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Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 45 miles north of Eureka in the heart of redwood country, is a unit of Redwood National and State Parks and is designated as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. It encompasses over 14,000 acres of forest, meadows, and lush fern canyons, and a 10-mile-long beach. Services include a visitor center...
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 45 miles north of Eureka in the heart of redwood country, is a unit of Redwood National and State Parks and is designated as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. It encompasses over 14,000 acres of forest, meadows, and lush fern canyons, and a 10-mile-long beach. Services include a visitor center with nature museum, campgrounds, picnic areas, and 75 miles of interconnected hiking and biking trails that also connect to other trails in the redwood parks system. The trails range from easy to strenuous, and several are accessible, including Foothill, Prairie Creek, and Revelation Trail, which was designed for blind people. Elk Meadow day-use area, some three miles from the visitor center, is one of the best places to observe majestic native Roosevelt elk, or wapiti (a Shawnee name that means "white rump"). You can view them from the comfort of your car, from picnic tables overlooking the meadow, or from an observation platform. Davidson Trail leaves from Elk Meadow, and park personnel told me that it may be accessible to some wheelchair riders.

Life flourishes in the seemingly quiet redwood forest, from birds perched in the sunlit branches high overhead to animals burrowing in the ground. You may see banana slugs, rough-skinned newts, gray foxes, Swainson's thrushes, brush rabbits, Roosevelt elk, and if you're lucky, a threatened northern spotted owl.

If you are just passing through on Highway 101, you should spare a few minutes to drive the nine-mile Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, a gorgeous route that winds along Prairie Creek, through the park's magnificent redwoods. Even if you never get out of your vehicle, this is a stunning drive.

Trail/Pathway Details

Revelation Trail

Trailhead: Park road just past visitor center, or from Nature Trail

Length: Less than .5 mile

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Firm

Description

Located between the visitor center and Elk Prairie campground, this quarter-mile loop trail was designed for visually impaired people––it encourages the use of all one's senses to experience the forest. A guide-wire helps you navigate, and print and Braille interpretive signs suggest that you smell the aromatic leaves of the California bay laurel, count your steps to determine...
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Nature Trail (aka Redwood Access Trail)

Trailhead: Behind visitor center

Length: Less than .5 mile

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Firm

Description

If you're pressed for time or want an easy, family-friendly trail, follow the .2-mile accessibly designed Nature Trail, where the soothing sounds of a creek follow you through the giant redwoods. Ferns and salmonberry were plentiful on my visit in late spring. At the trail's end is a junction where you can either extend your trip another .2...
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Prairie Creek Trail

Trailhead: Prairie Creek visitor center

Length: 2-4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Gentle

Some short slopes in the first half-mile may be greater than 1:12, and the cross-slope may be more than 2 percent.

Terrain: Moderately Firm

Obstacles: There is no traffic light or crosswalk at the Drury Parkway crossing, so it may be uncomfortable if traffic is heavy.

Description

From the moment you step into this lush old-growth redwood forest, you'll feel dwarfed and all your senses will be enlivened. Moist air prickles your skin, sweet birdsong accentuates the quiet, and every surface has something green growing on it: Moss covers the rocks, lichens hang from branches overhead, trees have sprouted on fallen trees, and a blanket...
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Foothill Trail

Trailhead: Big Tree Wayside

Length: 2-4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

At its north end the trail narrows in places to about three feet; at its southern end to two feet.

Typical Grade: Gentle

Terrain: Moderately Firm

If you travel right at the trailhead you will be mostly on firm-packed dirt and gravel; to the left is worn asphalt that has buckled in places and can be bumpy. In some areas a thick layer of redwood duff covers tree roots; it can catch on a wheelchair's front casters or on crutches.

Description

Big Tree Wayside is the starting point for several trails, but only the Foothill Trail is indicated as accessible on the park map. From the parking lot, travel a short distance over asphalt to the junction with the Foothill Trail. If you turn right, the trail leads .75 mile to the visitor's center; turn left, as we did,...
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Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Located at the park's main entrance, the visitor center has a nature museum with history exhibits about Roosevelt elk and the native Yurok people, whose ancient homeland encompassed the park.

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Available for Gold Bluffs Beach, May-Sept. Reserve by calling (707) 488-2171, or have a ranger radio to Gold Bluffs Beach. At visitor center, Revelation Trailhead, Gold Bluffs Beach, and Elk Meadow. Big Tree Wayside has a designated space but no access aisle. Adjacent to Prairie Creek visitor center and at Revelation Trailhead and Elk Meadow. Those at Big Tree Wayside have a three-inch threshold at the entry but are otherwise accessible.
At Elk Meadow and adjacent to the accessible parking space at the visitor center; others are in a field across from the visitor center, on firm grass. The day-use area, just beyond the entrance station (fee to drive in), has accessible tables at the base of giant redwood trees; other tables, which you must navigate over a curb to reach, overlook a large meadow where Roosevelt elk often graze.
Southern end of Prairie Creek Trail
Southern end of Prairie Creek Trail (Leah Lewkowicz)

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Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • camping
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.parks.ca.gov
Managing Agency: California State Parks and National Park Service
Address: 127011 Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Orick
Nearest City: Orick
Phone: (707) 465-7335
Fees: None
Dogs: In restricted areas
Dogs on leashes no longer than six feet are allowed within 100 feet of public roads, at parking and designated picnic areas, and at beaches accessible by road (excluding dune habitat). Not allowed on trails, at ranger-led programs, or in park buildings.
Public Transportation: Redwood Coast Transit
Useful Links: North Coast Redwood Interpretation Association
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, April 18, 2011
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

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Accessible Wheelchair Icon looks like a wheelchair with balloon wheelsBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing
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