Hike the James Irvine Miner's Ridge Loop, Redwood National Forest

James Irvine Miners Ridge Loop Trail

If you are wanting to make the most of your time in the Redwood Forest, this 12 mile trail is the perfect loop to see every amazing feature this national park has to offer!

What is known as the "James Irvine Miner's Ridge Loop" is actually a combination of trails that creates a loop in the Redwood Forest. For only being around 12 miles round trip, it is an easy way to see the diverse scenery in one hike. 

In a nutshell, on this hike you get some of the best features: Huge redwoods, just enough incline, rivers, the pacific ocean, mountain views, well maintained trails, easy to navigate, quiet, and breathtaking!

Starting at the Prairie Creek State Park visitors station, there is plenty of parking where the trailhead is only a few feet away. Stopping in at the visitor center is a smart idea, rangers and workers can outline a map for you and ensure you are fully prepared for your hike. 

Just a few feet into the trail, which starts right at the visitor center, and you are able to see some of the largest redwoods the trail has to offer. Starting around 9 am, I was able to see the sparkling rays of sunshine that reached the forest floor, which gave it an enchanted feeling, so to speak. Just a further bit down is the intersection of the Miner's Ridge Trail and the James Irvine Trail. You can start going either direction since it is a loop, and I decided to start in the direction of the James Irvine Trail. Slowly the trees start to get skinnier, yet remain just as tall, it seems. The first thing I noticed was how eerily quiet and still it was. Occasionally I could feel a breezy spot, but otherwise not even the leaves made a move. This hike was very healing as it was so peaceful and quiet that I was able to do a lot of thinking and reflecting unlike I have been able to do anywhere else. As the trail goes on it winds over and around a few of the rivers in the forest, where it offers a change of scenery with different flora and fauna. 

After walking 6 miles in the forest I distinctly remember the moment when the smell of the ocean caught the breeze just right and I could smell it. Walking a few more feet, If I strained my ears I could hear the ocean. Walking further the trees get smaller and you can begin to the see the sky again; you have made it to Fern Canyon. Only a short distance then you arrive to a road where there is picnic benches and restrooms. You'll be ready to take a rest and a potty break! 

Just past this rest area, behind the large brush, is Gold Bluffs Beach. It was suggested to me by the rangers to walk along the gravel road until I hit the Miner's Ridge trail, rather than on the beach. Taking in account my love for the pacific ocean, I decided to walk along the beach. Not the smartest idea. The beach lies so far off the road that you cannot tell when you have arrived to the Miner's Ridge trail entrance. Also, being about a mile walk in the sand, my hiking boots started to rub my heels. Walking that long in sand was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be! I ended up cutting back across to the gravel road about halfway down so that I would be able to easily identify where I was to get back on the Miner's Ridge Trail. Needless to say, listen to the advice the rangers give you! 

In my opinion, the hike back to the visitor center was easier to navigate and less of an incline. Some parts of the trail narrows but overall it is an extremely well maintained trail. On the 6 miles back you also see more of a variety of trees. You will be able to tell that you are making your way closer to the trailhead when the trees start growing thicker and more dense. When you make your way back out into the clearing you have the opportunity to stop by the visitor shop. I know you will be tired, but check it out! There is great post cards, stickers, posters, mugs, hats, shirts, books, and more. 

Overall this loop took me a little less than 6 hours, including stopping I don't know how many times to take photos and sit to eat lunch at the halfway point. Despite how wonderful and amazing it was, I made a huge mistake. Instead of wearing my trusty hiking boots, I decided to wear my *new* hiking boots. I will make this short and sweet, after about 7 miles I had blisters, winced with every step, and by the time I made it back to my car, my socks were covered in blood. The good news, the trail was so beautiful and captivating I didn't even notice how bad my feet were. 

This remains one of my favorite hikes to date!

Pack List

  • Trusty hiking boots (waterproof shoes at least since this loop goes to the beach!)
  • Dress in layers, the temperature ranges as you go through the forest, to the beach, and back. 
  • WATER 
  • Light lunch
  • Basic First Aid kit 
  • Trail Map
Show More
RT Distance 12 Miles
Elevation Gain 1350 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Easy Parking
Forest
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful hike, but see important update below!

My husband and I planned on completing this loop, but unfortunately part of it is disrupted. We camped at Gold Bluffs Beach campground to have easy access to this hike. We planned on starting at a different point of the loop, near Gold Bluffs beach and Fern Canyon. However, the road leading to the trail was damaged by a rock slide. No cars could go through, but you could still walk through to a different point of the Miner's Ridge trail. We ended up going up through here and then going over to Fern Canyon, which is now fairly abandoned due to the rock slide. The bathrooms are no longer maintained, and some of the bridges have been washed away. We had to walk through water above our ankles just to get over to what used to be the parking lot. We then hiked along the beach to get back to our campsite. In order to complete this loop, you would have to walk along the beach instead of the gravel pathway and then cut back after the rock slide. Despite being a little crazy trying to find a path around the rock slide, overall it was a beautiful hike. There was hardly anyone on the trail when we went in late May. The Redwoods were stunning and everything was green and peaceful. The trail was pretty easy, with minimal elevation gain. There were a few spots where trees had fallen and you either had to climb over them or find a way around them, which made it a little tricky.


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