An enchanting coastal woodland sounds like a description out of a fairy tale, until you visit Patrick’s Point State Park, where turquoise tide pools gurgle beneath bluff-top redwoods in a touch of real-life magic. Soak it in on a 2-mile (one-way) coastal stroll from the craggy tide pools of Palmer’s Point to sandy Agate Beach, taking time to explore six steep quarter-mile spur trails leading to promontories with sweeping shoreline vistas. Begin at Palmer’s Point parking lot, where ancient sea stacks pierce the horizon. Descend the route’s first spur of steps to the shoreline and search for ochre sea stars and hermit crabs at low tide (see tide chart link below). Or walk back along the road past a cliff-top bench and begin left on wooded Rim Trail.
At 1.2 miles, a detour on the left leads to 120-foot-high Wedding Rock, a highlight of the hike. A short descent precedes a climb up rough cobblestone steps and terraces accented by delicate pink blooms, while coastal redwoods tower on the edge of sheer jutting cliffs over the crashing surf below. Return to the main Rim Trail and finish at Agate Beach, where a final spur descends via a series of switchbacks to a sandy stretch of coast covered in semi-precious pebbles and driftwood. Return the way you came or cut back through the center of the park, past Sumeg Village, a reconstructed Yurok settlement featuring a traditional redwood canoe.
SUNSET TIP: Hike to Wedding Rock when the clock strikes sunset. The Wedding Rock Beach Trail, adjacent to the main spur, leads to softly lit boulders and the best seat in the house for the day’s dramatic rose-hued finale.
CAMP: For solitude and privacy tucked away in a spruce forest, set up camp at Penn Creek at Patrick’s Point State Park. Each of 15 sites has a picnic table, firepit, and food locker. Reservations recommended. Sites not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
EAT: As the state’s largest producer of oysters, Humboldt Bay is the pearl of California’s oyster industry. Get a taste at Arcata Plaza’s Saturday Farmers’ Market, a 20-minute drive south of Patrick’s Point along Highway 101. The Oyster Lady sells raw by the pound and barbecued ready-to-eat. For more mouthwatering madness, visit the Lighthouse Grill’s stand for mashed potatoes scooped into a savory rosemary cornmeal waffle cone, topped with your choice of 14-hour slow-roasted barbecue brisket, bacon, cheese, and veggies.
Patrick’s Point State Park info and map. Check tide charts for tide pooling. The Rim Trail one-way from Palmer’s Point to Agate Beach Overlook is 2 miles not taking spurs; 3.5 miles if you take all six. Camping $35/night; day-use fee $8/vehicle. Reserve a site. Dogs allowed on leash in campgrounds, picnic areas, and along paved roads, but not on beaches or trails. Many of the spur trails along the Rim Trail, including Wedding Rock, can be accessed by car. Arcata Plaza Farmers’ Market (open Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.).