Best Trails for Running
The focus here is on easy-to-moderate trails. Note that some of the trails can get crowded, so best to go early or off-peak. We’ve avoided the ‘short walks’ because they’re all under two miles and can be crowded. See the Visitor Guide for detailed directions. Information on the the less crowded, backcountry trails is here.
Prairie Creek Visitor Center Area. Some good running here. Easier is Prairie Creek/Foothills, a 2.5 mile level loop through prairie/grasslands. Can combine with Brown Creek Trail through lovely redwoods, (2 miles out and back), 2 miles from the Visitor Ctr. off Drury Scenic Parkway. For more moderate trail running, can choose a section of the James Irvine and Fern Canyon trails. Avoid the steeper Friendship Ridge, Clintonia, and Miners Ridge trails.
Trillium Falls Trail. 2.75 mile loop, moderate. Old-growth redwoods, Trillium Falls, Roosevelt Elk. From Elk Meadow Day Use area. Can combine with Bald Hills Rd. scenic road.
Boy Scout Tree Trail. 5.5 miles out and back. Moderate trail with good surface featuring old-growth redwoods, riparian corridor, Fern Falls. Can combine with a section of the 10-mile Howkland Hill Rd.
Coastal Trail. Up to 13 miles out and back. Beautiful coastal trail. Best section for running is from Milepost 16 (intersection with Damnation Creek Trail) headed south.
Trinidad Beach Loop. 5 miles, 489 foot gain. A gorgeous trail run here: do a 1-mile loop around Trinidad Head, then run north on Trinidad State Beach for 0.5 miles, then north for 1.5 miles on the unnamed coastal trail to Elk Head. Gorgeous water views. ROUTE MAP
There’s some terrific beach running in the area. Some favorite sections, featuring miles of beach and a firm surface are in the Crescent Beach/Enderts Beach area; Little River State Beach (3 miles of firm, flat sand) just south of Trinidad, and nice section of beach adjacent to Freshwater Lagoon. Just south of Kalmath, some lovely running on Gold Bluffs Beach.
Note: beach running ‘quality’ is highly situational and can vary. More reliable in summer.
Best Roads for Running
Note that in summer, the dirt/gravel roads can get dusty. Best to go early when the dew holds in the moisture.
Howland Hill Rd. Near Crescent City. 10 miles of paved & unpaved road, featuring old-growth redwoods. Note: No shoulder, but speed limit is only 15 mph. Can be dusty in summer.
Newton B, Drury Scenic Parkway. Scenic, paved road goes for 10 miles from Elk Prairie Campground north through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to Exit 763 off Highway 101. It’s an old highway and the speed limit is 40 mph so it’s not that safe for running. The 1.5 miles south of Prairie Creek Visitor Center is more open and has a wide shoulder. Note: narrow shoulder north of Prairie Creek. Closed to cars the first Saturday of the month, November-May.
Bald Hills Rd. 17-mile road between Orick and Waseck. The recommended section for running is through gorgeous, open prairie. From the Lyons Ranch Parking lot, it’s 5 miles to west to Eagle Ridge Rd., where the road starts to get more forested. Can also continue for several miles east of the parking lot. Lots of up and down but not too steep in this section. ROUTE MAP
Coastal Drive. Near Kalmath. Some nice sections along the coast, especially north of Radar Station B-71.
Davison Rd. From Elk Meadows picnic area, this is a narrow, wooded road with some steep sections.