Hike the Damnation Creek Trail in the Redwoods
If you’re hiking in the redwoods of Northern California, the Damnation Creek trail is one you can’t miss! It’s a little lesser known than the more popular trails, but the steep, muddy hike through the magical groves of redwoods leads you to an incredible rocky beach – it’s one of the best views on the entire California coastline, and an incredible trail.
This guide will tell you everything you need to hike the Damnation Creek trail, including what to bring, how to prepare, and more!
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About the Damnation Creek Trail
Here’s what you need to know before you hit the trail!
Damnation Creek Hike Stats
Distance: 3.4 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 1,190 feet
Difficulty: hard (though it’s not too long, it’s really steep on the way back!)
Leave No Trace on the Damnation Creek Trail
Anytime you’re outdoors, whether you’re a beginner hiker or an experienced adventurer, it’s essential that you practice Leave No Trace (LNT). LNT is a set of seven principles that help us understand our impact on the outdoors – because while we usually have good intentions, the environment is more fragile than we think, and one snap-second decision can cause damage to the environment that will take the earth years, even decades to repair.
The Damnation Creek trail is somewhat underrated – and while I firmly believe everyone deserves to enjoy these amazing spots, do your part to make sure it stays clean and beautiful!
Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature, as much as it’s possible to do so. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply when you hike the Damnation Creek trail!
- Plan ahead and prepare – read this guide, make sure you know have the right gear, and be prepared for mud and rain.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces – stay on the trail to avoid trampling grasses and plants! Sections of it are muddy, but walk through the mud, not around it to preserve the plant life.
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash, or anything else, behind. Pack it out!
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a cool rock or leaf, but leave these things where they belong! Animals often use these, and if everyone takes one, the trail won’t be as pretty.
- Minimize campfire impacts – no campfires are allowed on the trail.
- Respect wildlife – avoid feeding or approaching birds or any other animals you might see.
- Be considerate of other visitors – yield to uphill hikers, and be respectful – no speakers or loud music.
The Best Time to Hike the Damnation Creek Trail
The most popular time to hike this trail is in the summer, but I think the best time to hike it is spring, or fall! The Damnation Creek trail isn’t super popular, but in the off season, there will be fewer people around, so while you’ll definitely need to be prepared for rain and it might be a little chillier, having the views to yourself is worth it! Be aware that this hike is really muddy – good traction is a must.
No matter what time of year you go, it’s best to plan your hike around low tide! When the tide is low, you’ll be able to walk down to the beach to explore.
For more information about the best time to hike the trail in the redwoods, be sure to check out this guide to Redwoods National and State Parks!
What to Bring to Hike the Damnation Creek Trail
When you hike the Damnation Creek trail, here’s what you’ll need to bring!
Waterproof shoes are a must for this one – the trail gets really muddy. Good traction, and being prepared for a rainy hike, is essential!
My favorite hiking boots are my Danner boots – they’re cute, comfortable, and waterproof! I also love hiking in my Chacos, but definitely be aware that you’ll get some mud on your toes.
Rain boots are another great option for muddy or wet conditions, and are definitely the easiest to clean.
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PNW weather is known for being unpredictable, and it’s always best to wear layers when hiking. It rains often in the redwoods, and once you get to he beach, it can get really windy!
The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is a great lightweight, waterproof option. The RVCA Meyer Packable Anorack Jacket is a cute windbreaker , and folds up nice and small! For added warmth and layering, a Patagonia fleece is always a good addition.
When I’m bringing my camera gear, my favorite backpack is the Alex Strohl Mountain Light. It’s definitely the best camera bag out there for hiking with photo gear. If you don’t need storage for camera stuff, I recommend an Osprey Hikelite. If you aren’t bringing very much and just want a day bag, I love my Topo Designs Y-Pack for carrying everyday essentials!
Especially when you’re hiking or exploring outdoors, it’s important to stay hydrated! Single use water bottles are, of course, terrible for the environment, so avoid that and bring a reusable one!
For hiking, the CamelBak water reservoirs are convenient and easy – they can fit in your hiking backpack for water on the go. Nalgene water bottles are great for day to day, and if you want an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold and refreshing, Hydro Flasks are the best!
Damnation Creek Trailhead
The Damnation Creek trail is located in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, which is part of Redwoods National and State Parks. The trailhead for this hike is a little pull off on the side of Highway 101, so it can be easy to miss!
Damnation Creek Trailhead Coordinates: 41.64807,-124.11306
Hiking the Damnation Creek Trail
Once you’re ready to start hiking, here’s what you can expect on the trail!
The parking lot is just a pullout on the side of the road. There’s room for a few cars, and once you park, the trail begins with an unmarked path from the trailhead.
The trail begins by climbing a little bit, so you’ll go uphill at first. The views are immediately gorgeous – the redwood trees tower over you, creating a really magical feeling.
Though the trail begins by going uphill, this doesn’t last long! You’ll start heading downhill all the way to the beach – which means coming back is the hard part. Continue on, and you’ll walk through more magical views. The trail is really quiet and serene, and the fog that often hangs over the trees makes it even more so.
The trail is easy to follow the entire way, but you’ll come to a fork in the path – one trail goes upwards, while the other comes down. You can take either one, because they’ll rejoin in a minute! If you go left (downhill), you’ll intersect with the Coastal Trail – take a right to continue on the Damnation Creek hike. After a few feet you’ll see the spot where the trails connect again, and a sign will point you downhill towards the beach!
From here, the trail gets really steep, and it gets more and more overgrown as you head downhill towards the beach. It’s very narrow, so remember to yield to uphill hikers if you cross paths with anyone! The switchbacks descend steadily, and you’ll come to a bridge followed by a second bridge. This means you’re almost there!
Just past the second bridge, you’ll go uphill for a second, then come out to an incredible view of the ocean.
Standing on the cliff is amazing, but you can come down some “stairs” carved into the rock to explore the beach!
After you’ve explored, go back the way you came and make the steep trek back to the parking lot!
Where to Stay Near The Damnation Creek Trail
You can turn your hike into a little getaway, and stay somewhere close by! Here are my favorite options for places to stay close to this hike.
Glamping, Cabins, & Yurts
For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts (like this cabin close to the trail), cabins, glamping sites, and more.
You can even get $10 off your first booking here!
A Camper van
With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb – you can rent vans, RVs, and trailers from people who live nearby!
Find a Campsite
Whether you car camp, tent camp, or rent a tiny home on wheels, The Dyrt is the best way to find campsites! There are some options for campsites close by. Just a short drive from the Damnation Creek trailhead, you’ll find national forest land – which means you can camp for free!
There are lots options for free camping near the trail – for tips on finding the best ones, check out this guide.
An Oceanfront Home
While you’re exploring the redwoods, the towns nearby where you can find places to stay are Crescent City, Klamath, and Orick. Here are some options for places to stay close to the Damnation Creek Trail!
For more places to stay near the hike, look around this map:
More Adventures Near The Damnation Creek Trail
There are plenty more hikes in Redwoods National & State Parks! A few more of my favorites include Enderts Beach and the Prairie Creek – Foothills Loop, but check out this guide for a complete list. Once you’re done exploring the redwoods, you can continue south on a road trip of the California Coast to see more amazing beaches! The remote Lost Coast is a must see if you want to explore some undeveloped coastline.
If you’re heading north to the Oregon Coast, Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is close to the border of California, and some of the best hikes include the trail to Secret Beach and the iconic Natural Bridges!
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