Hiking the Trillium Falls trail at Redwood National Park in California

After a few days spent devoting myself to the salty coast while winding up the 101 in California, my three-person van crew decided to trade sandy shorelines for towering trees with a trip to Redwood National Park. I was surprised to learn that this park is actually spread out along the 101, and there is no fee to enter – so there’s no excuse not to visit Redwood National Park if you’re passing through!

Towering trees line the Trillium Falls Trail at Redwood National Park in California.We began our visit with a stop at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, which sits right along the coast. It doesn’t seem like your regular National Parks visitor center, but it’s a great place to begin your redwood adventure. While I was chatting with a ranger about the best trail for spotting banana slugs, we spotted a late-season gray whale breaching just off the shore, incredible.

Just a few minutes up the road, and I had my next wildlife encounter: a field full of grazing elk families welcomed us into the appropriately named Elk Meadows trailhead area. I could have gladly sat and watched the creatures munch on grass all day, but our sights were set on the Trillium Falls Trail, a 2.5 mile loop through misted corridors of old and young redwood trees.

The journey begins with a rather unceremonious diversion from a wide paved path onto a narrow dirt trail that quickly winds up a small hill into the thickets. Suddenly, you find yourself immersed in a moist wonderland filled with ferns, banana slugs, and tasty salmonberries.My favorite creature in Redwood National Park: the banana slug.

Winding through the redwoods for about ¾ of a mile leads you to a small bridge perched above the trail’s namesake falls. Only about 10 feet tall, the waterfalls themselves aren’t the star of this area: it’s the ecosystem thriving here that will capture your attention.

The first mile of the hike took us over an hour; we were constantly snapping photos and capturing audio from birds, rustling branches, and babbling water. The Trillium Falls trail certainly isn’t meant to test your limits as a hiker, but it will gladly introduce you to a world of wonderment that promises to break your stride every few steps with something new to stop and look at. The small waterfall seen on the Trillium Falls trail at Redwood National Park. DSC_3667

The remainder of the trail is less impressive than the first segment, but the pleasantries are plentiful as you complete the loop through younger forest, across an old logging road, and back to the paved path that leads to the parking lot. The Trillium Falls trail at Redwood National Park was by no means a strenuous excursion, but it was a beautiful jaunt into the redwoods during my adventure up the Pacific coast.

If I wasn’t on such a pressing mission to make my way from Half Moon Bay, CA to Seattle, WA, I would have gladly spent much more time at Redwood National Park. The sprawling geography of the park invites visitors to experience everything from seaside excursions along tide pools and piles of driftwood to hiking deep within the heart of redwood forests.

Reinvigorating my appetite for adventure in the Pacific Northwest

Confession: Lately, I haven’t been loving the adventure. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling constantly rushed, dirty beyond my usual threshold, overwhelmed and frustrated by my inability to stay connected while traveling, and worst of all – I just don’t even have a strong desire to climb. It’s been like living in opposite day, for days on end. 

After five months of blissfully living on the road, I really can’t be too surprised that I’ve hit a mental roadblock in my road trip attitude, but it certainly wasn’t very pleasant. Thankfully, I was able to take a quick break from the adventure to spend a weekend with my family in New York City for my cousin’s wedding, and when I returned back to San Francisco (and my big yellow van), everything changed. 

One of our closest friends, Mcgoo, decided to take a much-needed break from his daily life to join us for two weeks of adventuring in the Pacific Northwest. He had never seen the Pacific Ocean before, so to make it a trip to truly remember, we decided to travel up US-1 and the 101 from Half Moon Bay to Seattle. Epic.
Niko and I enjoying our first sunset on the Pacific Ocean during our latest Simply Adventure journey.

The journey began with a pitstop in Sunny Vale for a dinner party hosted by Russ Beebe. Aside from the incredible homemade fare and mint juleps, he delighted me with a surprise appearance from one of my favorite ladies in the outdoor industry, Amy Jurries of TheGearcaster.com. I also got to meet one of the lovely ladies from the new Omniten crew, along with Rebecca from the original Omniten, and my Overland Expo pal, David Croyle. It was a splendid night, and the perfect way to toast the beginning of a new adventure.

We officially began the coastal adventure the next day with a pitstop to feast on my favorite burrito in the entire world at Tres Amigos in Half Moon Bay, CA – conveniently located right on the 1. After the monumental lunchtime gorging, we walked down the road to the coast, where Mcgoo finally touched the Pacific for the first time. Then we promptly loaded up in the van, and hauled north along the slow, winding shoreline.

Not a bad place to spend the day.Since our first day, we’ve traveled over the Golden Gate Bridge, past rolling hillsides teeming with cows, along steep clifflines, and through thickets of redwoods. I’ve still been struggling to find connectivity during our remote adventuring, but the scenery has offered great solace from my woes. It’s hard to gripe about e-mails when you’re hiking past banana slugs in Redwood National Park, or searching for starfish in tide pools.

As we continue on towards Portland, the connectivity promises to improve, and with a freshly charged computer I’ll be able to catch up on all the writing I’ve held hostage in my mind. I’m still a bit weary about all the catching up I feel like I need to do, but at the end of the day, I continue to remind myself of where I am, and what I’m doing. Not being able to update my blog as much as I’d like to is really quite a small price to pay for the experience of spending a year traveling around the United States in my big beautiful van.