Day 2: Northern California

Stop 1: Fern Canyon

I read in some blogs that this is the best 1-mile hike in California and was skeptical about it. But it is absolutely gorgeous! Btw, Jurassik Park was filmed there.

Fern Canyon is located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, not far from our camping location. Seven different types of ferns grow on the 50 foot high walls, they create perfect environment for some of ancient species and amphibians. Home Creek runs through these walls.

The area is wet due to all running streams. We were prepared to get wet and put on our hiking boots, however, when we got there we saw small wooden footbridges installed across all streams. They made it very easy to walk though the canyon and not get wet. This hike is a 1-mile loop, but we decided to go back the same way to enjoy the canyon once again.

To get to this place take Davison Road from Highway 101. It is 8 miles of unpaved dirt road, but totally worth doing it. There are several streams on the road and you’ll need to cross them. Their depth depends on the season, but they were small this time. We crossed all of them with our small car. Some people left their cars by the stream and hiked additional 1 mile.

Davison Road:

Fern Canyon, California

Beginning of the trail, it is 0.1 mile to the canyon:

Fern Canyon, California

Some of my favorite pictures of the canyon:

Fern Canyon, California

34. Fern Canyon

35. Fern Canyon

36. Fern Canyon

Fern Canyon, California

Tiny waterfalls dripping from the walls:

Fern Canyon, California

Fern Canyon, California

Fern Canyon hike starts from the Gold Bluffs Beach, we stopped there for a stroll and to take these pics:

Gold Bluffs Beach

Gold Bluffs Beach

Stop 2: The Big Tree

This tree is estimated 1500 years old and has a circumference of 68 feet. It is located on the Newton Drury Scenic Parkway near the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. There are no clear signs on the road, we parked next to the first sign saying “Trailhead parking” and we found a sign leading to the tree. There are several larger hikes in the area too.

The Big Tree Prairie Creek Redwoods SP

Stop 3: Crescent / Enderts Beach

On the way to these beaches we also stopped at Klamath River Overlook, but we couldn’t see anything due to the heavy fog. If you take Enderts road along the Crescent Beach you’ll get to the Crescent Beach Overlook point. From there a short 0.75 trail goes to the remote Enderts beach.

Enderts Beach

Enderts Beach

Enderts Beach

Enderts Beach

Stop 4: Howland Hill Road

After Fern Canyon this is my favorite part of our trip. Howland Hill Road is an unpaved one lane 10-mile road in-between  of giant redwoods. Sometimes the road gets very narrow and you need to squeeze in between 2 trees. Passing is a fun part, especially in hiking areas, like Stout Grove. We stopped a little further from that area to avoid traffic and walked to the hiking trails. We made 1-mile loop trail, but there are several longer routes as well.

Howland Hill Road

Howland Hill Road

Howland Hill Road

Not the best picture, but gives an idea of how the road looks like:

Howland Hill Road

Stop 5: Summit Lake North campground in Lassen Volcanic National Park

To avoid repeating the same road we went up to Oregon and drove to Lassen Volcanic National Park via Mount Shasta area. Mount Shasta is seen on the bottom picture. It was unexpected to see it covered in snow. But even more surprisingly was to see more snow in Lassen Volcanic.

Road to Lassen Volcanic

Mount Shasta

Summit North Lake campground is also nice. The only disadvantage is mosquitoes so don’t forget to take anti mosquito spray if you decide to camp there!

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Day 3

Day 1: Northern California

My first comment is that this trip was amazing, but even if we made it in 4 days I highly recommend spending more times in Redwoods and Lassen Volcanic, especially if you are not accustomed to the road trips. These national parks and surrounding areas are very beautiful and deserve more time to be seen and enjoyed in full.

Stop 1: Pacific Coast Highway

We had a lot of energy on our first day and decided to quickly drive through Sonoma county to get to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and drive along the coast to the North. Below are some random pics from the stops that we made on PCH.

PCH, California

PCH, California

PCH, California

PCH, California

Stop 2: Fort Bragg Glass Beach

In the past this place used to be a dump, but nature created something beautiful out of it.. This place is unique, but the most disturbing thing is that people who visit it collect and take glass with them. We saw people bringing buckets and plastic bags to grab as many glass pieces as possible. If you visit please leave that place untouched for other people to enjoy too.

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

This beach is located in the MacKerricher State Park,  and if you walk a little further you’ll see some beautiful landscapes.

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, California

Stop 3: Chandelier drive-thru tree

There are 3 drive-thru trees in Northern California: Chandelier, Shrine and Klamath. Even though these places are tourist traps (they are still fun for kids), we decided to visit one of them. After paying $5 and lining up for approximately half an hour we had a chance to get our picture. Driving thru this tree reminded me of driving narrow Spanish roads 🙂

Chandelier Tree, California

Stop 4: Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants is a scenic 31 miles road going through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Founders Grove is the must stop place. Below are some pictures taken in that area, hubby for scale 🙂

Avenue of the Giants, California, Redwoods

Avenue of the Giants, California, Redwoods

Avenue of the Giants, California, Redwoods

Avenue of the Giants, California, Redwoods

Avenue of the Giants, California, Redwoods

Stop 5: Elk Prairie campground

This is now my favorite campground: spacious, private, in the woods, with hot water and fire rings. We arrived around 9pm and still had some sun light to settle our tent and make fire. Here are some pictures of the surrounding area (taken early in the morning):

Elk Prairie Redwoods Camp

Elk Prairie Redwoods Camp

Elk Prairie Redwoods Camp

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Day 2

4 Days in Northern California: Pacific Coast Highway, Redwoods, Lassen Volcanic, Sacramento

Fern Canyon, CaliforniaDuration: 4.5 days
Mileage: ~2000
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 2 people: $450 ($65 for 2 nights in camps, $45* for 2 nights in hotels, $200 gas, $120 food, $20 other)

  • Day 0: drive to San Francisco after work
  • Day 1: drive to Redwoods National Park along Pacific Coast, explore Glass Beach and Avenue of the Giants (420 mi, 10 h overall)
  • Day 2: explore Fern Canyon, Big Tree of Elk Creek Prairie SP, Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy, Crescent Beach, Enderts Beach, Howland Hill Road; drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park (400 mi, 9 h overall)
  • Day 3: hike to Cinder Cone; drive to Sacramento (300 mi, 6 h overall)
  • Day 4: explore Sacramento; “17 mile drive”; drive home (600 mi, 10 h)

* We used our Wyndham rewards to book hotels, one night price was $15, second $30