Lake Earl

Finding paths to watery giant worth the effort

You can easily drive to Lake Earl’s east side, but to wring a decent hike out of Del Norte County’s biggest lake, approach from the southwest on trails detailed in the Tolowa Coast map and guide (tolowacoasttrails.org).

Set out from a parking lot next to an information center, past an opening in a fence and onto an obvious trail. There is no trailhead sign, only a notice about dog restrictions and bald eagle trivia. Take a sandy path northward for five minutes and turn right on a two-track superhighway of a path. No sign, but this is Cadra Point Loop Road.

A series of side trails to the right lead to the salty marsh at the lake’s south end. Try them if you have the time, but eventually double-back to Cadra Point Loop Road and continue to a surprising glut of signage. A right turn here leads to nearby Cadra Point, still marshy but now the view is panoramic.

TRAIL NOTES

  • THE HIKE: About a two-hour round-trip through the Lake Earl Wildlife Area to the lake’s western edge, mostly following Cadra Point Loop Road and Lakeview Trail.
  • HIGHLIGHTS: Several side trails lead to watery vantage points affording panoramic views of Cadra Marsh and Lake Earl.
  • SWEAT LEVEL: While the ridgeline has its ups and downs, it’s not strenuous. Pushing through overgrown stretches of side trails near the water calls for a little determination.
  • GETTING THERE: From Northcrest Drive north of Crescent City, turn left on Old Mill Road and follow to parking lot on right just past Lake Earl Wildlife Information Center (where Old Mill meets Sand Hill Road).

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