After wrapping up our adventures in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and driving through the Klamath Tour-Thru Tree — a redwood tree you can drive through even in our big truck — we were ready to explore Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, within Redwood National And State Parks.
Our first stop, was a quick walk along the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail.
Ah Pah Road was a logging road built in the 1940s that cut through the forest and altered nature’s design. To make way for Ah Pah Road, a tributary of McGarvey Creek was funneled through a culvert and buried. Redwood National and State Parks’ landmark watershed restoration program removed the road in 1995. During the process, excavators pulled dirt from the creek, uncovering the original streambed and letting water flow downslope as it did before.
Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park follows the path of the old logging road through a restored forest landscape to a redwood grove.
The Ah-Pah Trail is a moderate, uneven, 0.25 mile, out and back trail totaling 0.6 mile that is accessible year-round. Interpretive signs and trailside exhibits show what the land looked like when the logging road existed and tell of the National Park Service’s efforts to deconstruct the road and rehabilitate the area.
This is a short hike with towering redwoods and fallen giants that is great for families.
Know Before You Go
- The marked trailhead for the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail is on east side of Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, at mile marker 133.50, 6.5 miles north of the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.
- There is limited parking for the Ah-Pah Trail on a short section of paved road. Fun fact: this is the only portion of the logging road that still exists today!
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is located off Highway 101 at 127011 Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Orick, California 95555, 50 miles north of Eureka and 25 miles south of Crescent City in Humboldt County.
- The 14,000 acre California state park protects sandy beaches, open meadows grazed by a herd of Roosevelt elk, a canyon dripping in lush ferns, 75 miles of trails, and stands of the world’s tallest living trees, the coast redwood. It was used as a filming location for Jurassic Park.
- Download the Prairie Creek State Park Map.
- There are two campgrounds at Prairie Creek Redwoods that take reservations year-round: Gold Bluffs Beach Campground and Elk Prairie Campground. The latter has accessible cabins for rent with heaters and lights but no kitchen or bathroom. Each cabin has two single over double bunk beds and you must bring your own bedding. No pets and no smoking in the cabins.
- Dogs must be on a leash no more than six feet long and must be confined to a tent or vehicle at night. Except for service animals, pets are not allowed on trails.
- Two sections of the 1,200 mile California Coastal Trail run through Prairie Creek Redwoods: a 6.0 mile section from Carruthers Cove Trailhead to Gold Bluffs Beach and an 11.0 mile section from Gold Bluffs Beach to Kuchel Visitor Center in Orick.
- Big Tree Trail, Prairie Creek Trail, Revelation Trail, and Elk Prairie Trail are the accessible trails within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks joined with Redwood National Park to form Redwood National and State Parks in 1994. Today, the four parks’ combined 133,000 acres contain 45 percent of California’s old growth redwood forest. They have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and form a portion of the protected California Coast Ranges Biosphere Reserve. They are the only parks in the California State Parks system that accept the Federal Access Pass discount.