Features: River/Creek — Views — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
If you can push through the first steep climb, the rest of this rolling trail is a great place to run.
This portion of the Coastal Trail travels along some of the most dramatic landscapes in the park. Beginning at the northern trailhead not far from Enderts Beach
, this trail winds its way south along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You'll enjoy being able to admire the rugged coast, and navigating in the trace of the old coast highway is a cheap thrill.
The trail starts out with a gentle descent to Enderts Beach
. Though this stop is early in the trail, a detour is well worthwhile. There are plenty of tide pools to admire, and you'll be able to appreciate the diversity of Northern California's coasts from this point.
Once you've admired the beach, prepare for a steep climb as the trail continues south. You'll be following along the road cut from the old coast highway, and you'll be able to see your destination as the trail winds up the oceanside bluffs. Steep but short, this section provides incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, and you'll reach the top of the bluffs after about a mile of running. From there, you'll be following the mostly rolling top of the bluffs. Though you'll still enjoy plenty of Pacific views, you'll now find yourself wandering among the redwood forests this area is famous for.
Take your time to admire the lushness of the flora here, as well as the biodiversity. Huge redwoods, hemlock, and Douglas fir will shade your way, and large ferns make up the understory. In season, keep an eye out for huckleberry lining the trail, which make for an excellent trail-side snack. You may even see a few enormous banana slugs, as they make their way through the trees and underbrush.
After a few shady miles, you'll cross an intersection with the Damnation Creek Trail
. This is another worthwhile detour, as the trail heads back down to the beach, where more abundant views and a different perspective of the cliffs can be had. Once you're back on the Coastal Trail, you'll have a short ways before coming to the end of the trail. Once you've reached the Redwood Highway, you can either end your journey here, or continue onto the next section, the Coastal Trail: Middle
Visitors will be able to observe most of the different terrain types and ecosystems from this trail. From enjoying ocean-side views, whale-watching, and tide pools, to admiring soaring redwoods, and lush ferns.