Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, established in 1927, has approximately 50% old growth coast redwood and eight miles of wild coastline. The park is located two miles off Highway 101 about 7 miles south of Crescent City. The mixed understory includes tanoak, madrone, red alder, big leaf maple, and California bay. Ground cover is dense with a wide range of species. Vegetation is predominately red alder which will eventually give way to fir and second growth redwood. The topography is fairly steep with elevations from sea level to 1277'. The predominant mountain range is oriented in a north-south direction with steep cliffs adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, making the bulk of the rocky sea coast generally inaccessible except by Damnation Trail and Footsteps Rock Trail. Wilson Beach or False Klamath Cove, 1/2-mile of sandy beach, is meant for strolling and provides excellent tide pool viewing at low tide. It is not safe for swimming due to the steep beach slope, rocky conditions, frequent rough seas and cold water. This park, along with Prairie Creek, Jedediah Smith, and the National Park Service's Redwood National Park, are managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. These parks make up 45 percent of all the old-growth redwood forest remaining in California.
Did this one today and really enjoyed it. Not many old growth trees left but a lot of younger trees and plenty in rings. A bit eery with the park closed up. I parked outside the gate and did this trail and the little nature loop as well. The trail has a little debris because it's not being maintained and no one seems to be hiking it which made it even better. There was one little bridge out but a little trail already to get around. Overall the trail is still in good condition. The trail crosses just a few hundred yards past the closed gate. Start it either way and enjoy the looped hike...
Good hike that I enjoyed especially because of the beautiful redwoods and the cardio on the way back. If you're not in reasonable shape don't do this hike. There is only a few hundred yards of flat ground on the 4.2 mile hike. If you are looking for a nice beautiful beach stop at Crescent City. If you want to step on this beach at all check your tide schedule. Today was an incoming close to high tide with a good swell and there wasn't a beach. The trail was in pretty good shape but still needed a little work even though a dozen trail workers were on their way up as I was going down. There is a sign saying the bridge isn't usable but it is and the sign that was on the bridge itself is no longer there. That may have been what the crew was doing this morning. I was expecting to see more than the 2 other hikers that I saw on the trail. Overall a very good hike that I enjoyed and will repeat.
Greg B. on Damnation Creek Trail
Beautiful hike through the Redwoods. Most of the elevation change is in the mile closest to the shore which makes it strenuous.
One of my favorite hikes ever. A moderate hike that starts in the redwoods of Northern California and ends at a secluded beach that's only accessible from the trail. It's a great place to whale watch during the season.
It's different in the fact that you start the hike by going down in elevation and then up on the way back. You start out in the Redwoods that have their natural distinct color. The trail is clearly marked the entire route. When you get closer to the ocean, you'll notice that the redwood bark greyish-white. This is due to the moist salt-air.
After 0.6 miles, you'll come to a crossroads with the Coastal Trail. You should stay to the right and on the trail that goes up in elevation a bit. You'll follow that for another 0.1 miles and come to another crossroads with the Coastal Trail.
At that point you'll see the sign for the continuing "Damnation Creek Trail." When I went recently, there was a sign that warns of a bridge under reconstruction. It also says there is no beach access. Don't let this discourage you.
When you reach the bridge you'll notice it's still intact. It's missing the support for the middle. Therefore, if you walk across it you'll feel it bob up and down. I've walked across it and it's fine so long as you don't jump.
If you don't feel comfortable walking across the bridge, there has been a makeshift path cut to the right of the bridge. The creek that you cross is about a foot and a half wide, so you should have no trouble crossing.
Once you get to the beach, you're up on a rock face that has a path to the right to climb down. It's a little steep, but anyone can do it. Then, you're at the ocean!
The trailhead pull off is about 8 miles south of Crescent City on the right.
This trial started off in the redwoods...so it was quite beautiful from the very beginning. You hike half a mile and then you intersect with the costal trail. Proceed north a few more feet and you will notice the trail head on your left. This trail does drop 1000 feet in less than three miles. So prepare yourself for quite a dive down and a climb out. If you are capable...do it. We reached the beach and only shred the site with starfish, clams and hermit crabs. I have never seen anything so beautiful. The mountains rolled right into the sea. We hiked early so there was still a fog covering the tops of the mountains. It made the moment all that more surreal.
We would recommend this to anyone and would definitely do this again. The trial was well maintained and well marked. Just beware of the climb down and out.
The name refers to the damnation a hiker will feel when he/she goes back up. I wouldn't worry about it, though. If you're in reasonable shape it won't be bad, even if the descent is abrupt and intimidating. A round-trip hike probably takes 2-4hrs - so don't expect a quick visit to the beach. The beach, by the way, provides spectacular views of the rocky coastline. There's a good chance you will see interesting skeletons or carcasses of battered animals on the rough shore, I myself found the large skull of a strange fish I could not identify (not an expert... yet) I also saw a group of what I believe to be Black Oystercatchers, which are sea birds with distinctive orange beaks, hanging out on the beach.
One concern I hear is that the trailhead is right along 101, so hikers have to listen to traffic a bit of the way down. This might be true but I cannot confirm it, I was probably caught up in the forest scenery to notice. These redwoods are the real deal. I loved the nutrient-rich soil beneath my feet and the fog-fed trees towering above me.
All in all, Damnation Creek Trail is a perfect marriage of the Pacific Northwest ocean & forest ecosystems. The shift between the two is dramatic and rewarding.