Patrick's Point State Park (PPSP) is located 25 miles north of Eureka, California, and is the heart of California Redwood Country. The Visitor Center has clean restrooms, an exhibits area, and gift shop that sells replicas of the famous yellow snails you will likely encounter on your adventures around the park! This is also where you can get trail guides that show all the many hikes available within the park.
When I visited PPSP recently with a Road Scholar group ( www.roadscholar.org ) I learned something from our hike leader that no one had ever pointed out to me before. While still in the parking lot, he had each of us take out the trail map we had been given, and orient ourselves with the map and the ocean, so we could better grasp what the map was telling us, and (hopefully!) prevent any of us from getting lost on our morning hike! He suggested we always do this "trail map orientation" anytime we start out on a hike. I usually look at the trail map (and take a photo of it), but I had not been physically turning my body to get it oriented with the trail map. Thanks for this great advice! Note also, that our leader had a microphone. Plus, each Road Scholar hiker had earphones, so we could hear interesting nature facts about what we were seeing, even if we were not close to our leader.
PPSP consists of ocean side headland, with a shoreline that has both sandy beaches, tide pools, and sheer cliffs.
Our Road Scholar leaders brought their super-duper telescope, so we could get an "up close and personal" look at the sea lions and nesting birds on the sea stack rocks out in front of us. This area of the park is also a great place for whale spotting, and watching beautiful sunsets over the Pacific!
The most prominent rock formation we saw from our vantage point is called Wedding Rock. Getting married on Wedding Rock is a nearly 100 year old local tradition, since the park's original caretaker was married there in the early 20th century.
Each year dozens of couples, along with their wedding guests, hike up the trail--climbing these stone steps---to make their wedding vows to one another, hundreds of feet above the crashing waves. My mind went back to the wedding scene in the movie "Mama Mia", which was filmed on a similar ocean rock peninsula in the Greek Islands.
The small, flattened out "stage" has provided a solid rock foundation to wedded bliss for many a couple. (Note: To hold a wedding here, reservations are required, and can be arranged by calling 707-677-3110).
Locals call this the "Rock of Romance" and many knots have been tied at the top of PPSP's Wedding Rock!
One of the many enjoyable aspects of participating in a Road Scholar program is the fascinating people you meet! This photo shows a new friend I met (and her mother who is in front of her on the trail), who was there with her mom. Her mom had been on over FORTY of these Road Scholar adventures, but this was the first time she was joined by her daughter. They seemed to be enjoying their time together in the outdoors!
Our group continued its hike alongside the ocean, stopping as needed to see an interesting wildflower or other natural item of interest.
When the trail starts eastward into the interior of the park, one can see the diversity of the vegetation. Even though this is redwood country, the forest at PPSP also contains spruce, hemlock, pine, fir and red alder trees.
We saw many beautiful wildflowers that are not seen on hikes in the Ozarks!
The exposed roots of these ancient trees served as handholds to help us up the steep trail from cliff side to upper forest.
A very interesting feature of PPSP is its recreated Yurok village, called Sumeg. The village was built by Yurok people working with local park staff. The Yurok people still use it for their ceremonies, as well as to teach Yurok children and local school groups about the native American traditions of this coastal indigenous group.
The village contains a sweat house, family houses, dance house, and changing house. This photo shows one of our Road Scholar participants watching hesitantly as her companion crawls down into the underground structure.
All of the buildings are made of redwood that was harvested from fallen timber in northern California state parks, and reflect the style of dwelling that would have been used in a traditional Yurok seasonal village.
There is even a traditional Yurok dugout canoe, made of redwood! Since my friend Diane and I belong to a paddling club back in the Ozarks, we could not pass up the opportunity to have our photo taken in this VERY MASSIVE flotation device!
The Yurok village also has a newly refurbished Native Plant Garden, that shows the plants the Yurok people used for baskets, food, and medicine. The placards telling what each plant is, and what it was used for reminded me of a favorite verse in the Bible from Genesis 1:29 that reads----And God said, "see I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food."
To start planning your trip to see this grand vista for yourself, just click on www.parks.ca.gov and discover all there is to see at Patrick's Point State Park. A visit there will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia