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Christopher Hall on a boat, picture

Shady Dell in Mendocino County

Posted by Christopher Hall on October 25, 2016
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  • a scenic view of Shady Dell's lush, green forest, picture
    Photo credit
    Courtesy of ©Victoria Reeder/Save the Redwoods League
    Photo caption
    The new 2.3-mile Peter Douglas Trail gives access to a parcel of northwest Mendocino County land that's been off-limits from the public for more than 100 years.
  • a bench along the new Peter Douglas Trail overlooks the ocean, picture
    Photo credit
    Courtesy of ©Victoria Reeder/Save the Redwoods League
    Photo caption
    Benches along the trail overlook the ocean, and make a perfect spot for quiet contemplation.
  • hikers on the Peter Douglas Trail walk along a grassy bluff, picture
    Photo credit
    Courtesy of ©Victoria Reeder/Save the Redwoods League
    Photo caption
    The Peter Douglas Trail winds through shady forest and grassy bluffs.

A once-hidden natural wonder along California's remote Lost Coast is now yours for the finding. And a bit of hiking.

In the far northwestern reaches of Mendocino County, the 2.3-mile Peter Douglas Trail, which opened earlier this year, allows access to Shady Dell, a spectacular parcel of beachfront forest that was once owned by a logging company and has been off-limits to the public for more than a century. In 2011, Shady Dell was purchased by the Save the Redwoods League, which then spent several years designing and building the trail.

The trail includes a bridge, 50 feet of boardwalk and 231 steps as it winds through redwood and Douglas fir forest carpeted in ferns and moss, across grassy bluffs and wildflower-strewn meadows, and over a creek flowing through alder groves. Benches overlook the ocean, where you might spot a migrating whale. Majestic Roosevelt elk also populate the dell.

visitors admire the unique, candelabra-shaped redwoods in Shady Dell, picture
Photo credit
Courtesy of ©Victoria Reeder/Save the Redwoods League
Photo caption
One of the highlights of Shady Dell is its grove of candelabra-shaped redwoods, untouched for over 500 years.

One of Shady Dell's highlights is an unusual and magical grove of candelabra-shaped redwoods. More than 500 years old, the trees did not grow straight and tall but instead have contorted limbs shaped by wind and salty air. They survived only because loggers had little interest in their warped wood. 

An extension of the Lost Coast Trail, the Peter Douglas Trail runs north and south and can be hiked in either direction. Check the Shady Dell website for directions to the trailheads.