Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail: Easy Hike and Beautiful Redwoods

The Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail is an easy redwoods hike near the north end of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Most people drive right by it, usually because they’re headed to the more popular hikes located farther south along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. But if you want a short and level walk through beautiful redwood scenery with likely no one around you, then the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail may be just what you need.

The Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail travels through up-slope redwood forest in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
The Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail travels upland redwood forest in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Bonus: informational signs describe how Redwood National & State Parks personnel removed the Ah-Pah logging road and then rehabilitated the slope. The work was done so well and the vegetation has grown so fast that you’ll hardly believe a road was ever here.

Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail Key Data

Distance: 0.6 mile round-trip
Difficulty: Easy
Type: Day hike
Elevation gain: 30 feet
High point: 879 feet
Season: year-round; can be foggy in summer; fewest visitors fall to early spring
Contact: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Maps: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park brochure
Permits: no permit needed
Notes: dogs prohibited

Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail Trailhead Directions

The Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail trailhead is on the east side of Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park 7.5 miles north of Exit 753 on US Highway 101 and 1.6 miles south of Exit 765, at mile marker 133.50. There’s room for several cars on the small remaining segment of the Ah-Pah road.

Note: see my extensive post with Redwood Highway 101 hikes, beaches, and sights.

Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail Trailhead GPS coordinates: N 41 27.058 W 124 02.306. Be aware that the dense redwood forest interferes with GPS signals, so don’t count on GPS to get you here.

Three informational signs along the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail explain road removal and slope rehabilitation in the redwood forest.
Three signs along the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail explain road removal and slope rehabilitation.

Hiking the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail

The Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail ends among beautiful redwood trees at Merriman Grove.

Start walking level on the path that was once Ah Pah Road as you look out to the left over a small drainage that feeds McGarvey Creek. Quickly reach the first of three signs you’ll encounter over the first 0.1 mile that explain the environmental benefits of removing the road and how the process was actually completed.

You’re contouring along an open slope that features a good assortment of redwood trees large and small in an open forest. Lots of sword ferns and lady ferns line the trail, and you’ll also see salal, rhododendrons, thimbleberry, red huckleberry, and black huckleberry. You’ll hear a bit of traffic from Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway, but it fades as you progress deeper into the redwood forest.

At 0.2 mile you’ll arrive at the Chas L. McKelvy Memorial Grove, which has several downed trees, and then pass through a small grove of red alder trees. Continue on another 0.1 mile to the official end of the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail at Merriman Grove, which features some impressive redwood trees. (Key data on redwoods in Redwood State & National Parks)

Want More Nearby Hiking?

Then check out my all-color guidebook Hike the Parks: Redwood National & State Parks. It contains 38 hikes, including 11 hikes in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and another half-dozen hikes nearby, plus detailed info on campgrounds, beach access, viewpoints, scenic drives, and more. (Find it on Amazon here.)

Also see these other posts here on the Northern California Hiking Trails blog:

My Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail Video

Here’s a short video of the trail highlights. It’s one of a hundred-plus videos on my Northern California Hiking Trails Youtube channel. Please subscribe to the channel and click notifications to get alerted to all my new videos (and please give the video a like!).

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