In one of our field research studies in college, a cluster of trees at the bottom of an overlook hill caught my eye. I immediately fell into a dreamy state and imagined reading a book under its shade. There was nothing extraordinary about the trees. As a matter of fact, if I am going to return to that exact same spot, I won’t be able to recognize it at all. There was nothing special about the trees.
It was however, a special day for me. That was the day I knew I love trees.
The world-renowned redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world, not to be confused with the sequoia trees, which are the largest. The Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) is a complex mix of Redwood National Park and three state parks on the northern coast of California – Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods. The park in collective is designated as a World Heritage Site.
PRAIRIE CREEK REDWOODS
After a wonderful day driving on breathtaking US Highway 101 prior, we are excited to be finally surrounded by giant redwood trees. Our day started with a beautiful sightseeing along the coastal drive trail of Prairie Creek Redwoods with a magnificent panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean that borderlines the horizon. We then made a quick stop after reaching the Klamath Section overlooking the Klamath Estuary. My husband was surprised to see a surviving World War II B-71 early-warning radar station disguised as a farm along the coastal drive. Given its tactical location, it is but the perfect spot to watch and guard approaching potential enemies.
NEWTON B. DRURY SCENIC PARKWAY
The Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is an alternate drive to its parallel US Highway 101. It drives through an old redwood forest which gave us an idea as to why these world-renowned redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world.
LADY BIRD JOHNSON GROVE
There is a significant number of hiking trails around Klamath. One of the shortest and perhaps the easiest (our perfect fit!) trails is the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. This trail was dedicated by President Richard Nixon to Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of his predecessor, US President Lyndon B. Johnson, in recognition of her dedication to the establishment of Redwood National Park.
BALD HILLS, MOUNTAIN MEADOWS AND LYONS RANCH
As if walking through the redwood trees of superlatives was not overwhelming enough, we proceeded to drive/ascended towards the Bald Hills Road. The redwood trees were mighty and magnificent, but the drive on the Bald Hills Road towards Lyons Ranch Trail was one of my most favorite sights to date. There were open prairies and wild flowers along the way, giant redwood trees somewhere in the background, and a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean highlights the panorama. The Redwood Creek Overlook offers a lookout to the Tall Trees Grove that hosts a former title-holder of world’s tallest tree. We also saw a large herd of elk peacefully grazing on a meadow which we stopped for a chance to photograph!
THOMAS H. KUCHEL VISITOR CENTER
Still recovering from what seemed like a paradise trip on Bald Hills Road, we descended and drove to Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center. We didn’t stay long, but long enough to at least take photos of the beach on the back. From our point of view, it was hard to tell where the the Pacific Ocean meets the horizon. It was also agonizingly windy and the sands were blowing on our eyes and face. We could hardly take photos of ourselves with our eyes open.
Speaking of elk burgers (nyay!), we headed towards the Elk Meadow and had our first close encounter with a herd of elk. We simply parked our car at their designated parking lot, and the herd of elk were grazing just a few inches from us. I was truly delighted to be this up and close.
HIGH BLUFF OVERLOOK
My husband and I wanted to watch the sunset at a vantage point, so we returned to the Coastal Drive Road and stayed at High Bluff Overlook. What a marvelous idea! It was not the most amazing sunset to boast but there was a slightly visible mist crawling from the coast to the end stretch of the Pacific Ocean, and it was heavenly!
Our last stop for the day is Crescent City. It is about 40 minutes away from Klamath, past Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park on US Highway 101. The town is a typical American small town but alive with coastal vibe. It reminded me a lot of Oregon, which ironically enough, is a place I have never been to. Is it perhaps because Crescent City is only about 20 miles south of the Oregon border? Maybe.
It was a day filled with joy, awe and inspiration. Trees are worth falling in love for. I suppose Joyce Kilmer will agree, “I think that I shall never see, A poem lovely as a tree.”