Redwood National Park Trail Spotlight: Simpson-Reed Hiking Trail in Crescent City, California

An Easy Hike with “Breathtakingly Big Redwoods” to See Along the Trail

The Simpson-Reed hiking trail and redwood grove is the perfect short stroll with plenty of hero California redwood views. This hiking and walking trail is good for families with smalls kids and those who want to sneak in a quick hike through the Redwoods National Park without taking up a whole afternoon.

First of all there’s the location, just three miles of curving through the redwoods on Highway 199 east of its junction with Highway 101. It’s about a 15-minute drive from downtown Crescent City.

There’s no more accessible route into what one hiking book calls “breathtakingly big redwoods.” The path is level and mostly smooth through a double-loop route that totals up to less than a mile of walking but delivers a treasure of visual delights, even to people in wheelchairs or someone pushing a stroller.

All that accessibility makes this a four-star attraction, which could be a drawback for some. After all, one of the charms of walking through the redwoods is the sudden, enveloping stillness that makes you feel as if you’re the only entity on the planet. There’s usually cars parked along the pull-outs on both sides of the highway.

This is not the place to go for the silent treatment. But what the heck, put on a friendly smile and enquire about where some of your path-mates hail from. They won’t bend your ear for long – the views are too compelling, especially to redwoods newcomers.

It’s hard to beat the attractions along this path, including fallen redwood behemoths that offer a closer perspective. The biggest of these lines a stretch of the trail, a natural long house that dwarfs passerby. This is not so much a hike as a stroll. But then again, not everyone goes into the woods looking for a cardiovascular workout. Simpson-Reed Grove lays out some of the best redwood scenery to be found. And everyone is looking for that.

Trail Notes:

  • The Hike: A double loop of slightly less than a mile. Take a right at the first fork, then another right onto Peterson Memorial Trail, which eventually rejoins Simpson-Reed loop as it circles counter-clockwise back to the starting point
  • Sweat Level: The trail is level, smooth and short
  • Getting There: Park along the well-marked turnouts along Highway 199 just 3 miles east of Highway 101
  • Accessible Trail  
  • No dogs allowed

Photos by Bryant Anderson

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