Virtual Guidebook to the Redwood National and State Parks
Irvine Trail at Prairie Creek
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park California


In my opinion this is the best day hike in California. It is only four miles long, so you can hike it both ways in a day, or arrange a shuttle and spend more time on it. It is much the same any time of year, cool and frequently foggy in summer, colder and quite wet in winter, but the magnificent trees and ferns change very little.

The Irvine Trail starts just behind the park headquarters building at Elk Prairie and immediately crosses the creek on a bridge. Then it loops around through staggeringly large old growth redwoods, many of them in family circles around charred stumps. The new alignment of the trail then contours up the slope, giving a different perspective on the forest. As it proceeds west it returns to the floor of the shallow valley and eventually reaches a low divide. From here it descends steadily, following unseen Fern Creek, until it reaches Fern Canyon and Gold Bluffs Beach. Observant hikers will notice that redwoods become scarcer in the western half, replaced by red cedar and hemlock, and that the trees flanking Fern Canyon are Sitka spruce.



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The trail system that starts at the visitor center begins with a bridge over Prairie Creek

(June 25, 2010)


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Many extremely large redwoods are found along the first mile of the James Irvine Trail

(June 25, 2010)


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The Irvine Trail climbs across a heavily forested slope before returning to the bottomlands

(June 25, 2010)


Next Locality: East of Prairie Creek