From The Redwoods To The Surf
The Ossagon Trail is a nice journey through a lush forest to the raging surf of the northern California coast. The trail head is directly across Newton P. Drury Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in an old growth redwood forest. Redwood National Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Creek Redwoods State Park and Jebediah Smith Redwoods State Park are all managed cooperatively by California State Parks and the National State Park Service.
The trail heads west on a gentle incline through more redwoods for about a 1/2 mile before descending steeply to the coast 750' and 1.5 miles below. The redwoods are replaced by small Douglas fir and Sitka spruce. I wasn't expecting the spruce, but it was an interesting change from the ever-present redwoods in these parks. The vegetation changes to riparian when it reaches Ossagon Creek about 1.25 miles in. There are a lot of elk in the general vicinity, and they like to graze on the lush stream side vegetation so be alert.
You reach the beach after 1.8 miles, and the sky opens up. The fir and spruce are stunted, and resemble Christmas trees that are 10' wide. This is also a good place to see elk because there's a little pond at the mouth of Ossagon Creek. I'm not sure if enough runoff from the creek's relatively small drainage allows the stream to punch through the sand all the way to the ocean about 300 yards west after wet weather.
It is a bit of a slog through the sand to the edge of the world, but the views both north and south more than make up for it. Huge rocks on land are paired with sea stacks in the frothing sea to the north while the afternoon fog can be seen rolling in to the south. All the while seabirds careen overhead and congregate in certain spots at surf's edge. It always pays to check out where the land meets the ocean, and this spot doesn't disappoint. This is a wild beach that sees very few people over the course of a year. Fishing is allowed with all of the required paperwork, but I don't think this area sees many hooks. I suppose one could go for a swim here, but it didn't look very safe. The beach drops sharply into the surf, and the large waves break awfully close to shore. There are also probably a lot of large sharks.
You may want to meander down the beach to the south before returning east and taking the coastal trail back to Ossagon. The Coastal Trail starts concurrently with the West Ridge Trail starting at the 1.8 mile mark on Ossagon. Be aware that many areas on the upper beach are closed off as habitat for the endangered western snowy plover.
Return the way you came after enjoying the beach.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.