Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - Trillium Falls Trail


What? :

This hike is in Prairie Creek Redwoods State and National Park, it offer the beauty of the impressive redwood forest as well as a nice creek with small but picturesque waterfall.

The hike to the waterfall and back is only 1 mile long with elevation gain of 200-feet (1 hr) but you can have a longer loop hike of 2.7 miles that pass through the redwood forest covering the mountain slopes.



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Where? :

The trailhead is located near a large parking lot and a day use area off highway 101.

From highway 101 turn west into Davison Rd. Drive and Elk Medows, you will see the parking lot on your left just before the road entering the forest on the way west to the ocean front (Gold Bluffs Beach Campground, Fern Canyon).

4.1 miles south of Prairie Creek Visitor Ctr.

3.3 miles north of Orick CA


Google Map Link



When? :

Years round.

Preferred after rain where the creek is flowing with water.



Due note 1: In the parking lot there is drinking water, information kiosks, flush toilets, picnic tables.


Due note 2: The large parking lot has plenty of parking for vehicles of any size (busses, RV's, and trailers included).


Due note 3: It is interesting to learn that the parking lot was sawmill deck with many logs piles.


Due note 4: Pets are not allowed on any park trails.


Due note 5: Cell coverage is very limited and cannot be relied on in an emergency or for downloading a map.


Due note 6: I read that many rangers recommend this as one the best walks in Redwood National and State Parks. As expected, mid-day it was pack with other visitors.



My thoughts:

A fun and popular hike through a nice redwood forest to the waterfall, in this section there are many other visitors. The loop itself has a lot fewer other hikers.

This was a fun and not so long hike, especially to the waterfall.

It is not in my must do hikes but when the creek is flowing with water the waterfall is nice.



The redwoods:

California’s coast redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) exist in a narrow band that runs for 500 miles from Monterey to just over the Oregon border. The redwoods follow the rain and fog at elevations below 2,000 feet, where heavy winter rains and moderate year-round temperatures occur. Trees can grow up to 350 feet tall or more, with a base diameter of about 20 feet.

Redwoods are “living fossils” dating back 100 million years to the Cretaceous Period- the time of the dinosaurs. The oldest coast redwoods are about 2,000 years old.

As result of extensive logging activity in Between 1880 and the early 1900s, thousands of acres of old-growth redwoods had disappeared; Series of state and national parks in northern California protect the remaining of the old-growth Redwoods.

In 1994, NPS and California State Parks agreed to co-manage four parks: Del Norte Coast, Prairie Creek and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks, and Redwood National Park. Managing the parks together provides protection and preservation of more than 105,000 acres of redwood forest.

After the logging only about 5% of old growth Redwood exist today, 95% of them are in northern California and 80% of them are already protected in one of the parks.



The Hike:


From the parking lot follow the signs to Trillium Falls. The trail start as a paved wide trail but after a short walk you will see the non-paved singletrack trail fork to the right. 

The trail climb through the redwood forest and after several switchback you will be much higher. The waterfall is 1/2 mile from the trailhead and is a great photo opportunity.

Here most people turn-around and walking back to the parking lot.

If you are short in time, you can do that, this is indeed the most beautiful section of the hike.


If you want to do the longer 2.7 miles long loop, follow the trail.

At the waterfall and the large bridge, the trail keep following the mountain slopes through the redwoods.


It cross an old logging road and at some point, it start to descend and to head back in the direction of the trailhead (north), following the edge of the redwood forest.

You will reconnect to the wide trail near the long bridge crossing the river in the direction of the highway.

Short walk on the trail on the west side of the river (no need to cross the bridge) will bring you back to the parking lot trail head.







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