Enchanted Forest - Usal Beach


What? :

I love trees and when traveling I try to visit as many unique trees as I can.

In California I visit the Oldest (Great Basin Bristlecone Pine), Largest (Sequoia) and Tallest (Coastal Redwood) trees on earth but probably the most “magical” trees are the one hidden deep in the North'n California lost coast.

The huge old redwood trees in this grove has unique candelabra resemble shape that craft around them magical enchanted atmosphere. Seeing the trees in close up give you the feeling that you are inside a fantasy movie.


Where? :

The magical trees are located on a specific mountain slope redwood grove near Usal Beach at north California, north of Fort Bragg.

To reach to this grove, you need to drive from Fort Bragg 28.8 miles north on highway 1. 

From highway 1 you need to take gravel forest road for 6 miles. For this road you will need high-clearance car, four-wheel drive is recommended.

For detailed description on the drive see my Usal Beach blog.


The hiking trailhead is located near Usal Beach campground, on the right side of the road, just before the road is crossing the bridge over Usual Creek.

I visit here the second time late December 2023, on a nice clear day after few rainy days. The forest road at the mountain section was wet but except few places it was not to muddy.

The last road section, just before you reach the bridge crossing, is muddy with large deep puddles that cover the road. You must have high clearance 4x4 cars to cross this section up to the bridge.

If you prefer not to try to cross the puddles with your car you can park it just before the first puddles, on the large grass opening and campsite on the left side of the road.


Trailhead - Google Map Link



When? :

The forest road from highway 1 is open year-round but after rain it can be challenging to drive, under heavy rain also 4x4 cars may find it challenging in some sections.

The forest road north of Usual Creek to the direction of Shelter Cove can be close during winter months.



Due note 1: Usal Beach is not an OHV park. Street legal vehicles are allowed on designated and maintained roads.


Due note 2: Although not mandatory, four-wheel drive and high clearance vehicles are recommended. This is not a recommended road for low clearance car.


Due note 3: When wet, the park’s dirt roads are impassable for passenger cars, under heavy rain also 4x4 cars may find it challenging.


Due note 4: Near Usal river opening there are primitive campgrounds in the forest.


Due note 5: I saw a large sign that the road north of Usual Creek to Shelter Cove and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is close to traffic during the winter months. I did not check if this is open or not, probably need to visit here again during the summer months.


Due note 6: The hiking trail leading into the tree grove is steep but relatively short.


Due note 7: Shady Dell property was a private land and in 2011 Save the Redwoods League purchased the 957-acre land. The trail was opened in 2015.



My thoughts:

During my first visit at Usual beach, I was not aware of the nearby Enchanted Forest.

Only when I did some additional research for my blog writing I saw pictures of the candelabra shaped trees. I told myself that I must come back to see them.

I was not disappointed.

The unique candelabra shaped trees growing up like candles induce mysterious atmosphere on their surroundings.

I was the only one at the trail and I found it as a magical and inspiring place to visit and connect with nature.



What cause the unique trees shape:

The redwood tree’s trunk were fracture by ocean winds, the tree keep growing and the broken trunks continue to grow from the sides up towards the sky.

After many years the up growing branches created the unique candelabra shaped. This is probably the only place on earth you can see such redwood trees.

The tree’s unique twisted structure does not fit for logging. This helped them to survive the instance redwood logging that carried off most of California’s old-growth redwoods; the trees were too twisted to be of much use to the lumber mills.



The visit:

The trail in this section is part of Peter Douglas Trail, a southerly extension of the Lost Coast Trail.


The hike start off the dirt road, just before the large bridge that cross Usual Creek.


I arrived at the trailhead early in a cold clear winter morning, right after sunrise.

There were only 2 other cars in the campground, disperse camping here for the night.

During my visit I was the only one hiking into the grove.


The trail is clearly marked and maintained.


After a short walk you will see the explanation board and from here you will start to walk into the forest, climb the hill slope covered by large trees and dense ferns carpets.


Soon you will start to see the unique trees, mainly on the left side of the trail.

As you will walk up the hill slope you will see more trees, after short hike you will reach the most massive and impressive candelabra shaped tree, you can’t miss it.

Here you can find a wooden bench, take a rest, and immerse yourself into nature, imagen you are inside your favorite fantasy movie.

The only fantasy movie element that were missing are fog and elves, when I visit here there was no fog, the elves where hiding.


After the large tree keep walking up the trail where you can see additional twisted trees.

After short steep climb you will reach an old forest logging road leading left & right. Here there is another bench.

To the best of my understanding this is the end of the unique shape trees trail section.

From here the Peter Douglas Trail turn right, winds through redwood and Douglas fir forest with few overlooking viewings point to the bay.


I walked to the right to find a viewpoint; I look down to the bay from opening in the trees and went back the same way I came up.


On my way down I pass again through the forest, enjoying the unique trees.

After short time I came back to my car.

I decide to cross the puddles and drive over the bridge, right after crossing the river I turned left into side road, leading to the direction of the beach.


I hiked to the ocean beach, looking without any succuss for Tul elks (I saw somewhere there is herd in this beach during the winter months) and after a short stay I went back to my car.


My original plan was to drive north on the forest road all the way to Shelter Cove. Just before entering the road, I saw a large sign that say that the road up north is close during winter months, so I changed my plans, make a U turn, and drove back south to highway 1.


I drove all the way north to see the Enchanted Forest at Usal Beach and was not disappointed. The large unique trees are indeed Enchanted and magical.









Additional Pictures: