Camp at Nickel Creek

5 miles 300 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by John Chau

Amazing free beach camping in a remote backcountry campsite makes this place totally dope. Plus, it's the northern coastal part of the Redwoods National and State Parks (hence the free camping) and only 5 miles roundtrip. The sunsets are superb and the black bears are abundant. Tide pools, beautiful swells, and a unique natural bridge make this place the perfect place to camp at on the Northern California coast.

First, check in at the Crescent City Ranger Information Center in Crescent City to pick up your free backcountry permit and get permission to park your car at the Crescent City Beach Education Center off of Enderts Beach Road. This is the safest place to park at due to numerous car break-ins at the Crescent City Beach Overlook parking lot since it is gated and operated by park rangers. This does add 2 miles of hiking along the coastline, but offers the peace of mind that your car won't be broken into! Alternatively, you can park at the Crescent Beach Overlook and hike the .5 miles to the campsite.

From the CBEC, hike south along the Coastal Trail through light coastal forests with numerous signs of Roosevelt elk (their tracks are usually always tearing up the trail) and black bear (look for claw marks on trees), cross the road and continue following the path. It's fairly well-maintained, but if you see any trash, please pick it up and pack it out!

You'll have to hike a few hundred feet along the road as the Coastal Trail reconnects with Enderts Beach Road and climbs uphill toward the beach overlook. Check out the view from the overlook and then head back south onto the Coastal Trail as it winds its way along the cliffside overlooking the ocean. Hike through the krummholz groves (flag-shaped trees from the coastal winds) and before long (about .5 miles), you'll have reached the Nickel Creek Backcountry Campsite. Find a spot (the one in the back, closest to the beach offers the best view). Build a fire in the firepit, use the site's bear lockers for your food storage, and head down to the beach to watch the sunset.

Note:
  • More details about the Nickel Creek Backcountry Site can be found on the Backcountry Trip Planner
  • Be aware that the undertow caused by Nickel Creek joining the Pacific can be quite strong. If you get caught in it, swim north, parallel to the shore until you are out of it. Swimming is not recommended here!
  • Go in the "off-season" if you want to have the whole place to yourself. Usually late fall-late winter is when no one seems to be out there, most likely because it's often stormy. Hint: For a weekend trip, try going on a Friday when it's predicted to rain. Chances are, no one else will be there! Just bring the right gear.
  • Stay away from the cliff ledges because they are prone to collapse under your bodyweight, dropping you several hundred feet to the rocks and water below.
Read More

Tags

Chillin
Camping
Fishing
Photography
Bodysurfing
Running
Surfing
Backpacking
Hiking
Beach
Easy Parking
Forest
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

🥈 Contributor

11 days ago

Wonderful coastal town

Crescent City offers the traveler much to see with the Redwoods to the south, plentiful beaches to explore and the pier to stroll. The area, though, can be secluded so taking advise on parking and trekking solo is important.

Explorer

🥈 Contributor

over 4 years ago

Not Dog Friendly

Just a reminder to those folks who enjoy camping with their dogs: this is not a dog friendly site, nor is the beach below it. This part of the park is most active for mountain lions, so take care when moving about around dawn or dusk. The coastal trail connects from this spot, and after a brutal climb connects to a beautiful section and the now decommissioned section of Hwy 101.

Stay Nearby

Crescent City, California

Crescent City / Redwoods Koa

Gasquet, California

Panther Flat Campground

Overview Panther Flat Campground sits in the vast Six Rivers National Forest in northern California. This shady, secluded campground is just steps from the Smith River, which is famous for its brig...

Brookings, Oregon

Ludlum House

Overview The Ludlum House is situated at the base of a mixed-conifer forest at the confluence of Wheeler Creek and the Winchuck River in southwestern Oregon, offering guests a unique setting for re...

Orick, California

Lady Bird Loft

Come and have breakfast with the elk at Elk Meadow Cabins. Watch elk graze right from your cabin window or stroll out to the meadow with a cup of coffee to see the majestic Roosevelt Elk up close. ...

From $259/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Explore Stout Grove via the Howland Hill Road

    The Howland Hill Road is the premier drive through Redwood National and State Parks. Approximately 6 miles long, the hard-packed gravel road varies in surface durability depending on season and when the road was last graded. Expect plenty of dust ...

  • Hike the Boy Scout Tree Trail

    With a profusion of titanic trees and an ever expanding landscape, the extraordinary Boy Scout Tree Trail is not so much a hike as it is a showcase of the world's most scenic old growth redwoods. Located within Redwood National and State Parks, th...

  • Camp at Jedediah Smith Redwoods Campground

    Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park offers activities for everyone: you can backpack and hike through lush rainforests, or fish, snorkel, and kayak in the Smith River (popular film The Last of the Mohicans was filmed just upstream!). Howland Hill R...

    0 ft gain

  • Hike Stout Grove via the Stout Grove Trailhead

    Marked with adequate signage, parking for the Stout Grove Trailhead is off Highland Hill Road, a road through the south end of the park. It's a narrow, dirt road so be cautious traveling through the state park. Pit toilets are available in the par...

    0.6 miles