There are 3 kinds of Redwood trees; Dawn Redwoods which are crazy old but smallish, from dinosaur times, and still exists in remote China; the Giant Sequioa which can be 3,000 years old and the largest around maxing in at 30 ft diameter; and the Coast Redwoods which are the tallest trees in the worlds, and still quite old at 2,000 years.

We came to far Northern California to see these last – tallest – trees, and they just blew us away. As we drove the final pass up over the coastal mountain range, it was like driving back in time as we gawked at the trees.

Our first stop was the Redwood National Park visitor center at Hiouchi to snag a backpacking permit and pass to the Tall Trees grove. This special area has some of the very oldest trees in the park. The drive out to it is long, windy, uphill, and half on a nice dirt road.

Bryan and Avi hiked down into the valley. They played in the trees – many have been hollowed in the center from the fires of centuries past, but are still actively growing from there strong outer portions. There were tree caves, and tree tunnels, trees so tall it’s only possible to photo them with a panorama function.

Their backpacking permit was for a dispersed site along the Redwood Creek gravel bars, outside the grove. An ideal spot just north (downstream) from the grove had a sandy patch and access to thousands of perfect skipping stones. So that is what they did all evening: skipped stones and played Uno. Avi is now a pro skipper like his dad!

Zoe and spent the day hiking the Trillium trail through some more impressively massive Redwoods and past a little waterfall. One tree was so huge and hollowed out that, once inside, it was larger than a gold-seeker shack. It was also hollowed the entire way up the trunk so we could see daylight out of a perfect circle hundreds of feet above us.

We then went to the beach with Slim Jim the dog late into the evening. Slim ran around like a nutcase; this is the first he’s ever seen a beach or so much water and he is loving the sand but not so much the surf. Zoe spent her time building castles and watching the ocean devour them.

The previous day, after getting the backpacking permits, we spent all day driving south through the parks – Redwood National Park is really made up of two state parks and a national section. We stopped often for a walk about about pictures- along the Druty parkway is especially full of trails and huge trees. We walked the Big Tree Loop and saw the elk at Prairie creek.

Our big adventure for the afternoon was biking a loop from the Elk Meadow picnic area – it started quite nicely along an old dirt road which was, perhaps, the original coastal road. Then it turned up the hill and slowly narrowed to a single track in need of a trail trim. When we came out of that scrub (tough on my street cruiser, but easy for the kids on their bikes) we found ourselves faced with a long uphill climb on a nice graded dirt road. It was a slog, however, the speed race down the backside to the parking was super fun and worth it.

We stayed two nights at the Elk Country RV Park – a private campground, since all the park sites were full. It was fine, and we did enjoy watching the little resident otter swim around the pond. That first evening, the kids still had energy to burn, so I walked with them the mile or so across the road and down to the nearest beach. Once everyone was sufficiently wet and cold, we returned and appreciated our full hookup and super hot showers.

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