Redwood National Park:
Best Trails for Families with Children 

Redwood National Park:
Top 3 Trails for Families with Children 

Redwood National and State Parks, located in Northern California, offer several family-friendly hikes that showcase the stunning beauty of the coastal redwood forests. After spending years and years experiencing all the trails in Redwood National Park and State Parks, I have found these specific areas to be the most accommodating for a family with younger humans trying to explore and experience the Redwoods. 

The reality of the Redwoods, is generally the biggest trees and most impressive stands, tend to be in the most accessible areas and most mellow trails. These areas are typically described as Alluvial Flats, or flood plains. This can sometimes be disappointing for long haul hikers wanting to go out for miles and miles up a mountain, but is a great reality for those of us wanting a calm, mellow experience in a pristine natural area! 

I encourage you to walk slowly, breathe deeply, play in the dirt, and splash in the creek. Especially critical families with younger children. Allow time to sit, explore, and experience the small things around you. Be careful trying to work too many trails in. Each of the trails below, I would encourage to take at least 3 hours each. This ancient forest can be a great teacher, but one must sit and listen as the message is received rather slowly. 

Here are my recommendations for trails that will have some of the most iconic Redwoods, healthy old growth ecosystems, interesting ecological or cultural features, all while being lower difficulty trails.  

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail:

This is a very popular and easy loop trail, approximately 1.5 miles long. During the peak season, this parking area can fill quickly! Consider one of the alternative options below if you are visiting during the months of June, July, and August. 

Named after the former first lady, this trail takes you through a pristine redwood grove.

Interpretive signs along the trail provide information about the ecosystem. This trail offers beautiful sights of the Rhododendrons when they are in bloom seasonally, generally starting around May. 

A great part of Ladybird Johnson Grove Trail is the self guided interpretive brochure. This will take you through numbered stops along the trail, where you can learn more specifically about features along the trail. 

Found along Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail is one of my favorite oddities in the park, a special Redwood I like to call the Eternal Spring Tree or Fountain of Youth Tree. There is a strange feature you can see at about chest height on the bark of the tree. Throughout the year, there is always moisture slowly dripping out. Consider pausing for a moment, placing a gentle hand on this place, and absorbing some of the forest moisture through your skin. 

Karl Knapp Trail, formerly known as Prairie Creek Trail:

A gentle trail that winds through the prairies and meadows of the park. This trail is the quintessential Old Growth Redwood experience in my opinion. If you could only do one walk in the park, this should be the one. Highlights along this route is the world famous Big Tree, a great place to stop for a photograph. Make sure to spend some time at the new displays at the Big Tree, especially great for young ones to learn! 

This trail meanders through the Alluvial Flats of Prairie Creek Redwoods, where a few of the worlds largest Coast Redwoods stand. An exciting highlight of this trail is walking through two giant fallen Redwoods which the Park Service carved two tunnels through. It is a fun experience to stand inside the tree tunnels of the Walk Through Trees, and analyze the growth rings inside the trunk! 

The trail is relatively flat and suitable for families with children. Keep your eyes open for Banana Slugs along the trail! 

A recommendation is to try not to analyze the forest too deeply. Enjoy your time, take pictures, breath deeply. Try to let your senses do the work! Smell the dirt, feel the soft bark of the redwoods, pause on the bridge along Prairie Creek and listen to the sound of the water flow by. 

Trillium Falls Trail:

A beautiful trail, with the best parking and restrooms in the park. This is due to the restoration activity that has taken place in Redwood National Park, and specifically at Trillium Falls. Although the Trillium Falls are beautiful, this is not a massive or large waterfall. I love this walk to hear the sounds of the falls hitting the rocks, and experience the forest. 

Make sure to stop at the observation deck near the parking lot, where the National Park Service highlights how the landscape has shifted from being an active Timber Mill, to a nature trail in a National Park. Oftentimes, it can be hard to see the impact the Redwoods have experienced, some folks describe it as a “Green Blur”. Using a Naturalist Guide can help shift the “Green Blur” into specific plants and animals to help guide your understanding of forests and nature. 

Trillium Falls Trail has two options. Option one, is to hike to the falls, and then turn around at that point. Round trip from the parking lot is a bit over a 1-mile total. It is very interesting how different the forest landscape appears walking in the other direction! During their season, the Western Trillium can be seen blooming, along with MaidenHair Fern in the moist soil near the falls. 

The full 2.8-mile loop is a solid step up in physical difficulty from the above routes. With a few hills to climb, this trail is more classified as a hike than a walk. 

It's a great way for families to experience both the redwoods and the lush understory.

When embarking on family hikes in Redwood National and State Parks, it's essential to check trail conditions, weather forecasts, and park regulations. Additionally, carrying water, snacks, and wearing appropriate footwear are important for an enjoyable experience. Always be mindful of the fragile ecosystems and practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment.

All that planning can be stressful, not to mention extremely time consuming!  Let me take the hassle out of your visit to the Redwood Coast with a Private Guided Tour, to enable your group to find the best parts of the forest, and to learn more intimately about the deep ecology of Sequoia sempervirens and our ancient forest! 

*BONUS* Freshwater Beach and Thomas Kuchel Visitor Center

The Thomas Kuchel Visitor Center for Redwood National Park is at a great location, at the mouth of Redwood Creek, also known as Freshwater Lagoon Beach. This visitor center has wonderful educational exhibits that can highlight a self guided adventure. 

One must remember, this is the Redwood Coast, and the ocean is one of the great components of Redwood National Park. For families with children interested in Animal Tracking, this can be the best location in the park! This beach is generally uncrowded, with not many human foot prints, making it ideal for indentifying the animals that cross through our beaches and dunes! 

Remember, never turn your back on the ocean waves, this is not a safe place to splash and swim. Please respect the power of the ocean. Our waters on the North Coast in Redwood National Park are very cold and dangerous. 


Enjoy your time, take it slow, and if you need any further suggestions, please just reach out to Justin Legge at Redwood Guide!