Backpack Redwood National and State Parks

Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center

This backpacking trip allows you to explore some of the tallest trees in the world, get amazing starlit view, and potentially run into Sasquatch...he's out there, somewhere.

Day 1: Check with the Rangers station before heading up for best camping opportunities. Assuming you've checked with the rangers for approval...if there are openings, off of the main road, there are side streets with access to the beaches. Pull into one of these areas and drive down as far as you can – this may involve squeezing your car through spaces between boulders. If you find such a spot, congratulations! Camp where the river meets with the ocean, and you will be a light, 10-15 minute walk from camp. If this isn't feasible, as Joshua notes in the review, there is plenty of dispersed camping available along the route to Tall Trees Grove. Either way, bring water with you.

Day 2: Head for Tall Trees Grove in the ancient forest (1.4 miles, 800-1,000 ft descent). First stop at the Thomas H. Kuchel visitors' center to obtain a permit and a gate code to access the dirt road. The road to the Tall Trees Trailhead is narrow and unpaved, and takes roughly 45 minutes. The small parking lot does not accommodate RVs or trailers, and there are bathrooms at the trailhead.

The loop to the groves is 0.5 miles long, but can consume a couple hours...easily. Stop to look around in amazement, go for a creek swim – take your time.

If you are camping overnight on the gravel bars on Redwood Creek, you will be required to walk 15 minutes (half mile) down the creek to camp off-site. This is a great place for night photography, since you are far away from strong light pollution.

Day 3: Start out by wading up Redwood Creek – water shoes are recommended. After 1.7 of admiring the creek, you will come to Emerald Ridge Trailhead. The trailhead is not very noticeable, but you will eventually see the sign to your left.

There are many campsites set up along the creek where you can spend the night. If you have time to spend, set up camp then continue further up the creek, then float all the way back down to camp. This is nature's best lazy river, and a hell of a way to see the redwoods. You can also hike Emerald Ridge Trail to view some more redwoods, then head back to camp for the night.

Day 4: Hike 0.9 miles on the Emerald Ridge Trail back to the parking lot, and say goodbye to the redwoods.

Please help protect these areas and practice Leave No Trace ethics. Put out and cover fires, help pick up trash, and make it look like you were never there. Poop 200-300 feet away from water and bury it. If we all do our part to make it better than when we arrived, it will be a better place down the road for the next crew!

Key Coordinates:

  • The Redwood Creek: 41.2992260, -124.0337130
  • Tall Trees Grove: 41.2081300, -123.9930940
  • Beach Camping Area: 41.174714, -124.102471

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Hiking clothes
  • Hiking boots
  • Flip flops/water shoes
  • Food
  • Water (UV, pump, iodine, whatever floats your boat)
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Batteries
  • Hat
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
Show More
RT Distance 6 Miles
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Surfing, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Adult Beverages
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole


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Overall rating: 

Fern Canyon

Fern canyon is always an amazing hike! And easy enough for the kids. Tons of opportunities to explore off the path and not get lost.


When I was on a year long journey through the National Parks, I was in the Redwoods National Park when the Government shut down. At first I was rather distraught though soon realized that the closure couldn't have happened at a better park. The State park system was independent from the National Parks system. Voila! Redwood State Park was open for business. Roosevelt Elk, Banana Slugs, enormous trees, and of course Fern Canyon! Nothing was lost!


In my own travels I don't think I've been to a place that has struck me the way the Redwoods always do. It's hard to comprehend how massive they are until you find yourself up against one. The surrounding environment is also usually very green with ferns and other plant life that make you feel like you're in a rainforest. These parks are truly special. And from the looks of it if you can get Austin to be your photographer you'll leave home with an even better experience.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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