About the Site
Redwood National Park  


Park History

Redwood Trees

LBJ Grove

Roosevelt Elk

Northern Coast

Central Coast

South Coast


Jedediah Smith SP

Prairie Cr. Redwoods SP

Cathedral Trees

Fern Canyon

Klamath River

Smith River

Redwood Creek

Redwood Creek Overlook

Lost Man Creek

Bald Hills

Crescent City



Plants & Animals


Redwood Creek

Redwood National Park and the three state parks feature three major rivers, and three major watersheds. The southernmost of these is Redwood Creek, which in many ways is the centerpiece of the park. The river runs through the southernmost section of Redwood National Park proper.

Redwood creek has been radically altered by logging activities which took place along its course before the inclusion of the watershed in the national park. Logging on the steep hillsides along the river cause sediments to be washed into the river, raising the streambed. This creates a wider stream, which in turn undercuts the alluvial terraces along the creek where large redwoods were growing, toppling the ancient trees. Salmon were also affected by silting of the river, reducing their spawning habitat.

Actually, the watershed of Redwood Creek has high natural rates of erosion, but logging activities worsened this situation. Floods occurred in 1955, 1964, 1972, and 1975, and added 8 feet of gravel and sediment to the Redwood Creek bed. The bed was transformed from a narrow, incised one to the present channel which is relatively broad and shallow, as is shown below.

Redwood Creek enters the Ocean just north of the southern boundary of Redwood National Park, near the small town of Orick. The Redwood Creek estuary is located along the coast near the Kuchel Visitor Center. This view of the estuary looks back upstream.

This view of the Redwood Creek estuary and the beach along the ocean was taken near the Kuchel Information Center.

Redwood Creek Overlook

Located high above Redwood Creek, along Bald Hills Road, is the Redwood Creek Overlook. This is unquestionably one the most noteworthy of the views in the park. This viewpoint provides exceptional views of Redwood Creek, and its drainage, a number of stands of Redwood trees, and the Pacific coast.

The nearby hillsides contain 9000 acres of old growth redwood, one of the largest collections still remaining. The overlook provides panoramic views of the area all the way to the ocean, which is covered with fog in the picture below.

At one time the Tall Trees Grove, below the Redwood Overlook, was believed to contain the three tallest trees in the world. The tallest tree, believed to be about 600 years old and known as the "Libby Redwood", was measured at 367.8 feet, and is believed to be about 600 years old. However, in recent years 10 feet from the top of this tree were blown off during a storm, costing it its title at the world's tallest tree. A tree outside the park usurped the title. In 2006, however, another tree inside the park was found to be the highest, although its location has not yet been released to the public.

The Tall Trees Grove also contained trees measured at 364.3 feet, 352.3 feet, and there is a tree measured at 367.4 feet downstream. The location of the Tall Trees Grove provides a sheltered, fog-drenched location for the development of large redwood tree. In addition, the fertile, moist, nutrient-rich alluvial soil ideal is for the growth of giants. Much of the land is this part of the park, the Redwood Creek drainage, was added to the park in 1978, to provide protection for Redwood Creek against contamination by silt from logged slopes, and the magnificent redwoods along its banks.

The altitude of the Redwood Creek Overlook is about 2000 feet; altitudes in the park range from sea level to 3100 feet. The range of the redwood tree generally extends up to about 3000 feet. On slopes which are adjacent to alluvial flats, such as those visible from Redwood Overlook, there is a transition from redwood to Douglas fir forests. Between 1000 and 1600 feet there is mixed redwood and evergreen forest.

Redwood Overlook provides one of the best views of old growth and second cut redwood forest in the park. Old growth redwoods are typically defined as those which are older than 200 years. They have trunks more than 40 inches in diameter, are usually greater than 200 feet in height, have no branches at all on the lower third of the tree, and have branches with diameters up to 10 inches. Sadly, only about 5% of the original old growth redwood forest is still intact, and virtually no stands of virgin redwoods remain in private hands.

The redwood forests have a climatic effect in that they remove moisture from mist and fog as it moves across the land, leaving inland areas drier. In the view from Redwood Creek Overlook below, the marine layer of fog can be seen laying over the ocean as it is intercepted by the redwood forests and coastal hills and mountains. The lighter colored fog layer lies over the ocean.

Lost Man Creek

One of the smaller waterways in the park is Lost Man Creek. This area is reached by a small road which leads off of Highway 101 not far north of Orick. One beautiful aspect of the creek are the alder trees which line the banks of the creek.

The creek was named after a timber locator who never found his way back from exploring the upper drainage of the creek.

One interesting effect of the redwood forest canopy is the maintenance of a constant stream temperature.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

  • Commercial use of the images contained in this document without express written consent is strictly prohibited.

  • Comments and other remarks can be sent via e-mail to parkvision@shannontech.com