There are many places to see big trees in California, but the redwoods on the rugged northern coast are particularly spectacular. Below are three itineraries to explore Redwood National and State Parks and California's Redwood Coast—whether you have two hours, a day, or a long weekend.
If you’re short on time, the 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants offers a great introduction to the amazing coast redwoods of Humboldt County, which have been growing for as many as 2,000 years. Running parallel to U.S. 101 from south of Scotia to north of Garberville, the route leads through the heart of redwood country. Stop in at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park Visitor Center to learn about quick outings along the way, including the 0.6-mile Founders Grove Nature Loop Trail at mile marker 20.5. Or gaze up at the 300-foot giants on the Gould Grove Nature Trail, a 0.6-mile interpretive path directly across from the visitor center.
Fuel up with breakfast tacos at the Lost Frenchman in Redway before a full day exploring Avenue of the Giants. Ease inside the natural opening at the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree. Then shop for distinctive arts and crafts in Miranda at Spirit Art Glass and Korbly Wood Products, where master woodworker Bernie Korbly creates vases, bowls and tables from sustainably sourced redwood. Drive north for lumber camp–style grub at the historic Samoa Cookhouse near Eureka, and also stop into its logging museum. Leave yourself enough time for a late-afternoon hike through the old-growth redwoods in Redwood National Park’s Lady Bird Johnson Grove and a stop at the Kuchel Visitor Center.
Look for Roosevelt elk, the largest elk species in North America, at Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Drive north and detour off the main highway to follow the nine-mile Coastal Drive Loop for panoramic views of the Klamath River Estuary. In Klamath, rev up for a two-hour, 45-mile journey from the estuary deep into Yurok Indian country with Klamath River Jet Boat Tours. At Trees of Mystery, ride the SkyTrail gondola for views over the forest canopy and all the way out to the ocean. Farther north at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, near Crescent City in, explore 10,000 acres of primeval forest; the 5.6-mile round-trip hike on the Boy Scout Tree Trail leads to a double-trunked redwood and Fern Falls.