PARK: Redwood National and State Park FEATURES: a hillside redwood forest, a small waterfall, and an elkviewing station astride Prairie Creek DISTANCE: 3.15 miles, loop ELEVATION GAIN: 300 feet DIFFICULTY: moderate
Open all year
HISTORY: Davison Road was named for early day rancher Arthur Davison and his family, whose place lay just to the north. The Davisons homesteaded there in 1889 and began a dairy operation. Soon they also opened a stopping place for travelers who came along the nearby Arcata to Crescent City wagon road.
In 1902 Davison Road was built; a fifteen-man crew did the work with picks, shovels, and a horse-drawn grader called a Fresno scraper. The road climbs over a low ridge and then drops to reach the Gold Bluffs.
THE HIKE: Your route begins at a paved walkway at the southern end of the parking lot. Soon you meet another walkway that connects with the eastern side of the lot. Turn right and proceed 50 feet to a junction with the Davison Trail. Turn right again, passing a wetland area to the left next to Prairie Creek. In 100 yards take a dirt path to the right, the start of the Trillium Falls Trail.
Ascending the hill, you enter forest, climb on switchbacks, and then follow a contour south. At 0.6 mile a steel bridge offers a right-hand view of rock-filled Trillium Falls. You then hike up another section of the slope, partly on switchbacks, before coming to a flattish bench land at the John B. DeWitt Grove at 1.15 miles. DeWitt was secretary of the Save-the-Redwoods League for many years. Look now for Pacific rhododendron and western trillium.
Western trillium (Trillium ovatum) is one of the preeminent wildflowers of the North Coast. The first part of its name describes its structure: tri = three, for it has three large, pointed, soft-green leaves; three petals that are brilliantly white when young but shade to pink and purple as they age; and three sepals that alternate with the petals in a sort of rosette some distance above the leaves.
Also found in the park is the giant, or sessile, trillium (Trillium chloropetalum), which has red or, occasionally, yellow flowers that grow upright directly from the leaves (see Hike 25).
The trail drops off the bench land, crossing a gravel road at 1.4 miles. You continue downhill amid magnificent redwoods, turning left at a large log at 1.8 miles, and then, with another left turn, heading north. Here some very big burned snags stand starkly and darkly, like exclamation points on this page of the forest.
After switch backing downhill, you move through riparian woodland that includes salmonberry, California hazel, big leaf maple, and red alder. At 2.5 miles the trail meets the road you crossed earlier; turn right and follow it downhill to a junction with the Davison Trail. Here you commence a short side trip by turning right, following the trail until you reach the middle of the Prairie Creek Bridge.
A viewing platform has been built onto the left-hand side of the bridge; it guarantees good views of the creek below and offers the possibility of seeing the local elk herd. You now reverse course, turning right when you again meet the gravel road, following it back to the parking lot at 3.15 miles.