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