PERFECT DAY: Redwood National and State Parks, CA

Here's longtime ranger Jim Wheeler's plan for an eye-popping adventure among the ancients.

9:25 Pull over at Redwood Creek Overlook for canyon views; drive to the Tall Trees Grove trailhead

9:44 Walk 1.4 miles past blooming California toothwort under an old-growth canopy

10:23 Strap on Tevas beside 360-foot giants for a soggy 3.5-mile off-trail hike along Redwood Creek toward Rocky Gap (10S 0414823E 4562363N)

10:54 Watch for river otters playing offshore a mile upstream

12:30 Eat lunch on a gravel bar beneath Solitude Grove, a little-known redwood stand

1:55 Scramble and swim in Rocky Gap, a mile-long gorge of sandstone boulders and cascading pools (10S 0419291E 4559635N)

3:36 Backtrack to the Emerald Ridge Trail junction and pull on dry socks for the hike back