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California’s Redwood Coast
A writer returns to California’s redwoods to reestablish her roots – and to create new ones.
Lonely Planet’s travel experts scoured the States to bring you our top 10 underrated, rejuvenated and out-of-thisworld spots to visit in 2018. From natural wonders and captivating coastlines to up-and-coming cities, these destinations promise big things this year.
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We asked our experts for their insider perspectives on what makes these places great. Some recalled stories of their favorite visits, while others offered new reasons to return. Each of the stories that follow captures what’s special about this year’s picks – and why they’re the Best in the U.S.
By Alison Bing Like most Californians, I’m a transplant in soft earth – but the state’s redwoods keep us all grounded. The tall trees intertwine their surprisingly shallow roots, propping each other up through storms to reach great heights. In California no ground is more hallowed, no landmark more orienting, making the Redwood Coast the obvious place to marry and honeymoon. And so I did. My fiancé and I didn’t fix a date or a place for the wedding. Instead, we asked four of our loved ones to hike with us along the Redwood Coast over a long weekend, until we found a spot that inspired us. No one was surprised. Generations of seekers have sought out good vibes among California’s natural wonders. Hippies call it “vortex hunting.” The wedding party convened in Humboldt County’s seaside village of Trinidad, and we pulled out our hiking maps. One obvious destination is Trinidad State Beach, a weekend escape reached by Greyhound bus when my spouse and I started dating. The woods tumble downhill into a secluded sandy cove forgotten by time, where elders stack serpentine pebbles meditatively and teens update their relationship status with initials carved on driftwood. Passing hikers extend a hand in places where the steps have eroded, and point out views between wind-sculpted maritime pines. Locals can get cagey about campsites in marijuana-growing
Forest Bathing Here are five places to practice the Japanese-influenced art of destressing in the company of trees.
Humboldt County, but everyone knows a spot this special deserves to be shared. For prehistoric splendor, we head to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The only road into this coastal International Biosphere Reserve is so dusty with crushed shells that the shrubs lining it look like they’ve been cast in plaster. This eerie fossilized scenery ends in a sudden riot of color, as the 50-foot-high walls of Fern Canyon open into a mighty green yawn. We pay our respects to the Women’s Grove, a secluded Humboldt Redwoods State Park retreat just off redwood-lined Avenue of the Giants that’s graced with a hearth monument by architect Julia Morgan (of Hearst Castle fame). Founded during the Great Depression with $1 donations from 60,000 California women, this serene grove shows what can happen when we take our cue from the redwoods and pool our resources. Near the Oregon border, we obey the magnetic pull of old-growth groves at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Across from the visitor center is a grove of newly carbon-dated ancients that are likely the oldest redwoods on earth, and up the road, aptly named Stout Grove has some of the burliest. Stout Grove is far enough off the coastal highway that the only sounds we hear on the trail are our own muffled footsteps on the lush carpet of duff and redwood sorrel. We find our wedding site where we least expect it, in well-traveled Lady Bird Johnson Grove. Now it’s UNESCO-protected, but 60 years ago, savvy California conservationists recruited the first lady to protect these old-growth trees from the logging industry. Today a herd of Roosevelt elk bugle grand welcomes to the Redwood National Park. Golden light dapples the loop trail, where we pass kids posing for selfies inside trees hollowed by lightning. Elegant grandmothers in purple and teal silk saris nod our way as they brush past pink Pacific rhododendrons. We take it as a sign, step off the trail into a lightning-struck redwood, and exchange vows as the trees bear witness.
Muir Woods Urbanites cautiously dipping their toes in forest bathing may start here, just an hour from San Francisco. Avenue of the Giants This 31-mile stretch of old U.S. Highway 101 is flanked with redwoods and sun-dappled hiking trails. Lost Coast Follow rainbows along 24.7 miles of rugged coastal trails and sunsets with sea lions, but forest bathers who don’t want to get drenched should bear in mind that this area is the wettest spot in California. Redwood National & State Parks This network of parks protects 45 percent of the remaining old-growth redwoods in California.
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Look up at the forest canopy: that last 100 feet of redwood growth marks 50 years since Redwood National & State Parks were established, in California’s tree-hugging triumph over logging.
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The world's top travel brand discovers the world's tallest trees, and it's magic.