Trillium Falls

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park / Redwoods National Park / Orick, California, USA

About Trillium Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.2 miles round-trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2020-11-21
Date last visited: 2020-11-21

Waterfall Latitude: 41.32031
Waterfall Longitude: -124.04931

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Trillium Falls may be a miniscule 12-15ft waterfall on Trillium Creek, and I’d argue that it wouldn’t be a waterfall going out-of-the-way for.

However, I saw it as a waterfallers excuse to experience the impressive coastal redwoods as well as the possibility of seeing elk at Elk Meadow.

Trillium_Falls_046_11212020 - One of the streaks where Fern Canyon Waterfalls would flow into the fern-covered canyon itself
One of the streaks where Fern Canyon Waterfalls would flow into the fern-covered canyon itself

In fact, many park rangers working at the Redwood National and State Parks apparently considered this to be the best trail in these reserves.

It also helped that this waterfall happened to be one of the few officially named waterfalls in the Redwoods National Park (also jointly administered with Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park).

The trail started at the Elk Meadow parking lot (see directions below), which had a picnic area, some facilities, and a short connector trail leading to both the Davidson Trail as well as the Trillium Falls Trail.

Even though we didn’t see elk at Elk Meadow (we saw them elsewhere along the US101 and on near the Gold Dust Falls instead), the signage here made it seem like this was one of their favorite hangout spots.

Trillium_Falls_005_11212020 - The initial part of the Trillium Falls hike from Elk Meadow Picnic Area was on pavement as it went through a picnic area
The initial part of the Trillium Falls hike from Elk Meadow Picnic Area was on pavement as it went through a picnic area

Anyways, the initial part of the Trillium Falls hike started off on pavement as a pair of paths went around a grassy area.

Then, the pavement joined up with the Davidson Trail, where I veered right to head in a more southerly direction.

Barely a few paces along the southerly route, I then encountered the well-signed Trillium Falls Trail, which was a narrower dirt path that climbed to the right as it left the Davidson Trail.

This path made a somewhat gentle ascent among tall redwood trees as it gained around 200ft before the trail descended to a footbridge over Trillium Creek.

Trillium_Falls_032_11212020 - Hiking among a dense grove of tall redwood trees en route to Trillium Falls
Hiking among a dense grove of tall redwood trees en route to Trillium Falls

It was at this footbridge that I got to look at the Trillium Falls though I noticed others scrambled down to the waterfall’s base from the far (southern) end of the footbridge.

Although this trail had moments of serenity, it was quite a popular trail given the amount of people that shared the hike with me even though I came pretty late in the afternoon at almost 3pm.

Since I made my visit in late November, it would typically get dark before 5pm, which was why I considered my hike to be pretty late in the day (though it would probably be considered early by Summer standards).

In any case, I turned back at the hiker’s bridge in front of the waterfall, which made for a pretty easy 1.2 miles round-trip excursion taking between 30-60 minutes.

Trillium_Falls_044_11212020 - Approaching the hiker's bridge over Trillium Creek fronting the Trillium Falls
Approaching the hiker’s bridge over Trillium Creek fronting the Trillium Falls

However, I could have extended this hike to do the full 3-mile Trillium Falls loop if I was more energetic.

Authorities

Trillium Falls resides in Redwoods National Park near Orick in Humboldt County, California. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Trillium_Falls_003_11212020 - Looking back across the Elk Meadow Picnic Area as I started hiking to Trillium Falls
Trillium_Falls_008_11212020 - After making it to the opposite side of the Elk Meadow Picnic Area, the trail then continued along the Davidson Trail for a brief stretch before reaching the fork where the Trillium Falls Trail branched off
Trillium_Falls_011_11212020 - This was where the Trillium Falls Trail branched off from the Davidson Trail
Trillium_Falls_018_11212020 - The Trillium Falls Trail weaving between giant trunks of redwood trees as it climbed
Trillium_Falls_019_11212020 - Looking up at redwood trees while hiking towards Trillium Falls
Trillium_Falls_024_11212020 - This was a particularly thick redwood tree that I noticed while hiking to Trillium Falls
Trillium_Falls_029_11212020 - Continuing to hike between giant redwood trees along the Trillium Falls Trail
Trillium_Falls_040_11212020 - Going past a bridge as the Trillium Falls Trail started to descend towards Trillium Creek
Trillium_Falls_041_11212020 - Starting to see the hikers bridge over Trillium Creek as the trail continued its descent
Trillium_Falls_054_11212020 - Checking out Trillium Falls from the hiker's bridge over Trillium Creek
Trillium_Falls_061_11212020 - Another look at Trillium Falls with some people ignoring the park's advice and scrambling to its base (causing further erosion) and bringing a dog (causing a dangerous situation if it encounters a herd of Roosevelt Elk)
Trillium_Falls_064_11212020 - Looking towards a mossy tree on the south side of the hiker's bridge over Trillium Creek
Trillium_Falls_065_11212020 - Looking back across the hiker's bridge over Trillium Creek towards redwoods
Trillium_Falls_072_11212020 - I started to head back to the trailhead in the name of social distancing after a lot more people started to show up at Trillium Falls
Trillium_Falls_078_11212020 - The nice thing about going back the way I came was that I got to experience the impressive coastal redwoods of the Trillium Falls Trail once again
Trillium_Falls_086_11212020 - Descending amongst the tall redwoods once again on the way back to the Elk Meadow Picnic Area
Trillium_Falls_094_11212020 - Returning to where the Trillium Falls Trail forked with the Davidson Trail
Trillium_Falls_100_11212020 - Making it back to the Elk Meadow Picnic Area to end my Trillium Falls hike
Trillium_Falls_103_11212020 - This particular picnic table at the Elk Meadow Picnic Area would be a real nice chill out spot to see elk if they happened to be grazing the meadow in the background


I’ll describe how we drove to Trillium Falls from Arcata since that was the most significant city or town before the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

The village of Orick was actually closer to Redwoods National Park at the Trillium Falls Trailhead, but I’d argue it wasn’t a significant enough town to act as a base.

Drive_to_Golds_Bluff_Beach_021_iPhone_11212020 - The turnoff for Elk Meadow Picnic Area was right before where Davidson Road becomes unpaved
The turnoff for Elk Meadow Picnic Area was right before where Davidson Road becomes unpaved

So from city of Arcata, we drove north on the US101 for about 37 miles to the Davidson Road / Elk Meadow turnoff on the left.

This turnoff was about a mile north of Orick.

Then, we turned left onto the Davidson Road, where shortly after passing through Elk Meadow, we then turned left at the signed junction for Elk Meadow Picnic Area.

At the end of that spur road was a large parking lot, where I started the Trillium Falls hike.

Trillium_Falls_111_11212020 - This was the spacious parking lot for the Elk Meadow Picnic Area
This was the spacious parking lot for the Elk Meadow Picnic Area

Overall, it would only take about 45-60 minutes to make this drive though we did have to be mindful of possible traffic jams due to elk blocking traffic on the US101 (it happened to us).

Even though this hike was in Redwoods National Park (though I had a hard time telling whether it belonged to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park), from what I could tell, parking was free at the Elk Meadow Picnic Area.

For geographical context, Arcata was about 35 miles (over 30 minutes drive) south of Orick, 9 miles (about 15 minutes drive) north of Eureka, 142 miles (3 hours drive) north of Fort Bragg, about 151 miles (under 3.5 hours drive) north of Mendocino, 143 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Willits, 225 miles (about 4 hours drive) northwest of Santa Rosa, and 279 miles (about 5 hours drive) north of San Francisco.

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Sweep from the bridge fronting the waterfall while also checking out some mossy trees and redwoods. The couple with the dog by the falls actually illegally brought it on this trail (illegal due to the unpredictability of pets interacting with elk).

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Tagged with: prairie creek, redwoods state park, orick, elk meadow, california, waterfall



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