South of Crescent City in the Redwood National Park, the Coastal Trail is a 70 mile route down the rugged and remote coastline within Redwood National Park. There are coastal bluffs, tidepools and wet forests to explore. Keep an eye out for Roosevelt Elk, sea lions and gray whales. The trail is usually divided into several sections as follows.
Last Chance section: 6-mile trail starts out strenuous and then levels off on the old coast highway road. Trailhead located at the end of Enderts Beach Road. Ocean vistas greet you in the first mile; side route to Enderts Beach allows tidepool exploration. Trail ascends through red alder and Sitka spruce and meets old-growth redwood forest. Junction with Damnation Creek Trail exists at milepost 16.0; continue west to Coastal Trail junction (look for signs marked CT ) at highway milepost 15.6.
DeMartin section: Some steep grades begin and end on this 6-mile hike through grand old-growth spruce, hemlock, Douglas-fir, and redwoods. Trailhead on Highway 101 at milepost 15.6, look for signs marked CT. Climb through the forest to 10 backcountry sites with toilets. Descend to prairie bald spots and sweeping ocean panoramas. With all the berries, look out for bears! Continue down and south where you will end up at the Redwood Hostel. If you want to start at the south trailhead at milepost 12.8, park at the Wilson Creek day use area on the west side of the highway.
Klamath section: 5½ miles total. From the Redwood Hostel, take the easy 2-mile trail that follows an old road paralleling Highway 101. Cross the highway at Trees of Mystery and take the short spur to Hidden Beach and tidepools. Go back to the main trail and ramble up to Klamath River Overlook where whale watching is famous. Along the way experience far-reaching ocean views along a spruce-alder forest path. Check out the off-shore seastacks covered with thousands of seabirds: murres, cormorants, pigeon guillemots, and more! You can do this hike starting from the south at Klamath River Overlook and end up at Lagoon Creek. You would then need to walk the beach and cross the highway to the Redwood Hostel less than a ¼ mile away.
Flint Ridge section: Strenuous 4½-mile trip hike starts at a pond and climbs through redwoods to ocean vistas. Access to both trailheads starts on Klamath Beach Road, off Highway 101. This eastern access is by the junction of Alder Camp Road and the Coastal Drive. The western trailhead is on the Coastal Drive; follow Klamath Beach Road to Coastal Drive. For those interested in backpacking, the Flint Ridge camp is available ¼ mile in from Coastal Drive on the western side. Expect solitude and a steep climb through one of the finest old-growth redwood forests in the parks. Marshall Pond was actually a mill pond during the logging days, but the birds dont mind!
Gold Beach section: Easy 4-mile section begins at Coastal Trail on Coastal Drive and traverses downhill to Carruthers Cove at the ocean. Flat stroll alongside Sitka spruce takes you past Ossagon backpack site. Discover 30-foot walls of ferns at Fern Canyon, a ¼-mile walk (seasonal bridges available only in the summer). Beyond Fern Canyon is a short saunter to the trailhead on Davison Road. Walk the road to Gold Bluffs Beach campground.
Skunk Cabbage section: Moderate 5-mile hike with some switchbacks. Trailheads located off Highway 101 at milepost 122.69 or drive along Davison Road to Gold Bluffs Beach entrance station. From Highway 101, thick Sitka spruce forest with some old growth opens up into dense streamside vegetation. Check out the skunk cabbage bogs and scads of ferns! Walk beside the Pacific with haunting clifftop alder stands. Look for the old Union Gold Bluff mine site.
Overall, Coastal Trail is the 80th most popular hiking trail of all 88 hikes in California.