Take A Drive On The Wildside
Consider this driving adventure if you have seen enough of the big trees and now want some sweeping views of hills, prairies, wildlife, valleys, oceans to the west and mountains to the east. "Bald Hills" gets it name from the higher elevation open grasslands and meadows that are found above some of the forests in California. The Bald Hills have human history and stories going back to time immemorial. When autumn conditions allow, prescribed fire is carefully used to keep these prairies open.
Found in the southern end of the parks, this county road is not recommended for those driving recreational vehicles, or vehicles pulling trailers. It is windy, narrow and can be a rough road. Part of it is gravel and will be very dusty in the summer. Easiest access is off HWY101, just a mile north of Orick, California. Bald Hills Road is an east-west road that starts/ends near Weitchpec, CA . This road passes through private lands and the Six Rivers National Forest.
Visitors going to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove drive on the first three-miles of Bald Hills Road. Not too many visitors take this scenic road beyond the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. However, if you have a few hours, the Bald Hills will reveal many natural and cultural wonders.
Heading a few miles to the east, Redwood Creek Overlook provides interpretive panels and great views across old-growth redwoods and second-growth forests to the Pacific Ocean.
Heading east is higher in elevation and the Bald Hills Road leads to the Tall Trees Trail (free permit required) and Dolason Prairie Trail. The open spaces of the landscape now become obvious. Often raptors, elk and bears are seen along the Bald Hills Road. In summer, it will be much hotter on the Bald Hills than it is down in the redwoods along the coast - sunscreen and extra water is important to bring.
If you want to see spring blooms, winter snows, amazing starry night skies, stunning 360 views from a summit (School House Peak 3,068ft), or hike to see historic 19th century barns and orchards at Lyons Ranch Historical District, then is spending a full day in the Bald Hills will be worth it .
Be aware that many digital maps and GPS services misdirect visitors to Redwood National and State Parks and sometimes visitors are routed along the Bald Hills Road via isolated towns like Weitchpec. Logging trucks coming from outside the park also use this road. So watch your speed and be prepared to pull over at any time. The Lyons Ranch trailhead (17 miles east of HWY101) is a good turn-around point for those wanting to head back to HWY101.
Check our current conditions page for any updates on this road.
There are no ADA accessible trails off the Bald Hills Road.
Last updated: January 22, 2021