street from the Lodge. After breakfast, 9 hikers reconnoitered at the appointed time and drove to the Big Tree Wayside Trail head in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park located approximately 34 miles south of Crescent City.
This hike is perhaps the most surreal I have ever experienced. We hiked through a forest of towering old growth Redwoods on undulating hillsides and valleys carpeted with ferns and a sundry of vegetation in early bloom. The sheer beauty of it all is permanently emblazed in my mind.
This hike being new, on un-scouted trails, at the beginning of the season after a formidable winter, presented us with some challenges. All of which were conquered with enthusiasm.
We began the hike by visiting the “Big Tree” which is touted to be at least 1,500 years old, 290 feet tall with a circumference of 75 feet. Impressive indeed.
From the “Big Tree” we took the Circle Trail to the Cathedral Trees Trail, turned right and went south to the Rhododendron Trail, went left on the Rhododendron Trail up to the South Fork Trail, left again to the Brown Creek Trail, left on the Foothill Trail back to the “Big Tree”, then a short distance to the parking lot. Total distance was about 7 miles with an ascent of approximately 2,000 feet.
The route included a lot of up and down, with some sustained climbs and switchbacks along the mountain sides. The Rhododendron trail showed more signs of elk travel than pedestrian, and was narrow and muddy in areas. The beauty of the forest however, over shadowed everything. The Rhododendron trail also passes through (literally), a number of massive redwood stumps which appear to have been the remains of lightning strikes.
The most technically challenging portion of the hike was on the South Fork Trail where we encountered a great deal of dead fall and slash on a steep descending trail. Once having successfully navigated this trail and returning to a reasonably clean trail, someone, whose name will not be mentioned, commented on how nice it was to be on a trail clear of debris, jinxing us with a fallen redwood tree lying across the trail. Fortunately we were not the first to cross so in spite of the size, it was manageable.
We returned to Crescent city for another night of festivities at the Good Harvest Café, where we lifted our glasses to toast John Kerr for making all this possible; to toast the entire group for working together to overcome obstacles, making this a safe and unforgettable hike; and a special toast to honor Peggy Newman who continues to impress us all with her hiking abilities at age 90.
The final day of Hiking was on the Last Chance Section of the Coastal Trail. The trail head is 3.9 miles south of the Curly Redwood Lodge at the end of the Enderts Beach Road.
This hike was another new un-scouted trail. Until recently this trail was closed due to the front end cliffs collapsing and sliding into the Ocean. The planned route was “in and out” to accommodate tired legs from the previous two days of hiking.
The first half mile is moderately downhill, then the trail steeply ascends close to 1,000 feet over the next mile. The trail summits 1.9 miles from the trail head at 1,100 feet. Three of the seven starters went over the top and down to a point one half mile south of the summit before returning. GAIA Stats: 4.8 miles, 1,508 foot ascent.
We ended the trip with wine and cheese at the Kerr Manor, exuberantly discussing our Coastal Hike experiences with John and Diane.