Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is one of the hundreds of beautiful parks in the California State Parks system. Part of the park system since 1929, Del Norte consists of 6,400 acres loaded with old growth redwoods. It encompasses eight miles of California coastline. Del Norte is considered a World Heritage Site, which means that it is a place with cultural or physical significance to the entire world. It is also a Biosphere Reserve which means it is protected because of its biological diversity.
The park rises from sea level to 1277 feet in elevation. The cliffs that line the coastline make most of the coast impossible to access except for the combination of two trails – Damnation Creek Trail and Footsteps Rock Trail. Some of the trees that make up the part of the forest underneath the redwoods are big leaf maple, madrone, and tonak trees. Red alder is the other vegetation and this usually is replaced by fir trees and redwoods.
There are ten miles of hiking trails in the park. Steep Damnation Creek Trail takes a deep drop throught the redwoods to Damnation Cove. The beach in the cove is called Wilson Beach and is only ½ mile wide, but it has some beautiful tide pools. You should plan your hike around the low tide to take the best advantage of these tide pools. This beach is not safe for swimming. The slope of the beach is much too steep, it is rocky, and the seas here are turbulent and icy cold.
Damnation Creek was given its name by settlers in this area around 1828. They found the going tough trying to get through the forests on the banks of the creek. This is not an easy hike, especially on the way back up from the cove. Plus, the last leg of the trail down to the beach is made more difficult because the bluffs here can be muddy and slippery.
The trailhead is at mile-marker 16 on Highway 101. The first quarter mile climbs up through the redwoods to a ridge where you start your descent towards the coast. The Yurok indians, native to Calilfornia, used this same trail to get to the beach to collect shellfish and seaweed. As you go down, you will encounter a number of very steep switchbacks. At the halfway point, you will start to see the Pacific and then come upon wooden bridges to help you get across Damnation Creek. When you are almost to the bottom, a cliff provides a view of the creek plunging into the ocean, sea stacks, and the cove.
The Mill Creek Campground at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, which is open from May 1 to September 30, has 145 campsites, most for motorhomes and trailers. Only a few sites are available for tents. The campground is located in an area that was logged in 1920, long before the Del Norte redwoods became protected by the state park system in 1929.
The park is located seven miles south of Crescent City on the ocean side of Highway 101 and the campground is 2 miles east of the highway. The physical address of the park is 111 2nd Street, Crescent City, CA 95531. For information about the park, weather conditions, and campground reservations you can call 707-465-2146.