ADVENTURE: Giant redwoods, a ‘lost coast’ are great places to unwind, unplug
For two weeks in August, I totally unplugged in northern California’s lovely Redwoods and coastal country.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where my husband and I met up with our two young adult children and spent time camping and hiking, is home to the largest remaining old-growth redwood forest in the world. The trees are so wide and so tall they’re almost impossible to photograph. Although I tried.
Some coast redwood trees at the state park are believed to be 2,000 years old. They’re not the oldest. (The Sierra redwood or giant sequoia and the bristlecone pine tree species are older.) However, growing up to 370 feet, the coast redwoods are the tallest trees on earth.
The redwood undergrowth is lush with several species of fern and redwood sorrel — which a ranger told us is edible and was commonly used by the indigenous people who lived in the area for thousands of years before the Europeans came and settled the land. The heart-shaped leaflets taste pleasantly acidic.
Albee Creek campground — where we stayed — adjoins a historic apple orchard planted by 19th century homesteaders. Black bears graze there in the early evenings, ignoring the campers who watch from a respectful distance.
Not long after we set out on a 12-mile hike through a spectacular Redwood forest, in the woods not far from the trail we spotted a mama bear, trailed by two cubs — all of whom stopped to look at us for a very long moment. Alas, I was too stunned to reach in my pocket for my camera, even (especially) when the second cub lingered after mama and sibling had ambled on.
Thankfully, many people valued the redwoods as inherently significant, and in 1918, the Save the Redwoods League was formed. The league and its supporters were successful in preserving more than 189,000 acres of California’s redwood forest lands.
From Humboldt Redwoods we headed south to Garberville; then west to the ocean at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.
Sinkyone is a foggy, hilly, forested area where from 200-foot high, mostly vertical bluffs you can walk down to black sand beaches. It’s truly a magical place where the pounding ocean waves lulled me to sleep each night. Elk graze freely throughout the area, seeming to barely notice or care about the humans.
The northwest end of the park (where we entered) is 36 miles from Redway on Briceland Road (the last nine miles windy, slow and narrow). With no main highways near this 7,367-acre wilderness state park, the area has come to be known as the “Lost Coast.”
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