After camping across America for the last four weeks, we finally made it to Northern California to explore the Redwoods with kids. Redwoods National Park is just starting to bloom and spring is evident all around. Camping in the early 2022 season has made us more flexible and kept us on our toes.
Typically we research and have all of our hiking days planned out well in advance. Exploring the National Parks in the early season has taught us that websites are not always up-to-date, parks are putting permit systems in place, and many of the roads are closed due to snow or construction.
The Redwoods National Park is our 6th national park stop of this trip. We have learned a few lessons to make the most of visiting Redwoods with kids.
Research the Top 3 Must Dos
Before we left on our 10 week camping trip, I read through our National Parks book and made a rough plan about what I thought would interest us most.
- Tall Trees Trail
- Boy Scout Trail
- Lady Bird Johnson Trail
I added these three hikes to our planning sheet and noted that we would need a permit to hike the Tall Trees Trail. Two weeks before our arrival at the Redwoods, I started to read reviews to get a better idea which trails were best for hiking with kids.
I decided not to pull a permit for the Tall Trees Trail since we had just completed two strenuous hikes in Yosemite. I added Fern Canyon to our list of hikes as this was one of the most popular hikes on the AllTrails app.
Stop at the Visitors Center
As soon as we entered the Redwoods, we stopped at the Visitors Center. I come prepared with questions about the trails I have chosen, ask for recommendations, and pick up the Junior Ranger Program booklets. The rangers are great resources to help plan our days out.
While planning our three days in the Redwoods with kids, the ranger informed us:
- To stop at Trillium Falls as we could park easily with our camper.
- Skip Lady Bird Johnson Trail since parking with a camper would be difficult.
- Hike the Boy Scout Trail on day 2.
- Stop in Prairie Meadow to see the elk.
- If the weather was nice, we could swim in a river up north on the Smith River
Be Spontaneous & Flexible
On our way to Trillium Falls parking area, we were stopped by two rangers asking if we had a permit to hike Fern Canyon. We did not have a permit and did not know permits were required for any hikes other than the Tall Trees Hike. I noted this piece of information and decided to look into the Fern Canyon Trail when we got back to the camper that night.
Fern Canyon turned out to be the highlight of our time at the Redwoods. This hike included walking through a riverbed with two-stories of ferns on both sides of the canyon. It was truly spectacular, adventurous, and very cold on our feet. I was glad we brought water shoes per advice I read online. After navigating the rocky riverbed, it was so nice to put dry socks and shoes on to complete the hike.
I try to keep our plans fluid so that when new ideas come along we can make the most of our time in the Redwoods with kids.
Exploring the Redwoods with Kids
As a family, the Redwoods hit all the high notes. Our girls enjoyed capturing photos of the huge Redwood trees, climbing through the dense rainforest terrain, navigating the muddy trails, and exploring the rocky Pacific coastline. This stop was probably the messiest hiking as we were muddy, wet and cold at times. It was also unforgettable and one that we will treasure memories from.