Del Norte Redwood State Park. Some nice views of the coast are seen before the highway turns inland a bit and begins climbing into the densely wooded coastal hills. A barely noticeable turnout on the southbound side provides access to the Damnation Creek Trail. The name got my attention just because it sounds cool somehow, even more so than Lost Man Creek. The rating for it is 3 out of 5 for what that’s really worth. Checking out the map, I could see the trail heads down to the ocean, and my interest was peaked. I had another one of my hunches, and began imagining what the trail might be like. I was conjuring up images of a challenging trail plunging down a canyon to a secluded beach that I would have all to my self. This was going to be our second hike of the day and Sue had decided she would rather explore the area around the trail head and find a place to do meditations. The sign at the trail head indicates a 1000 foot drop to the ocean in just over 2 miles. Not the steepest trail we’ve ever hiked by any stretch, but after 5 straight days of hiking I imagine she was beginning to feel a little whipped.
Coastal Trail. The sign at the junction warns that the Damnation Creek Trail is a "steep strenuous trail", but as I found out, it’s really not that bad. Most of the elevation change is along the 1.4 mile section from the coastal trail junction down to the ocean, but the grading is nicely done. There are a few sections with earthen steps braced with wood which have washed out and eroded dramatically. A few other sections will cause you to watch your step, but overall the trail is in great shape. I didn’t count them, but there are multiple switchbacks the whole way down. The upper section is dominated by Redwoods and their typical undergrowth. Further down, there are more Spruce and Douglas Firs, oaks, and a few maples, and a lot of mosses. The lower section is thick with berry bushes and other leafy plants, and the fragrances begin to combine with the salty ocean breezes. After many switchbacks, an old footbridge brings you across the creek along a sandbar, and you finally break out to an ocean view. You don't get to actually see the ocean until you are basically there, which was a little disappointing.
Click here to see photos from this hike on flickr