See the first two posts on the trails in my new book project here and here.
With the high country in the Sierra Nevada, Cascades and Klamaths still covered in snow, May was the month to pick off some scattered low elevation trails around the state. At the beginning of the month I was able to pop over to the Redwood Coast and claim two spectacular trails in the Redwoods. Following that, day trips accounted for a trail in the Klamath Basin and one on the edge of California’s great Central Valley. Lastly, a family wedding down in Exeter (near Visalia) gave me the opportunity to finish a trail in the Sierra Nevada’s southern foothills. I was really glad to get this one done before the wildflowers went away and the summer heat moved in. Even though I caught this one in mid-May, it stilled turned into something of a personal saga (fortunately, all ended well). Now the preparation begins for the real summer work. Next month I will be heading off to Sequoia and Kings Canyon, as well as some other scattered spots around the southern Sierra. It should be a great start to the summer!
The James Irvine Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is one of the finest redwood hikes around. If it is not done as a shuttle hike, it can be pretty long, but the hike includes incredible old growth trees in a wild setting and the turn-around point is at awesome Fern Canyon and Gold Bluffs Beach. For a complete redwood experience, this hike is tough to beat.
The second hike I picked for the Redwood Coast is the Boy Scout Tree Trail. In Del Norte County’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, this is another incredible redwood hike that feature exceptional old growth trees, including the mighty Boy Scout Tree, one of the most immense redwoods in the region. The trail ends at lovely Fern Falls.
I can’t leave out the Lava Beds. While this is not exactly a hiker’s park, there are some really nice trails with high desert scenery and great views of Mount Shasta, vast lava flows and many landmarks in southern Oregon.
The trail to the Sacramento River and Iron Canyon is not too well known but it is a pretty hike with some excellent views of the mountains ringing the north end of the Central Valley. The dramatic vista of the river’s passage through the canyon highlights its transition from a mountain river to the lazy, winding giant that flows south through the valley to the Delta.
The San Joaquin is California’s other great river that composes the network of waterways that feed the Delta and San Francisco Bay. Along the way, it collects the waters of the Merced, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Mokelumne and Cosumnes Rivers. During years of heavy precipitation, the mighty Kings River even joins the San Joaquin. The hike down to the San Joaquin River Gorge passes through awesome wildflowers en route to a bridge that crosses the rugged granite gorge. From there the trail makes a loop to the top of a high ridge with fantastic views of the surrounding area.
The next post will finally see some classic Sierra Nevada scenery!
I’m heading to Sequoia and King’s Canyon in September! Can’t wait to see your take on them. I’m going to get in one overnight on the Twin Lakes Trail and dayhiking for another day or so. So cool that you get to do this project.
That is awesome! Is this your first time in the Sierra or have you been there before? Where do you think you will go on your day hike?
First time in the Sierra. For day hiking, obviously we will hit a lot of the main tourist stuff, but I don’t have a real itinerary yet. I’m figuring one day in Sequoia, another in Kings. Any thoughts?
It depends on what you want to see, really. As far as Kings Canyon goes, if you are after giant sequoias, then the Redwood Mountain Loop is a good call. If you want tall granite towers, then hike to Mist Falls. They are both solid dayhikes, around 8-10 miles or so. The latter is pretty popular but still well worth the effort. Just out of curiosity, are you able to change plans and head to Yosemite?
Nope. In fact, purposely didn’t go to Yosemite because I was told the waterfalls would be dry by September. Already got flights, wilderness permits, and lodging in Sequoia.
Fair enough. You are definitely right to want to hit Yosemite when the falls are going. I really hope you are able to do that sometime soon too! If you are looking at other options for hiking in Sequoia, consider the Mineral King area. The trails do involve a lot of climbing you can get a great high country experience and there are not tons of people like other areas on the west side.
Awesome. Thanks for the recs. Don’t worry, Yosemite is most definitely on my short list.
When you do get there, move heaven and earth to hike the Panorama Trail. For my money, it is the best hike in the world.
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