Del Norte Section 6

Enderts Beach Trailhead to Damnation Creek Trail, Redwood National Park

Del Norte Section 6

Enderts Beach Trailhead to Damnation Creek Trail, Redwood National Park

The California Coastal Trail does its first serious climbing on this section, rising above a precipitous, impassable shoreline. Here CCT mostly follows the original Redwood Highway route over a steep grade offering sweeping views of the Del Norte coast. Part of the old road is on the National Register of Historic Places. What's remarkable about this section is its uncompromised wildness, even though you will see some of the old pavement.

Descend south along the now grassy old highway with views along the rugged shore. CCT descends through dense coastal scrub into Nickel Creek Canyon. Around ⅜ mile the side trail to the campground and Enderts Beach heads west. On the left, Creekside Trail heads east almost ¼ mile to a bench in a pretty spot. After CCT crosses the creek, you leave the old highway and begin a steep climb, gaining 900 feet in the next 1¼ miles.

CCT turns away from the canyon at ⅝ mile, ascending steeply through three long switchbacks. Rejoin the old highway at 1¼ miles, climbing south along a steep-sided ridgetop. Both the ridge and the worst of the ascent end beyond 1½ miles. Dip and rise gently tO a second summit at 1⅞ miles where you might see the rugged coast far below.

A steady descent brings you into Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park around 2⅛ miles where stately virgin redwoods line the route. Ascend gradually from 2½ miles, encountering fragments of the old highway pavement. Beyond 2⅞ miles a clear day offers a panoramic view north to Lake Earl.

CCT turns east toward the headwaters of Damnation Creek. Climb gradually into Anson Grove where redwood, fir and Sitka spruce grow ten feet in diameter. Contour then descend gently through primeval forest in Damnation Creek's headwaters. At the creek's main fork at 4½ miles, the trail jogs left across a sturdy bridge in a lush, beautiful spot.

Gentle ascents alternate with level stretches on the old road, while all around you the virgin forest remains a most inspiring sight. Pass a 14-foot-diameter redwood before 5¼ miles as the roar of traffic wafts through the forest.

After a short ascent, CCT meets the Damnation Creek Trail at 6⅛ miles. Here you have several choices. If you have time for the steep but beautiful Damnation Creek Trail, it descends 1½ miles from here to a wildflower-rich blufftop in a spectacular spot at the mouth of the creek. If you are day hiking, you can return the way you came, or, if you left a shuttle vehicle at the south end access, go 50 feet and turn left to climb the hill that leads ⅝ mile to Highway 101 at the Damnation Creek Trailhead. If you're continuing south on CCT today, see Del Norte Section 7 which continues south along the old roadbed from the Damnation Trail junction.

SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS & LOOPS: Day hikers might take the easy one-mile round trip to Nickel Creek or Enderts Beach. If you climb the big hill, you'll at least want to continue to the Lake Earl view, 5⅞ miles round trip, or the crossing of Damnation Creek, 9 miles round trip.

Distance: 6⅛ miles (CCT) or 6¾ miles to Damnation Creek Trailhead (9.9 or 10.9 kilometers).

Open to: Hikers, bicyclists.

Surface: Dirt trail, old road with some pavement.

Access point: Enderts Beach Trailhead.

How to get there: Turn west off Highway 101 onto Enderts Beach Road 2 miles south of Crescent City. Drive 2.3 miles to end of road.

Other access:

Difficulty: Hard

Elevation gain/loss: CCT Section, one way: 1330 feet+/ 560 feet-. To Damnation Creek Trailhead: add 140 feet+/40 feet-.

Cautions: Trail beyond Nickel Creek is extremely steep.

Further information: Redwood National and State Parks (707) 464-6101, ext. 5064.

Facilities: Chemical toilets at Nickel Creek.

Campgrounds: Nickel Creek Camp is a primitive trail camp ½ mile from start of section. Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park has car camping east of Highway 101 not far south.

Lodging: Motels in Crescent City. DeMartin Redwood Hostel (707)482-8265 is near end of Del Norte Section 7.

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