The life-list worthy redwoods are reason enough to visit these combined national and state parks, but spring offers blooming skunk cabbage and swamp lantern, rushing mini-waterfalls, and nine kinds of ferns along with the world’s tallest trees. Explore the otherwordly coastal ecosystem on this moderate 15.7-mile shuttle hike, where you’ll wind through spruce, alder, and hemlock, and watch for wildlife like elk, black bear, and gray whales. From the Skunk Cabbage Trailhead, hike west 2.5 miles for sweeping Pacific views, then continue north on the Coastal Trail. When the trail ends at mile 6.3, follow a dirt road along the beach to the developed Golds Bluff Beach campground—veer right another 0.5 mile for the blufftop solitude of the Miners Ridge backcountry site. Head back to the beach the next morning and hike north to Fern Canyon, a verdant paradise with 30-foot walls covered in ancient greenery. (Note: Check with rangers to see if seasonal footbridges are in place.) Take the James Irvine Trail to the Clintonia Trail, then hike out on the Miners Ridge Trail to the Elk Prairie Campground.
Info: $3/person/night backcountry permit required. (707) 464-6101; nps.gov/redw
Hike provided by Johnny Russavage of Redwood Adventures. Info: redwoodadventures.com
Location: 41.3060531616211, -124.045593261719