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4 miles

Route Type



Added by John Maurizi

Explore a 19th century ranch with barn and bunkhouses. Beautiful prairie scenery in a seldom visited area of Redwood National Park.

This is really a dirt road that is gated off from Bald Hills Road. The trail head parking can fit about 6 cars but seldom do people venture out this way. After all, the attraction of Redwood National Park is the redwoods but this high prairie is definitely worth exploring.

The walk to the ranch is 2 miles in. It is an easy walk along a dirt road that weaves across prairie land and a few sections of wooded areas. About a half mile in the road splits. There is no trail marker at this point. The road to the right leads to a view point and the one on the left leads to the ranch.  

After 2 miles you reach a well preserved, intact barn and two small bunk houses. These must have been for the ranch hands. Lyons Ranch was known for raising sheep, not cattle. I spent about 45 minutes here exploring the barn and bunk houses. I had the place all to myself! It was a great experience. I felt I was back in the time when this ranch was active.

The barn and bunk houses are from the 19th century. Fortunately the park service keeps this barn unlocked so you are free to enter and explore a little. Everything here is an artifact so please leave it as you find it. Do not take anything. The barn has two levels with several entrances. I was surprised at how well the doors work and the main barn door slides open. This is a credit to the workmanship during that era.

The Lyons family house once stood in this area but no longer exists. The barn was used for sheering sheep and repairs of the farm during everyday life. This is a great slice of history that should be missed.

If you continue walking past the Lyons Ranch Barn you will see two small shacks built closely together. These are the ranch bunkhouses and kitchen where the ranch hands would sleep. The buildings are in excellent shape although they do show their age. The park service has again, left these buildings unlocked for you to explore. There are artifacts inside the building. Please leave everything as you find it. One shack has bed springs and a table while the other seemed to be more of a kitchen with a sink still present.

Back at the barn, you will see a trail cut through the tall grass leading down hill. It is about a 5 minute walk when you get to the end. Here you will find a small family cemetery with a single grave stone. The plot measures about 17 feet by 16 feet and is enclosed by a wire fence. On the grave stone is carved "Julius Lyons 1878-1895." Julius was the last born of John Lyons, who built the farm. Looking at the area and where this plot sits, it must have been a great view of the valley below over 100 years ago.

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this ranch.  Fortunate that I was the only one here during my time but I had a bit of excitement on the way out.  About a half mile from the ranch walking out, I encounter a bear cub about 20 feet off the road.  It scurried off into the brush.  I didn't think much off it until I looked to my left, opposite from where the cub was, to see a figure on an open field hill.  I thought it was an Elk but soon realized it was the mother of the cub!  

When you first see a bear in the wilderness, for me at least, it is a wonder and joy to observe. If at a distance of course. I took few pictures, maybe 30 seconds, before the mother spotted me and ran down the hill in my direction!

I quickly walk away, down the road as the mother bear disappeared into the tall prairie grass.  I kept my pace steady but not running.  I was lucky I left the ranch when I did.  Any later and my bear encounter may have been much different.

To get to the trailhead, drive north on 101 past Kuchel Visitor Center.  Turn right on Bald Hills road.  This road climbs steadily and will eventually lead out of the forest and into the prairie.  The trailhead is marked with signage on the right side of Bald Hills Road.

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