Damnation Creek Trail

Difficulty
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Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2-3h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
5.5 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
363 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead
Damnation Creek Trail

The Damnation Creek Trail boasts a dramatic adventure through the Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park. This epic hike explores an old-growth redwood forest, plunging over 305 m down to the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean.

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Route Description for Damnation Creek Trail

The Damnation Creek Trail is a wonderful hike that boasts an exciting experience. Wander through the primeval redwood grove, which drops down Damnation Cove. Unparalleled in its diversity of scenery, this trek demands stamina and careful footing. The trail travels over Damnation Creek, and the bridges, though managed, often fall into disrepair due to extreme weather conditions. When the bridges are inaccessible, you will either need to turn around or, if the waters are low enough, boulder hop across the creek—at your own risk, of course. Additionally, the rearmost section of the trail leads down to the rocky beach but beware of high tides and surging ocean swells when venturing down to the cove. Note the steep descent also demands a vertiginous ascent—so make sure you reserve energy.

Reserved for intrepid adventurers, the Damnation Creek Trail is at the top of our hiking itinerary. This is a truly picturesque trek offering dramatic vistas from the enchanting woodlands to the rugged coastline. The woodland canopy allows beams of sunlight to pierce through the towering trees and offers sporadic views of the ocean through the tree break. As you rove, keep an eye out for wildflowers and wild mushrooms that adorn the terrain, giving the path a more whimsical ambiance. If you are seeking a scenic, but strenuous adventure, then a trip along the Damnation Creek Trail is a must-do!

Setting out from the trailhead, the Damnation Creek Hike follows the connector trail northwest into the woodlands. The initial segment of the hike runs parallel to the highway, so your magical adventure will be interrupted by the sound of traffic. Wandering through the lush green forest abundant with towering redwoods, ferns, and huckleberry bushes. Traveling along a ridge top, you will eventually reach an intersection with the Coastal Trail. Here you will notice a sign reading ‘steep and strenuous, 2.4 km to the beach’—this is how you know you are in the right spot.

Veer left here, and you will be diverted onto the Damnation Creek Trail. This path will guide you more steeply down through the redwood grove, and the sound of the traffic will fade away. Navigating the vertiginous terrain via switchbacks, you will be led amongst even more impressive redwoods—revealing the enormity and beauty of these primeval conifers. Continue hiking, and you will be guided through an a-frame bridge over Damnation Creek bounded by fern draped canyon walls. Note, if you hear a siren during your hike, don’t be alarmed; you can often hear the Crescent City foghorn from here! Soon the path will cross another bridge and open to a grassy bluff overlooking the ocean.

The final descent to the beach is precarious, guiding you down a stairway carved into the rock. Take your time and mind your footing on the often slippery terrain, and you will ultimately reach the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Before exploring the rocky beach, it is important to survey the tide and swell. If all looks calm, take the time to venture around Damnation Cove and revel in the beauty of the rock arch and outcrops that decorate the water. Admire the scene of the imposing craggy bluffs that hem the coast, and when you are ready and rested, begin your hike back up the path. To get back to the trailhead, simply retrace your footing along the route to the trailhead.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Damnation Creek Trail?

The Damnation Creek Trail is a 5.5 km out-and-back hike in the Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park.

Where is the Damnation Creek Trail?

The Damnation Creek Trail is located in the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park off Redwood Highway, south of Crescent City.

Are dogs allowed on the Damnation Creek Trail?

No, dogs are not permitted on the Damnation Creek Trail.

Why is it called Damnation Creek?

It is widely believed that Damnation Creek was awarded its name by settlers who navigated the rough terrain in the 1800s.

Insider Hints for Damnation Creek Trail

  • Wear a sturdy pair of footwear to aid in the navigation of the vertiginous terrain
  • Pack lunch and have a picnic on the shore overlooking the ocean
  • Charge your camera—the enchanting forests and dramatic coastline are picture-perfect
  • Dress in layers as the beach may be cooler than the woodlands
  • Cross the creek by foot at your own risk, and only maneuver the rocky creek bed if the water is low
  • Only explore the shoreline and Damnation Cove if the tide is low!

Getting to the Damnation Creek Trail Trailhead

Access the Damnation Creek Trail from the trailhead off Redwood Highway at mile marker 16.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Damnation Creek Trail Elevation Graph

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