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COASTAL HIKING PROVIDES A BREATHTAKING EXPERIENCE

With trails that spread from the magnificent Pacific Coast to seemingly untouched wilderness areas and all the way back to monumental National Parks, hikes in and around the Wild Rivers Coast are both plentiful and spectacular.

In Curry and Del Norte counties, hikers can find a series of outdoor expeditions leading to breathtaking view points and wilderness solitude.

A common pathway for many hikers is the West Coast Trail, also known as the Pacific Coastal Trail.

In Curry County, the Oregon Coast Trail stretches from just north of Brookings to Port Orford with only a few spots of separation. In Del Norte, coastal hiking weaves up and down between forests and beaches often hidden from U.S. Highway 101.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the West Coast Trail is how easy it is to access. Quite frankly, all it requires is to pull into one of dozens of turnouts along the coast, particularly Highway 101, and follow the trail markers north or south.

Among the most scenic stretches of coastal trail in Oregon include parking at the Thunder Rock Cove trailhead about 12 miles north of Brookings. From the parking lot, head north and follow either a loop trail to the left, or a more challenging trail to the right that leads to small, hidden beach.

In Del Norte, another "hidden beach" trail can be accessed following a 1.3 mile trek approximately 20 miles south of Crescent City. A large vehicle turnout is marked and the official name of the trail is the Yurok Loop.

Inland, a web of trails weave up, down and around the coastal mountains. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area is the heart of Curry County and Siskiyou National Forest. The wilderness sits east of Brookings and Gold Beach from the California border nearly to the Rogue River.

The Kalmiopsis was shaped by uplifting glaciers and offers hikers a dramatic switch of scenery from the nearby coastal forest. Red rock peaks loom at more than 5,000 feet throughout the Kalmiopsis.

Trails can be accessed from a number of trailheads either from the coastal or Illinois Valley side of the wilderness. For a breathtaking view of the high peaks in both the Kalmiopsis and the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area in California, head up the Elk Mountain Trail located about 25 miles from Brookings. Access the trailhead by heading 12 miles up the Winchuck River Road, found near the state lines.

When hiking inland in Northwest California, only three words really need to be said: the Redwood Forest.

Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the world's tallest trees: old-growth coast redwoods. More than 200 miles of trails weave through a variety of environments in the parks, including prairies and lush forests.

The Stout Grove Trail is a common hike that can be accomplished by hikers of any skill level. The hike offers an easy, 1/2 mile walk through a level grade redwood grove. The Smith River parallels the grove; as well as unusually stout trees from the rich river soils. Stout Grove is in the Northern Section of the park.

For more information on hiking in Curry and Del Norte counties, visit the following:

The Gold Beach Ranger District office, located on the south end of Gold Beach on Highway 101 at 29279 Ellensburg Avenue;

Redwood National and State Parks offices, located at 1111 Second St., in Crescent City. Their number is (707)464-6101.

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