The Woods and the Coast

north redwoods  001north redwoods  003north redwoods  013We headed directly up the coast of California with plans continue north; to stop in Oregon, in Washington and then to cross the border by ferry to Vancouver Island, British Columbia and cross by ferry again to mainland Canada.

But first, we stopped at another National Park. Redwood National and State Parks are actually four parks, one National and three State Parks, managed cooperatively. These parks “protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly forty miles of pristine coastline, including the majestic coast redwoods”.

north redwoods  043Coast redwoods are related to the giant sequoias that we visited earlier in the spring but they only grow in a narrow strip along the Pacific coast of California and southwestern Oregon. Although the giant sequoias’ trunks are wider, the coast redwoods can grow much taller, to nearly 380 feet. In fact, somewhere in these parks stands the world’s tallest tree, a coast redwood.

Our drive from Noyo Harbor was long, California is just so darn long! But not as challenging as our last drive, and part of the way was through coast redwood forests.

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One of the very cool things about visiting the coast redwoods is that you get to enjoy the woods and the coast. Our campground was in Crescent City, just outside one of the entrances to the parks and home to several beautiful beaches.north redwoods  063

north redwoods  064north redwoods  007north redwoods  009Crescent City is also home to the Battery Point Lighthouse, a picturesque little lighthouse on a tiny islet. It’s only possible to visit the lighthouse when low tides expose a two hundred foot isthmus between the mainland and the island (unless you have a boat of course). So we never made it to the lighthouse, but enjoyed quite a few nice views of it.north redwoods  010north redwoods  008

north redwoods  066And the northern coast of California is spectacular. Lots of cliffs jutting out into the sea with huge rocks out in the water.

We visited the national park’s visitor center to get the scoop on the hiking and other opportunities. Since there are a total of four parks there are tons of trails and drives available throughout.north redwoods  058

north redwoods  021The handsome ranger, whom I decided to call Clark Kent, gave us tons of recommendations. And he mentioned that there was a pod of whales feeding where the Klamath River empties into the Pacific, part of the national park.north redwoods  022north redwoods  015

Whale lovers that we are, we drove out to the overlook to check it out. And we found a short but steep trail down to a lower overlook.

There was indeed a pod of whales, mommas with calves swimming around.

north redwoods  016north redwoods  018We spotted the spouts and then the backs of the whales going over the water. Apparently, some whales stay here awhile before continuing on their northern migration, and others stay put until they migrate south for the winter.north redwoods  017

north redwoods  034During our hike we also spotted an osprey fishing and some seals. And the view of the beach and the lagoon formed by the confluence of the river and the ocean was fabulous.north redwoods  035north redwoods  028north redwoods  020

north redwoods  036We also went on a couple of forest drives and hikes. We drove through the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. There we spotted some Roosevelt Elk, the largest of the North American elk, found only in the Pacific Northwest.north redwoods  037

north redwoods  041north redwoods  044We hiked the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail in the National Park, a beautiful and easy hike that documents the history of the park and honors Lady Bird’s (First Lady to President Lyndon B. Johnson) campaign to preserve America’s natural beauty.north redwoods  047north redwoods  043north redwoods  071

north redwoods  046north redwoods  045north redwoods  039north redwoods  050north redwoods  048north redwoods  049Driving back we spotted a bear cub munching on grass by the side of the road. He looked to be an adolescent and very cute.north redwoods  070

And since we could choose to walk on the beach or in the forest according to our mood, we continued to find beautiful beaches.  They all had lots of driftwood, remnants of the age when logging was king.north redwoods  004

north redwoods  005Across from Crescent City is Castle Rock, a giant rock in the ocean.  It is an imposing rock with lots of sea lions on and around it.

north redwoods  053We enjoyed walking on the beaches of Crescent City. Although the weather was a bit unpredictable, with crazy winds popping up every now and then.north redwoods  055

north redwoods  060north redwoods  057north redwoods  056north redwoods  052north redwoods  054north redwoods  074north redwoods  068Back in the forest, we walked on a dog-friendly back road in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park by a river. And encountered many beautiful spring flowers.north redwoods  076north redwoods  075north redwoods  069north redwoods  077

north redwoods  079We also hiked on the Yurok Loop Trail starting in Lagoon Creek in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, which connected to the Hidden Beach Trail.  The trail led to a quarter mile long beach below some cliffs with lots more driftwood and great rocks in the water.north redwoods  080north redwoods  083

north redwoods  082On this trail, we spotted the most unique wildlife yet, a banana slug! These are the second-largest species of terrestial slugs in the world, and are only found from Southeastern Alaska to Santa Cruz, California.  Many people mistake them for banana peels.north redwoods  081north redwoods  085north redwoods  084

north redwoods  031

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon – flying fast

We returned to the overlook on Klamath River to see more whales. And as we arrived, there was a Peregrine Falcon flying around.  Hector snapped a couple of shots.

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north redwoods  032 We met another photographer, Alan Justice, who had a scope and was sharing information about the whales with tourists.  He was also letting folks peek through his scope to get a close-up view of the whales.  Another wildlife lover for sure.north redwoods  019

north redwoods  087On our last day in the area, we stopped at what seemed to us to be a tourist trap, Trees of Mystery, described as “California’s premier nature attraction on the North coast”.   Giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox welcome the public.

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This area is the suspected habitat of the very hard to spot and mysterious Bigfoot.

north redwoods  089The attractions include a gondola ride through a redwood forest, a walking trail, the largest milled redwood carvings in the world, and the cathedral tree, a grouping of nine trees growing out of a single root in a semicircle that is the site of Easter services and weddings.

We found out that the gondola allowed dogs, if we’d known that in advance we’d definitely have signed up, but they were already closing.north redwoods  088

But attached to the gift shop we discovered their End of The Trail Museum, “one of the largest privately owned world class museums for Indian artifacts”.

The impressive collection has been assembled over a period of about 40 years by Marylee Thompson, owner of the Trees of Mystery.  It includes baby carriers, weapons, tools, pipes, pottery, jewelry, instruments, dolls, photos and more from tribes from throughout North America.north redwoods  090

north redwoods  067We were very pleasantly surprised by the museum collection.  And the museum is free “as a gift to the touring public, supported entirely by profits from the Trees of Mystery”.  Never judge a book by its cover.

We were sad to leave fantastic California after having spent four wonderful months there.  Next north to Oregon!

~ Brenda

20 thoughts on “The Woods and the Coast

  1. Ha! We have the same Big Foot side by side with Dennis…. nice beard by the way, Hector! You’re really soaking up your surroundings I see.
    I’m a sucker for the redwood area and Northern California / Oregon coast. I’m not sure if you’ve passed it already but, Nina and Paul (Wheelingit) are at a lighthouse on the Southern Oregon Coast… hopfully you guys can cross paths!
    Cheers and drive safe on that road! As always, beautiful capture on these spots. It’s awesome ‘revisiting’ some of my favorite places via your photos.

    • 🙂 I like the beard too! Yes, we met Nina and Paul last night, still behind on the blog. We’re headed to Columbia River Gorge next. Excited! Are you headed north at all?

  2. Your eye to shoot is amazing, Hector. And Brenda, your narratives are captivating and informative. Thanks, again, for keeping us with you. Godspeed and xo

  3. Beautiful northern California, that is why I still love northern California! We’ve driven through there several times but never stopped at Crescent City. So nice that you got to explore this area. I will leave it to you guys when it comes to whale sightings, for I have never seen whales while we cruised through there.
    Thank you for showing us that part of CA and can’t wait where in Oregon you are exploring.

    • Crescent City actually got a bad rap in one of our travel books (yes, we still get those), which I thought was very harsh. Of course we covered a lot of ground while here. The whales are following us 🙂 We have enjoyed California so much and are enjoying Oregon. Such a beautiful country.

    • It’s a wild area. Let us know when you’re going to be in California, I’d be happy to give you some tips. Also we’re planning to spend some time there next winter as well, would love to meet up.

  4. The photos are superb, Hector…. and as always the narrative is so inviting, Brenda…. Barb and I are planning this northern California/Oregon/Washington trip next year, so you have really given us a lot to hang on to as we head that way… Thanks for the ideas….


    • Welcome Maynard! Glad to be of service and we do appreciate your kind words about our blog. And I’m happy to report that we have been in Oregon for a couple of weeks now and have more info you may find useful on the way with our next posts. We always run a bit behind as we are out and about 🙂

      Safe travels!


    • Thank you! Wonderful plan, let me know if you have any questions. We’ll be spending part of winter in Southern California, then heading north on the east side of the Sierras. So much to see in these beautiful states.

  5. What a beautiful place! I love the redwood trees. I am glad we still had our motorcycle as we toured this area of CA. It was most certainly the way to see the forest and coast.

    I love your new header…what a neat shot with that lone seal and crashing waves:)

    I hope at least one of you purchased those Bigfoot shoes. Can’t wait for the photo…haha!

    Where are you heading in Canada, do you know about when? I know your blog is a little behind where you actual are located. We are headed into the northern Rockies for September. We are also planning to visit Calgary, probably before.

    • It sure is, you were lucky to have seen it from a motorcycle. Thank you, Hector keeps getting some beautiful photos. We passed on the Bigfoot shoes though 🙁
      We’re going to Vancouver Island in July, then Vancouver, then Banff in August. We’re going to be in Glacier National Park in the end of August, then Yellowstone, then Grand Teton National Parks, and back to Denver on the 20th of September. It sounds like we may cross paths at some point. Let’s check in and see if we can meet somewhere along the way, we’d love that.

  6. What a fantastic recount!!! Thanks so much!!! You guys have such a gift for words and images, I continue to be blown away!!! And I’m right along with you!!! : ) I’m really wishing I would have stowed away in the baggage compartment of Island Girl!!!

    • Thank you! Would love for you to meet up with us sometime, and you don’t have to stay in the baggage compartment 🙂

  7. Absolutely gorgeous photography and I love the way you write Brenda! Found your blog through Nina’s. Tell them hello from Janna and the cowboy.

    • Welcome to our blog! Thank you so much. We just saw Nina and Paul before I read your message, but I think we’ll see them again in Washington and will pass along your greeting.

  8. Greetings.

    In your 3rd paragraph by the 3rd image, you wrote that Giant Sequoia are wider. Thought you may enjoy knowing the coast redwood species around your visit are a wider species than Giant Sequoia, following discoveries 2013 to 2015. Wider at dbh and wider at ground level.

    Like that mural you captured on the wall along Hy. 101. I look at that almost every time I drive by, which is fairly often.

    RE new discovery, this page has the info, which is also on Wikipedia now and


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