When Jurassic Park: The Lost World filmmakers needed a primordial back-drop for their dinosaurs, they headed straight for Redwood National and State Parks, where the scenery is out of another eon: head-high ferns, trees 25 stories tall, and spongy earth so fertile it seems to sprout moss and mushrooms before your eyes.
Two terrific treks worth trying are the 17-mile hike along Redwood Creek to Tall Trees Grove and, for greater diversity, the 18-mile loop incorporating the James Irvine and West Ridge Trails. You'll discover giant redwoods as well as fern grottos and secluded beaches.
Whichever hike you choose, spend time in a redwood grove soaking up the heady essence of 2,000-year-old trees. But resist the temptation to stop every time you see the biggest tree ever. Otherwise, you'll never get anywhere.
Where: 310 miles north of San Francisco. The turnoff for Redwood Creek trailhead is less than 1 mile north of Orick on US 101. West Ridge trailhead is 6 miles north of Orick in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Maps:Redwood National Park ($9.95, Trails Illustrated, 800-962-1643).
Trail Info: Redwood National and State Parks, (707) 464-6101.