West Ridge Loop, Prairie Creek Visitor Center, Redwood National and State Parks, California
West Ridge Loop - 12.8 miles
Prairie Creek Visitor Center
|Round-Trip Length:||12.8 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||165' - 911' (911' max elevation on loop)|
|Elevation Change:||746' net elevation gain (+2,278' total elevation gain)|
West Ridge Loop - 12.8 Miles Round-Trip
The West Ridge Trail joins the Friendship Ridge and James Irvine trails on a 12.8 mile loop through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The West Ridge Trail runs 5.5 miles across high, redwood-studded slopes and ridges to the Friendship Ridge Trail.
Friendship Ridge turns south on a shifting 2.6 mile course to the James Irvine Trail. James Irvine leads 4.75 miles back to Prairie Creek VC through some of the Park's most impressive redwood stands.
The West Ridge Loop is among the longest and most challenging routes in Redwood National Park. Anticipate up-down sections all the way through, and more rugged conditions on lightly traveled West Ridge and Friendship Ridge segments:
The trail begins at Prairie Creek Visitor Center and crosses Prairie Creek to the West Ridge Trail (.15 miles). The West Ridge Trail turns sharply up steep, tightly wound switchbacks to gain the ridge (.8 miles : 540') and begins a long series of mild-moderate undulations along its redwood covered spine.
The trail toggles from side to side with good views down each slope (1.5 miles : 670'). It crests at 755' and drops to the first of two connections with the Zig Zag Trail (2.4 miles : 710'). Note large hemlock and fir at these higher, more inclusive elevations.
The trail undulates with brief respites to the second Zig Zag Trail split (3.9 miles : 770'). You'll pass a spur leading into the Fagan and Laird groves (4.15 miles) and through a particularly nice stretch of redwoods before abruptly transitioning to cluttered 2nd growth mixed with fir, hemlock and spruce (4.8 miles).
It weaves through this brushy, unkempt forest to the Friendship Ridge Trail (5.5 miles : 810'), which turns south on a fast, winding descent back into structured old growth (6.25 miles : 495'). Grades moderate and undulate through 6.9 miles with little net loss.
The ocean may be audible as you near the coast on twisting up-down intervals (7.75 miles : 530'). The trail drops sharply one last time into a coastal forest to the James Irvine Trail split (8.1 miles : 225'). Note the predominance of Sitka spruce in this area.
James Irvine turns SE and levels beside Home Creek through leafy brush with good berry picking (8.7 miles). It crosses the last of 4 bridges in this coastal forest (9.25 miles) and begins a rugged climb back into redwoods to the Clintonia Trail split (9.5 miles : 360').
Travel moderates and dips through some of the Park's oldest redwoods to a bridge across a low point near Godwood Creek (10.6 miles : 305'). The trail climbs steadily back then drops again to the Miners Ridge Trail split (11.98 miles : 420') and Prairie Creek Visitor Center to complete the loop (12.8 miles : 165').
- N41 21.849 W124 01.369 — 0.0 miles : Prairie Creek Visitor Center
- N41 21.931 W124 01.382 — .15 miles : West Ridge Trail split
- N41 22.082 W124 01.276 — .5 miles : Steep, twisting climb
- N41 22.573 W124 01.210 — 1.2 miles : Steep twisting climb
- N41 22.812 W124 01.397 — 1.5 miles : Steep twisting climb
- N41 23.224 W124 01.544 — 2.0 miles : Undulate along ridge
- N41 23.379 W124 01.634 — 2.4 miles : Zig Zag Trail split #1
- N41 23.750 W124 02.007 — 3.0 miles : Undulate along ridge
- N41 24.089 W124 02.199 — 3.5 miles : Undulate along ridge
- N41 24.308 W124 02.146 — 3.9 miles : Zig Zag Trail split #2
- N41 24.486 W124 02.315 — 4.15 miles : Fagan-Laird Grove spur
- N41 24.753 W124 02.519 — 4.6 miles : Nice stretch of redwoods
- N41 25.196 W124 02.781 — 5.25 miles : Mixed forest composition
- N41 25.420 W124 02.963 — 5.6 miles : Friendship Ridge Trail split
- N41 25.209 W124 03.024 — 6.35 miles : Wind through big redwoods
- N41 24.957 W124 03.175 — 6.9 miles : Grades moderate
- N41 24.545 W124 03.257 — 7.75 miles : Mild-moderate up-down intervals
- N41 24.149 W124 03.343 — 8.4 miles : James Irvine Trail split
- N41 24.156 W124 03.282 — 8.45 miles : Cross bridge
- N41 23.819 W124 03.245 — 8.93 miles : Cross bridge
- N41 23.728 W124 03.167 — 9.23 miles : Cross bridge
- N41 23.480 W124 03.020 — 9.25 miles : Cross bridge
- N41 23.274 W124 02.882 — 9.5 miles : Clintonia Trail split
- N41 22.983 W124 02.507 — 10.1 miles : Steady climb
- N41 22.649 W124 02.231 — 10.6 miles : Cross long bridge
- N41 22.489 W124 02.156 — 11.0 miles : Steady climb from bridge
- N41 22.369 W124 01.974 — 11.5 miles : Drop through tall old growth
- N41 22.186 W124 01.682 — 11.98 miles : James Irvine - Miners Trail split
- N41 21.932 W124 01.438 — 12.58 miles : James Irvine Trail split
Camping and Backpacking Information
There's a $35 per-night fee to camp in developed campgrounds. Cabins at Elk Prairie and Jedediah Smith are $80 (winter) and $100 (summer) per night.
Reservations are strongly recommended from May - September in all campgrounds. Click links above to learn more about each campground and check availability through ReserveAmerica.com (1.800.444.7275).
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Permits are free and issued in-person up to 24 hours in advance at the Hiouchi and Kuchel Visitor Centers.
- There are 8 designated backcountry sites. Gravel bar camping is permitted along Redwood Creek. Click here for specific site details and maps.
- Fires are permitted in the backcountry with potential seasonal and location-specific restrictions.
- Proper food storage is required (in provided lockers, bear canisters or by hanging).
- Overnight stays are limited to 5 consecutive days.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking and riding trails in Redwood National Park, including trails within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
- There is no fee to enter Redwood National Park or access trails at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.
- Day-Use Fees apply at select State Park entrance stations within Redwood National Park, including Gold Bluffs Beach ($8).
Directions to Trailhead
Prairie Creek State Park is located on Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway off Highway 101, approximately 50 miles north of Eureka, 5 miles north of Orick and 25 miles south of Crescent City.
The Prairie Creek Visitor Center is located on the southern end of the Parkway, 1.3 miles from Exit 753 on Highway 101. Follow signs from the exit to the visitor center and parking lot.
Redwood National and State Parks
1111 Second Steet
Crescent City, CA 95531
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
127011 Newton B Drury Parkway
Orick, CA 95555
Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center (Orick, CA)
Jedediah Smith Visitor Center (Hiouchi, CA)
Hiouchi Visitor Center (Hiouchi, CA)
Crescent City Information Center