360° VR Panoramas of the Redwood National and State Parks
The James Irvine Trail
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.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
See also: Fern Canyon

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Bridge Ovr Prairie Creek

Bridge Ovr Prairie Creek

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

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Date photographed: June 25, 2010
See location in Google Maps

Redwoods on the irvine Trail

Redwoods on the irvine Trail

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

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Date photographed: June 25, 2010
See location in Google Maps

Irvine Trail Hillside

Irvine Trail Hillside

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

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Date photographed: June 25, 2010
See location in Google Maps

Previous locality: Elk Prairie Next locality: Prairie Creek East