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Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
3.20 mi (5.15 km)
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One of Del Norte County's overlooked hiking gems, the Damnation Creek Trail offers visitors solitude among magnificent virgin coast redwoods and a scenic pathway to a nearly inaccessible stretch of rugged coastline. Located in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park 8 miles south of Crescent City, the trail meanders through massive old-growth redwoods before plunging 1,000 feet to open up on Damnation Cove and the Pacific Ocean.

The Damnation Creek Trail begins on the ocean side of Highway 101 at a pullout located at mile marker 16. Towering over the upper section of the trail, giant old-growth redwoods comprise the majority of this flatter section of forest. These trees are comparable in size to the larger trees seen throughout Redwood State and National Parks. Around the half mile mark, the Damnation Creek Trail crosses the Coastal Trail, and the redwoods, lacking stable terrain on the steep slope, become smaller and give way to Douglas fir and Sitka spruce as the trail drops down to the coast. The hillside trail eventually crosses Damnation Creek before emerging on a small bluff that overlooks Damnation Cove and the Pacific Ocean. A short trail continues down onto the rocky beach, but beware of high tide and large ocean swells if you are venturing down to the cove.

Damnation Creek seems to attract fewer visitors than the better known redwood hikes in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, a few miles to the north. This is likely a result of its slightly hidden trailhead location and the notoriously steep descent and return ascent. The hike is well worth the effort, however, and despite the change in elevation, the trail is not as strenuous as one might think. Switchbacks make for relatively easy hiking, and the majority of the elevation drop is spread over a manageable 1.5-mile slope above Damnation Creek. 

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Few people. Massive old-growth redwoods. Beautiful beach.

Cons

Steep, strenuous hike.

Trailhead Elevation

985.00 ft (300.23 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)

Features

Whale watching
Wildlife
Old-growth forest

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Redwoods + Del Norte Coast, California
Redwoods + Del Norte Coast, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

07/13/2017
A really great trail. Huge old growth redwoods, on such steep hillsides you get to see the tops of a lot of the trees, and it is unique compared to the other flat redwood trails we hiked. A sign at one
point says the bridge over a stream is down but it is fine, just a little wobbly, we went one at a time. I saw some kids had hiked it wearing gym shoes, I would recommend hiking boots. Some of the trail is only about two feet wide with a long drop, I'm glad mine had really good grip. the climb back up was tough, We needed a few breaks on the way.
05/08/2016
Lucked out with an amazing evening for a hike down the Damnation Creek Trail. The light beams in the evening are just amazing on this trail. We were treated to a fantastic sunset and then it was time to high tail it back up to the cars!
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