4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
The James Irvine Trail is "possibly the best redwoods hike in the world," according to Lana Law on [PlanetWare.com](https://www.planetware.com/california/best-hikes-in-redwood-national-and-state-parks-us-ca-268.htm).
"This trail runs along hillsides and ridges through an incredible display of old-growth redwoods," Law continues. Unlike the many short loop hikes through stunning redwood groves, the James Irvine Trail is a lengthy point-to-point trail that covers some serious ground.
If you hike the trail as mapped, you'll cover over 10 miles and 1,700 feet of elevation gain.
The route begins at an easily-accessible parking lot just off the highway.
From there, "the first section of the 4.5 mile (7.2 km) James Irvine Trail will be in old-growth redwood forests before entering the spruce forests of the coast," [according to the NPS](https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/jamesirvine-ferncanyonloop.htm).
The trail runs along a low ridge, paralleling Godwood Creek.
The route ends at the popular Fern Canyon trail, making a quick loop through the canyon (and glimpsing the Pacific Ocean) before returning to the trailhead on the same stretch of singletrack. Unlike many redwood hikes, the James Irvine Trail tends to be a bit rougher and more off-camber, providing a little more hiking challenge.
Roots, bridges, and mud can all be slippery due to the regular rains and mist from the Pacific Ocean.
If you're looking for a redwood hike that provides a bit more spice, this is it!