Friday, April 15, 2011

Summer Road Trip 2010 - Part III

Hiking in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Santa Clara, CA - Yeah, I finally finished part 3 of the summer road trip! Honestly, I think the more I enjoy a trip the more time I spend futzing around with the photos. Well, I futzed around with these photos quite a bit. Another part of the problem is attention span. Mine is now controlled by an infant's nap time, and that doesn't bode well for productivity. In any case, I love being able to re-visit a trip via futz time, whether it's in 20 minute bursts or a during a 2 hour power nap.

Enough yapping... here is Part 3 of our Summer Road Trip though the Northwest of the country. We started in Colorado, went northwest through Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, & Oregon. Part 3 brings us to Northern California and back to the Bay Area. If you missed Parts 1 & 2 you can check them out here and here respectively. For this last leg of our trip we were still sticking to our goal of hitting as many parks as possible. Here is where we went:

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Established in 1929, the park was named after the noted fur trapper Jedediah Smith, who visited its location during an 1826 expedition. This predominately old growth coast redwood park is bisected by the last major free flowing river in California, the Smith River. The park is one of 3 state parks that make up the Redwood National and State Park System, which is managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Not Just Redwoods.

Location Del Norte County, California, USA
Nearest city Crescent City
Area 10,000 acres (40 km²)
Established 1929
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation (cooperatively managed within
Redwood National and State Parks)
What I liked about this park is that you get to leave the pavement behind and work your way into the forest on a dusty, winding road. We stopped at the incredible Stout Grove and took a little hike, but I also found myself stopping the car at random points throughout the park and ditching into the woods to take more photos. That said, I didn't get too many good photos of this park. Later in the day, I got a little better at photographing the redwoods.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park:  Dusty Road, Stout Grove, & Foggy Forest.
Crescent City, CA

Ok, not a park, but a nice stop anyway. Suwei and I spent the morning there searching for coffee and food. We stopped in at the Redwood National Park Headquarters for a quick view of the visitor's center. Then we checked out the Battery Point Light House, one of the first lighthouses built on the California coast.

Battery Point Light House, Crescent City, CA

You may have seen Crescent City in the news just recently because of it's susceptibility to tsunamis. They have recorded 31 of them between 1933 to 2008. Most recently on March 11, 2011 when the 9.0 quake hit Japan, they had a peak surge of over 8 feet.

Crescent City Beach

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Description:  The park, established in 1927, has approximately 50% old growth coast redwood and eight miles of wild coastline.

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.

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Location Del Norte County, California, USA
Nearest city Crescent City
Area 6,400 acres (26 km2)
Established 1927
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation (cooperatively managed within
Redwood National and State Parks)

As we entered the park the fog that I'd been looking for got thicker and thicker. I was looking for fog because it made getting good photographs a heck of a lot easier. We pulled over at the first trail head we could find (Damnation Trail) and ditched into the woods. It was really quite spectacular in there. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to walk all the way down to the beach. Next time.

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Redwood National Park

Description: Redwood National Park actually encompasses Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  Together the four parks protect 38,982 acres of old growth forest and 45% of all remaining coast redwoods, the tallest trees on Earth.

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park

Location Humboldt County & Del Norte County, California, USA
Nearest city Crescent City
Area 133,000 acres (540 km2)
Established January 1, 1968
Visitors 385,171   (in 2007)
Governing body Co-managed by US National Park Service and California Department of Parks and Recreation
World Heritage Site 1980

After passing through Klamath, CA, Suwei and headed west of a tiny twisty coastal road that passed an old World War II radar station and many steep and rugged coastal cliffs. I'm sure the views would have been fantastic, if the entire coast wasn't socked in with fog. Still it was a nice drive. After that we drove up to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove where the fog was much more welcomed. There were a few more people wandering the loop here, but it was still very peaceful. Every now and then the suns rays would peak through the clouds and light the place up.

Finally we realized we needed to hit the road and head south if we were going to make it home by a decent hour.

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park

Muir Woods National Monument

Description: Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it protects one of the last old growth Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) groves in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as one of the most easily accessed.
Muir Woods National Monument

Location Marin County, California, USA
Nearest city San Francisco, CA
Area 559 acres (226 ha)
Established January 9, 1908
Visitors 775,941   (in 2005)
Governing body National Park Service

Once the fog cleared up we made pretty good time and reached Marin by late afternoon. Just enough time to visit one last park, Muir Woods National Monument. We were able to stretch out the legs on one more short hike before wrapping up our trip.

I didn't get all that many good photos of Muir Woods as the sun was shinning bright by that time and the forest floor was quite contrasty.

Muir Woods National Monument
 And finally....  We return to the Bay Area to settle into our new life as reformed Californians.

I guess you could add the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to our list, but we really didn't stop, except for traffic and to pay the toll.

Just in case you weren't keeping track, in the two weeks we were on the road we managed to see 4 National Parks, 7 National Monuments, 2 National Recreation Areas, 2 State Parks, and a smattering of City Parks. We enjoyed the trip so much that we were inspired to get Keira a National Parks Passport. She's already got quite a few entries, but that's for another blog post.

Here is a link to the slide show for Part III:

Northern Route Road Trip - Part 3

And just in case you missed them here are the slide shows for Parts I and II. There are a few non-park photos in there as well.

Northern Route Road Trip - Part 1
Northern Route Road Trip - Part 2

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