The Redwood forests of northern California seem magical, and the woods surrounding Damnation Creek are no exception. Nestled in the Del Norte State Park, this is a welcomed and beautiful bit of exercise, making a vacation up there go from special to extraordinary.
The Forest Service pamphlets, as well as a sign on the trail warn you about this trail being "Strenuous." People even carved additional warnings into the sign. They obviously haven't been to Arizona, This trail is along the lines of Fossil Springs near Strawberry, AZ, but not as difficult. But the nice part is the inaccurate description probably keeps many folks away, so you may have the place all to yourself. On the Friday we were there, we only saw two other couples. Signs in the area indicate there's snow in the winter, I wouldn't recommend this trail in snow.
The hike starts out as a gentle downslope in a thick grove of redwoods, making it difficult to watch where you're going (you're always looking up in awe of these giants). Don't forget to look around, the lush forest floor is just as beautiful. At the .7 mile mark, there's an intersection with the Coastal Trail, which looks to be an old FS road. At that point you'll see the warning sign and the trail does tend to get a bit steeper, and you lose the traffic noise from the nearby Highway 1. As you descend you may run into "the coastal layer", which varies from a light mist to pea-soup thick fog. In the mornings this makes for spectacular scenes with the sun shining through the mist. Around the 1.5 mile mark you begin to hear the crashing of the ocean waves drawing you to the beach (despite the thick fog). Once you hit the coast there's plenty of room to get away if there's other people there, and there's great tide pools to explore.
On the climb out you'll realize that it is indeed uphill all the way, and you can make it a good exercise if you keep up the pace. We only stopped once to drink some water and take in the scenery, and got our hearts pumping by the time we made it to the top.
A great hike, in awesome surroundings! - Aug 22 2010 paulhubbard