Even the healthiest lifestyle can get off-track when pressures at work and at home start robbing your peace of mind. The Rim Trail at Patrick's Point State Park, on the Northern California coast, gives you back the healthy glow and natural curiosity that stress takes away.
The natural world dwarfs the man-made one at the 640-acre park, located 160 miles from Medford. Just north of the park is Big Lagoon, separated from the sea by a 2.5-mile sand spit. Five miles south is the low-key village of Trinidad. (For more information about Trinidad, including attractions and accommodations, click on the link to this story at www.OregonHealthyLiving.com).
If you don't think a tiny fishing village on the Northern California coast can satisfy a big case of wanderlust, then you have yet to visit Trinidad.
Trinidad brings out your adventurous side with rocky promontories, dramatic beaches and giant lagoons. Its surroundings are paradise for anyone who loves deep-sea fishing, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, bird-watching or beach combing.
Headlands in and around Trinidad create 10 distinct public beaches. At low tide, you can clamor onto the rocks at Trinidad State Beach or Luffenholtz Beach for tide-pool exploration. One beach is just right for digging clams and another for hunting agates. Novice surfers practice their skills at Moonstone Beach, where outer sandbars inspire long, peeling lines. Petrels nest in record numbers on Houda's Landing, a promontory that once served the lumber industry.
With temperatures that hover between 40 and 60 degrees, Trinidad invites vigorous activity in every season. Fog keeps summer mornings cool while spring and fall are known for a startling clarity that makes it easy to spot migrating gray whales from Trinidad Head, a 360-foot rock dome that forms Trinidad Bay. A trail climbs through dense shrubs to the west side of Trinidad Head for glimpses of a working lighthouse from 1871.
Hiking trails fan out to local beaches. You can hike to Trinidad State Beach via Humboldt State University Marine Laboratory, where six aquariums and a touch tank display tide-pool life. Drop along Mill Creek to the beach or stay high and follow a horse trail north through the woods to Elk Head and the occasionally clothing-optional College Cove.
If you've got a nose for trails, you can turn a walk on Indian Beach into a loop with a descent at the memorial lighthouse and an ascent to Parker Creek Road.
Trinidad is the oldest town on the California coast, founded in 1850. In the 1920s, whales were hauled ashore for processing here. Today, sport fishermen clean their catches at a working pier, and a boat launch lifts boats from their trailers and moves them by rail to the water.
The village contains a few eateries, a few art galleries, a fish market, gas station and grocery store, as well as vacation rentals and a bed-and-breakfast. You will find a couple of upscale inns, a motel and a quaint assortment of cabins and campgrounds on Patrick's Point Drive, a scenic byway that connects the town with Patrick's Point State Park five miles to the north. Many lodgings are within walking distance to trails and beaches.
Dogs are welcome on most Trinidad beaches. They are off-limits on the dunes at Little River State Beach and on beaches and trails in Patrick's Point State Park.
Low-key festivals are scattered throughout the year. Summer visitors enjoy a Sunday artisans market. A tribal gaming casino ups the traffic on Scenic Drive, but the last time that road caved in near Luffenholtz Beach, the town closed it to through traffic — a boon to on-foot explorers.
If you have a dog, head south to Trinidad State Beach, or north to Big Lagoon, because dogs are off-limits on park trails. A park map will help you check your whereabouts on a trail with few signs.
The two-mile Rim Trail charts a nearly level course between Palmer's Point and Agate Beach. The trail hugs a curving bluff with frequent ocean views from under an evergreen canopy of hemlock, spruce, cedar, fir and pine. Six steep, quarter-mile side trails lead to promontories and windswept meadows.
Several trails link from the rim to the park's interior, where you can visit a reproduction of a Yurok Indian village and a 100-foot-tall rock that was a sea stack before the sea retreated. The village was built in 1990 by local Yurok people to show off inventive redwood structures used in the 1800s, when the Yurok world stretched from Wilson Creek near Crescent City to Little River just south of Trinidad.
The trail begins at Palmer's Point, a prime spring and fall lookout for migrating gray whales. Some whales summer near the point. Before sunset, sea lions bark from the sea stacks. At low tide, families pick their way through the rocks to tide pools that harbor sea stars and anemones. Just over half a mile, the trail passes several campsites on the choice outer edge of Abalone Campground.
If you are sure-footed as a mountain goat, you can conceivably scale the rocks for close-up views of seals at Rocky Point. The seals swim around Wedding Rock, too, and footing is firmer there. Wedding Rock is a sea stack in the making that just barely connects to the mainland via a high, narrow strip of land, like a diamond mounted to a wedding band.
The Rim Trail skirts Agate Beach Campground before dropping to pebbly Agate Beach. Like the rest of the ocean around Patrick's Point, Agate Beach is not suitable for swimming due to rogue waves, unexpected holes and a strong undertow. The mile-long beach is known for agates, a translucent form of quartz.
You can link from Agate Beach to Big Lagoon, where driftwood complicates the challenges of traversing a sandy ridge. Pounding surf scours one side of the ridge, and salt-tolerant plants crowd the other.
Refresh your outlook with a hike at Patrick's Point State Park.
For information contact: Patrick's Point State Park, 707-677-3570; Humboldt Lagoons State Park, 707-488-2041; Trinidad Chamber of Commerce, 707-677-1610.