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TRAIL GUIDE


by larry rice


A Real Primo Forest


Experience the wonders of an ancient world in California’s Humboldt Redwoods State Park.


WHY GO: This 53,000-acre state park in the Eel River Basin of northern California protects magnificent coastal redwoods—some as old as 2,000 years and more than 370 feet tall. Outside the pure redwood groves, you’ll find grassy meadows and other mixed-wood forests.


WHERE TO START: Head straight to Albee Creek Campground, five miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on the scenic Mattole Road that snakes through a fantastic forest with some of the world’s tallest trees. The campground features 40 sites located under redwood trees or within an open meadow. Forest sites work best to help guard your privacy and offer an aura of peacefulness—if you don’t mind the perpetual shade. In the evening, stroll around the looped campground drive, where you might see deer or black bear in the historic apple orchard that occupies part of the meadow. Each camp- site is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and food locker, with drinking water nearby. You’ll especially appreciate the coin-operated showers and modern restrooms. Reservations are encouraged


during busy summer months, but in the late fall and early winter you’ll practically have the place to yourself.


HIKE: Although visitors can traverse more than 100 miles of trails, one of the best in Humboldt is the Bull Creek Flats Loop Trail. You can access it along the Mattole Road near the Albee Creek Campground. Plan to spend at least five hours hiking the relatively easy nine miles. The trail winds through some of the 17,000 acres of old-growth coastal redwoods, the largest remaining such redwood forest in the world.


BIKE: The park allows bicycles, but you’ll have to bring your own. Then, you can pedal more than 75 miles of multiuse trails and many backcountry fire roads. For road bikes, the Avenue of the Giants


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and the Mattole Road offer level riding over paved surfaces through tall, narrow canyons formed from huge trees, dark cathedral-like groves, and plush carpets of redwood sorrel.


BACKPACK: Start at the Big Tree Area for a good 18-mile weekend loop. This moderate-to-strenuous route takes you through redwood groves, past Johnson Camp, and continues south on Grasshopper Trail, where a night under the stars awaits at a camp on Grasshopper Mountain (seven miles from the trailhead and a 3,100-foot eleva- tion gain). At the 3,379-foot summit, you’ll find a setting of mixed woods and upland prairies with majestic 360-degree, hundred-mile views of the surrounding basins. And take the short hike to the lookout for a spectacular sunset with hawks wheeling overhead. The next day, expect to lose altitude as you head toward Bull Creek Flats, offering a look at the storybook-perfect Rockefeller Forest. Camp choices nearby include


CURT BIANCHI


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