Gold Bluffs & Prairie Creek Redwoods Loop

Orick, California

Details

Distance

20.19 miles

Elevation Gain

1759 ft

Route Type

Loop

Description

Added by Tobin Akehurst

This classic cycling loop is a great way to experience a variety of scenery and riding surfaces in The Prairie Creek Redwoods. It also allows you to visit Gold Bluffs Beach and the famous Fern Canyon without the otherwise required parking permit which needs to be acquired in advance. The route here is described in an anti-clockwise fashion but could be done in either direction.

Begin by parking at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center where you will find camping, water, bathrooms, and information. From there, head south on the Davidson Trail, a former roadbed-turned trail that will take you to an intersection with Davison Road. Turn right and begin a short but severe climb up a gravel road. After reaching the summit begin a thrilling descent towards the Ocean surf.

At this point you head due north along the coast on a well-groomed gravel road. When you reach Gold Bluffs Beach Campground (camping, water, bathrooms, information) this is your best opportunity to park your bikes and walk out to the beach, keep an eye out for whales and elk.

Continue on singletrack to Fern Canyon, where you can get off the bikes to explore a narrow and scenic canyon festooned with sword ferns. Don't be surprised if you have to get your feet wet in order to snap a nice photo.

At this point the nature of the route changes dramatically, the trail becomes indistinct, bumpy, brushy, and potentially even flooded, but for those who press on, the reward will be great. Pass 3 waterfalls on your way to the signed intersection with Ossagon Trail. Turn right (east) and climb a short but relentlessly steep trail until you emerge on The Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway.

This Scenic Parkway is the reward for all your hard work; 7 miles of smooth downhill pavement on one of the most idyllic stretches of road in North America. You will pass numerous opportunities to stop and walk on trails through the towering redwoods, including the world-class Cathedral Trees Trail.

You can turn right on Prarie Creek Road to return to your car.

The nearest gas, beer, and snacks can be found at one of the convenience stores 6 miles south in the town of Orick.

I recommend tires at least 40mm in width for this route.

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Features

Cycling
Chillin
Photography
Mountain Biking
Hiking
Bathrooms
Beach
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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