PERFECT DAY: Redwood National and State Parks, CA
Here's longtime ranger Jim Wheeler's plan for an eye-popping adventure among the ancients.
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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