Durphy Creek Tan Oak Spring Lookout Point Trail Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park

Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park protects approximately 2,000 acres of woodlands in Humboldt County on the North Coast of California. Outside the main redwood grove near the park visitor center, the park is less impressive than its sister parks to the north. Instead of a rainforest of redwoods and ferns, most of Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park consists of oak-dominated forest with coast redwoods scattered throughout. While the park is not unpleasant, if you only see one redwoods state park this year, you may prefer to skip Richardson Grove.

If you have the time, Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park has several trails to explore. For a short hike, consider the 1.25-mile Woodland Trail, and if you really want to grind it out, set of on the 3.75-mile Durphy Creek Trail – Tan Oak Springs Trail Loop, which climbs 1,000 feet to the top of a forest ridge, then drops to Lookout Point for an uninspiring view before returning to the campground at the trailhead. You will find plenty of shade and seclusion along this unexceptional trail. Note that if your chief goal is to hike amongst the redwoods, you will only pass about a dozen on this trail. The Grove Trail near the park visitor center is a better option for redwood-seeking hikers.

Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park
A rare redwood along the trail

The hike starts out pleasant enough, following the left bank of Durphy Creek from a trailhead just below Mandrone Campground. Hiking west from the northeast corner of this box-shaped loop, you will reach a small picnic area set beneath a strand of tall oaks after 0.4 miles. This is a great place to take a break, and you might actually want to turn around here because after another half mile, the trail suddenly launches launches into a mile-long are-we-there-yet my-legs-are-tired string of seemingly endless switchbacks. The grueling ascent eventually brings you all the way to the top of to ridge. Why the 850-foot climb? It’s not entirely clear, as there are no grand views to motivate the effort. Upon reaching the spine of the ridge, the trail makes a sharp turn to the left, changing its name to Tan Oak Springs Trail. The spacious grove along the ridge includes a few redwoods rising above the oaks. This is the most charming forest along the loop, made even better because you are finally hiking downhill, and eastward toward Mandrone Campground.

Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park
Tan Oak Springs Trail

After dropping 700 feet over 1.25 miles. You will come to a junction with Lookout Point. Turn right and hike a tenth of a mile to the overlook on the right. Finally some views, you say. Well, not really. You will find just a small tree-framed window looking southward over Highway 101 as it crosses a woodland field in a valley carved by the South Fork of the Eel River. When you are done taking in the view, which won’t take long, there are two routes to close out the hike. Option one is to return to Tan Oak Springs Trail. Turn right and take that trail for half a mile down to Mandrone Campground. Option two is to continue down Lookout Point Trail, which reunites with Tan Oak Springs Trail on the edge of the campground after a quarter mile.

Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park
The view from Lookout Point

If you parked near the Durphy Creek Trailhead, walk through the campground to return to your vehicle. If you are camping at Mandrone, just return to your site. There is an $8 fee to enter Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park, but no permit is required to hike Durphy Creek Trail – Tan Oak Springs Trail Loop. Dogs and bikes are not allowed on hiking trails within the park. There is a fee of $35 per night to stay at Mandrone Campground, which offers coin-operated showers, flush toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings, along with marginal freeway noise. There are 39 sites in Mandrone Campground, and up to 169 sites within the park.

To get to the trailhead: From Highway 101, 15 miles north of Leggett, and approximately 30 miles south of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, turn west into the main entrance for Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park. The road curls immediately to the south to the park entrance station. Continue straight past the Huckleberry Campground entrance, pass through a horseshoe curve, and turn right toward Mandrone Campground (if you pass under the 101, you have gone too far). Durphy Creek Trail begins on the outside of the next horseshoe bend. There is parking on the road below the trailhead for day hikers, and parking at the sites in the campground for those staying overnight.

Trailhead address: 1600 Highway 101, Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park, Garberville, CA 95542
Trailhead coordinates: 40.01989, -123.79399 (40° 01′ 11.6″N 123° 47′ 38.36″W)

Elevation Profile
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Trail Map

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These photos were taken in September of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Richardson Grove Redwoods Woodland Trail
This 1.25-mile loop explores patches of redwoods surrounded by a shaded oak forest in Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park.
Humboldt Redwoods Hike Founders Grove Nature Trail
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Grieg-French-Bell Trail Grieg-French-Bell Trail
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3 Comments on Durphy Creek, Tan Oak Springs, and Lookout Point Trails Loop in Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park

  1. Carol Mingst wrote:

    Tan Oak Springs trail was the original trail. The Durphy Creek side is only 30 or so years old. Tan Oak Springs is a very small wet spot along a side trail. You have to know where it is to know where it is. The Tan Oak Springs Trail used to continue on to Durphy Meadows–a meadow at the top of the hill and just outside the park. It wasn’t worth the extra walk. :)

  2. Evan wrote:

    Wow, negative much? Yes, this is not the Grand Canyon, however it is still an enjoyable hike. A chance to escape the sounds of the highway (the presence of which is the only reason this park exists), and to see what real woods look like. No, the understory is not groomed, and the views are not panoramic expanses, they are real views into what this area looked like 150 years ago. Huckleberries are in abundance in August, but watch out for bears, they do roam the area.

    If your intention in writing this article was to deter people from using the trail so you could have even more seclusion, you succeeded. However, you didn’t need to, as there are rarely any other users on this trail.

  3. Cybele Douglas Poree wrote:

    Whoever wrote the bio on Durphy Creek Trail has to be blind and ignorant in regards to the absolute beauty (and rarity) of walking through a pristine mixed forest of which Redwoods are dominant and in their healthy and beautiful splendor, yet living in balance with ancient Oak, Madrone and Doug fir. As a lifelong resident of Humboldt County and someone who has hiked many park trails around the greater north coast, I would say that Richardson’s Grove and Durphy Trail are unique and rare and absolutely beautiful. The view from the trail is hidden gem- a pleasant surprise, and the grade and switchbacks get the heat rate up and the chi going. Did I mention that public access to such places is rare in Southen Humboldt and should be taken advantage of while in the area.

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