Hidden Beach sits within Redwood National Park along the California coast some 15 or so miles south of Crescent City. As its name implies, it’s only accessible by trail. One of these starts near the Trees of Mystery parking lot and the other – part of the California Coastal Trail – from the Lagoon Creek Picnic Area off Highway 101. Having just visited the Trees, we elected to start from the picnic area. After passing the beach, the Coastal Trail continues on to the drive-in Klamath Overlook (which gives you a view of the mouth of the Klamath River). So our plan became to hike out-and-back to the overlook (or near it), visiting the beach along the way.
There are views of the ocean and shore at the start, in the middle, and at the end of the trail, but not many in between. But the trail does let you experience – without any bushwhacking – the dense and myriadly complex vegetation of these coastal forests.
The short (unsigned) spur trail down to Hidden Beach is just over a mile from the picnic area and right where the trail comes in from the Trees of Mystery. Somehow we’d gotten an early start on the day and the beach itself was still shrouded in shade. But we had it to ourselves. Not that the seagulls were happy about our presence but, hey, we’re bigger. 🙄
We left the beach and made a 500-foot (152 m) climb to the top of the cliffs guarding the rocky coastline below. About 2.5 miles past Hidden Beach we thought we heard crows squawking or dogs barking or (perhaps) crazed hikers yelling in the forest. As we came even with a cove several hundred feet below us, it became obvious that we were above a sea lion colony. And a very noisy and garrulous one at that. We couldn’t see ’em but we could certainly hear ’em.
At just under four miles from the picnic area, we reached a viewpoint with a railing. We could have continued on to the official Klamath Overlook (we could see the cars on the bluff ahead) but decided this car-free spot was good enough. You can’t quite see the mouth of the Klamath River from here but we got the idea. So after a snack we started back.
Rather than return exactly the way we’d come out, we took the Yurok Nature Loop Trail back past the lagoon to the picnic area. I was hoping it was going to allow us access to (or at least a view of) the lagoon, but, no, you can only do that from the picnic area.
In all, this out-and-back came to seven miles (11.2 km) with about 700 feet (213 m) of gain. It was a good mix of coastal forest (but, paradoxically, no redwoods), beach, meadows, and some sweeping views of the ocean. We heard sea lions and tried our best not to step on the dozens of banana slugs that seemed intent on crossing the trail at one point. Why, and to where, we know not. We were also menaced (but in a charming way) by the two ounces of feathered fury that is the Winter Wren. 🙂HOME