The James Irvine Trail winds ahead in a curvaceous but level stretch. The Daily Triplicate/Richard Wiens
There are a few precious places that seem almost too perfect — as if they must be manmade facsimiles of nature’s wonders, like riding the Matterhorn or Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland.
Amusement park designers couldn’t improve on the old-growth redwood experience awaiting those who strike out north from the Visitors Center at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. And while a rollercoaster through the redwoods might be a nice concept for a new attraction in Anaheim, the real thing is better viewed slowly, on foot, giving hikers time to verify that what they’re seeing is real, not fantasy.
Don’t take my word for it. Dan Brett, author of the Redwood National and State Parks edition of “Best Easy Day Hikes,” marvels that today’s journey departs the Visitors Center and “immediately delves into some of the most impressive old-growth redwood forest in California — or the world, for that matter.”
Better than the behemoths in Jed Smith? Loyal Del Norters might ask that. The answer is that it doesn’t matter. Why argue over the relative merits of two sections of hiking heaven? This park may be in Humboldt County, but the visitors center is only 33 miles from Crescent City and thus more in our sphere of influence than that of Eureka, another 50 miles south of Prairie Creek.