Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California, is a roadside attraction that has been welcoming road-trippers since 1946. We usually skip anything that remotely hints at roadside kitsch- I’m not one to pose in front of the biggest fork in the world (sorry, Springfield, MO). However, we loved our visit to Trees of Mystery!
While a giant Paul Bunyon and his blue ox Babe are ready to welcome Instagrammers in the parking lot, there is much more to be found while exploring the California Redwoods at Trees of Mystery. We loved the Canopy Trail through the redwoods as well as the Sky Trail Gondola. We found this park to be engaging, and definitely worth the price of admission.
Our kids were 4 and 6 when we visited in 2021 as part of our American Northwest Road Trip with Kids.
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Where is Trees of Mystery?
Trees of Mystery is located at 15500 US-101, in Klamath, California, just 36 miles south of the Oregon border. You can’t miss it driving along the highway. If you are driving south, the parking area with Paul and Babe will be on your left.
The nearest town to the north is Crescent City, California. We stayed in Crescent City the night before we visited Trees of Mystery. From Crescent City, we had about a half-hour drive the next morning.
Heading south, the town of Eureka is about an hour and 20 minutes away.
You can also stay at The Motel Trees, right across from Trees of Mystery. Run by the same family as the park, it has 23 rooms including some that take pets.
How Much Does Trees of Mystery Cost?
Admission to the Trees of Mystery is all-inclusive- you pay one entrance fee and have access to all the trails, the sky canopy, and the gondola for as long as you like. Kids 5 and under are free. Check updated pricing, but in 2021, adults were $20, kids ages 6-12 were $11.
Is There a Charge for Parking at Trees of Mystery?
No, there is no charge to park. When we were there the lot was not full, and it was very easy to park and head to the ticket window, or into the gift shop.
There is also free RV parking across the street next to the Forest Cafe.
When is the Best Time to Visit Trees of Mystery?
Trees of Mystery opens at 9 am every day except Christmas, with half days for Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving.
We visited in Mid-October on a Friday. The weather was a delightful 65 degrees or so. We ran around in sweaters but no jackets. The crowds were very light, we saw a few people, but mostly had the trails to ourselves.
How Long Will We Spend at Trees of Mystery?
We spent half a day exploring Trees of Mystery including doing the Redwood Canopy Trail twice. We did not do the Wilderness Trail or visit the museum. Also, we didn’t spend much time in the gift shop. When visiting with kids, I think planning a half-day is about the right amount of time, though you may need more time if there are wait times for the gondola or canopy trail.
What You’ll Find at Trees of Mystery
You’ll get a map with admission, however, with a few exceptions the park is designed to walk you through in generally one direction.
We ended up getting a map for each of the girls. They had a fantastic time navigating through the park, and checking where we were all at times. I love seeing them embrace new skills while we are out exploring!
Kingdom of Trees Trail
From the ticket entrance, you’ll start with the Family Tree, which is actually a giant stump, with a video playing in front of it. We skipped most of the videos along the trails, our kids didn’t have much patience for them.
From here you’ll head up the trail and past some very fun trees with descriptive names like “Elephant Tree” and “Upside Down Tree”. These are great fun to look at, and the kids went slower here, partially because we were headed uphill.
Redwood Canopy Trail
This is one of the highlights of Trees of Mystery! Kids should be 36 inches tall to enter the canopy trail and should be able to walk the trail on their own. There is one entrance, a one-way path, and one exit, so if someone gets scared or can’t manage the trail, it could create problems.
When we planned this trip, I was a little concerned that E (4) might be scared by the canopy trail bridges. Boy, was I wrong, both girls loved them! The canopy trail consists of bridges stretched high in the air spanning from tree to tree, then a spiral staircase down a level with more bridges. The bridges have high netting on the sides, so it feels very safe. The bridge pieces themselves have some sway and flex, but it’s not terrifying.
For the kids, this was a bit like having a private treehouse all to themselves. As soon as we finished, we promised them we would go back to the beginning and do the canopy trail again before we left the park.
Cathedral Tree, Brotherhood Tree and Sky Trail
From the Canopy Trail, you’ll head past Cathedral Tree, where weddings in the park take place. This tree is actually nine trees growing together as one, in a circular pattern around where a large tree once grew, which fell approx. 1,000 years ago.
Next, you’ll cross a small bridge as you head to Brotherhood Tree, the largest tree on the property. This huge, amazing tree has a diameter of 19 feet, with a boardwalk going fully around it. From here, head to the base of the Sky Trail Gondola.
When we visited, there was no line at the gondola, we were able to step right up to the platform. When it’s your turn, your group waits on footprints until the gondola car appears- it then slows (but not quite stops) for your group to step in. From the gondola, you can see the steps cut into the mountain from when this steep part of the park was climbed by foot.
We waited over an hour and a half in Estes Park, Colorado for a chance to ride the sky tram there, so stepping onto this one so quickly felt like a treat! We had an entire gondola car just for our family, so there were no crowds or worries about being able to see out the windows.
Once at the top, there is a wooden ramp with a deck and a viewpoint. From there you can take the Wilderness Trail back down to the base of the gondola (about one mile), or take the gondola back down. Of course, the kids wanted to ride the gondola again!
After exiting the gondola, head north on the small trail loop that goes to Towering Inferno. This is a very cool remnant of a tree that burned in 1996 from the inside out. From there you’ll pass Baby Cathedral Tree and Candelabra Tree on your way back to the Redwood Canopy Trail.
At this point, the kids were running and were not really stopping to look at the trees. We had to point out signs and have them come back to figure out why the trees might have certain names. They were just so excited to get back to the Canopy Trail!
Back to the Canopy Trail
And so, back we went for another pass through the Canopy Trail, across the treetops. They loved it just as much the second time!
Trail of Tall Tales
After our second trek through the treetops, we headed through the Trail of Tall Tales. This section of the park tells some of the legends of Paul Bunyon through wooden sculptures. All the sculptures were carved using a chainsaw.
There are some cool sculptures here, though the legends themselves don’t particularly interest me. There were audio components next to some of the sculptures, some of which were not working.
Exit and Gift Show
The Trail of Tall Tales ends at the entrance to the gift shop. Right before the door is a massive slice of a redwood tree, where the rings in the tree are marked with historical events ranging from “The Crusades” to “The Pilgrims, 1620”.
The End of Trail Museum
Attached to the Gift Shop is the End of Trail Museum, which has one of the largest private collections of Native American artifacts in the world. This museum is free and open to the public without paying admission to the park. You can read more about the museum collection here.
Did the Kids Enjoy Trees of Mystery?
Yes! In fact, the Trees of Mystery restored my faith in traveling as a family. We had a terrible morning right before our visit- the kids were unruly the night before, and I went to bed mad. The next morning everyone was tired, I was super grumpy, and S told us she hated traveling and just wanted to stop.
We almost canceled our visit to the Trees of Mystery, and I seriously considered staying in the car in the parking lot rather than going in with the rest of the family. Sounds like amazing family fun, right?
Once we got into Trees of Mystery the kids immediately brightened up and seeing how excited they were to be there, and how joyful they were on the Canopy Trail reminded all of us of why we are doing this. They are too young to imagine all the amazing places that are out there for them to explore, but when we go to one that resonates with them, it’s all worth it.
The reality is, we’d been moving too fast, and doing a terrible job getting the kids excited for the next few stops, and we were all tired. I was seriously bummed that the kids just weren’t embracing travel the way I’d hoped. As we discussed that morning, traveling long-term together only works if all four of us want to be doing it.
By the end of the afternoon, everyone was excited about travel again, we were chatting about ropes courses and all the fun things we could do together on our travels.
Where Should I Eat at Trees of Mystery?
Across from Trees of Mystery is the Forest Cafe. Open Thursday- Monday. We didn’t stop to eat here (or check out the menu) and regretted it. The parking lot of the cafe had very few cars, and we thought we could drive on and find lots of other options. Turns out there is little else around. We ended up getting fast food in Eureka more than a solid hour down the road.
There are a few picnic tables near the bathrooms at Trees of Mystery if you want to bring your own food, otherwise, you should try the Forest Cafe. Let us know how it is!
Are Pets Allowed at Trees of Mystery?
Yes, pets are allowed on the trails, and even on the gondola. They are not allowed on the tree canopy trail.
Is Trees of Mystery Wheelchair Accessible?
Unfortunately no, the main park trails are dirt, uneven, and narrow. The Canopy Trail requires climbing stairs and walking on unstable surfaces.
There is a shuttle to the Sky Trail Gondola for those that cannot easily walk to the gondola. The bathrooms to the left of the parking lot are accessible via a ramp.
Can I Drive Through a Tree at Trees of Mystery?
No, there are no drive-thru trees at Trees of Mystery. You can walk through a few trees, though! You’ll find “Nature’s Underpass” on the first section of the trail, and “Walk Thru Stump” just below the Brotherhood Tree.
If you would like to drive through a redwood, there are three trees that you can drive through just off Highway 101- Shrine Tree, Chandelier Tree, and Klamath Tree. These are each on private land and may charge a fee to drive through. You can find more details here on driving through redwoods.
Isn’t the Redwood Highway or the Avenue of Giants Just as Good for Families?
From Fortuna, California, you can take The Avenue of the Giants (rt 254), which parallels Rt 101 for 33 miles through the redwoods and gives you access to hiking trails through the trees. For adults this might be just fine, you’ll get some lovely hikes in and can marvel at the giant redwoods at your own speed.
For families with young kids, we found that having signs pointing out specific trees, and highlighting some facts about redwoods was very helpful. Our kids tend to go full speed ahead on trails, so it was great to point to a sign and give them a reason to slow down and actually look at the incredible trees around them. Plus, even if your kids aren’t wowed by the redwoods, they will still love the gondola ride and the canopy trail, which you won’t get among the redwoods anywhere else.
What Else is There to Do in Crescent City, California?
Crescent City, California has a lovely beachfront area including Battery Point Lighthouse and the B Street Pier.
There is a large (if rather old) playground at Beach Front Park. The playground is an extensive wooden play structure, our kids had a wonderful time there. They quickly joined a group of kids playing tag and all sorts of other imaginative games. It can be frustrating for parents, as the structure is built to be rather fort-like, and includes lots of places for kids to crawl and hide, which makes it harder to keep an eye on them.
For dinner, don’t miss SeaQuake Brewing. Everything that came out of their kitchen looked delicious, from the fresh fish to the pizza. They have a lovely outdoor patio with heat lamps, though we were still a bit chilly and finished our dinner in coats and hats. I had a Kamome Ale (Japanese style blonde), and the local snapper, Waker had the Hazy IPA and a Thai chicken salad, and the kids had mac and cheese with apple slices.
There You Have It!
Our family had a fantastic experience at Trees of Mystery, and we think yours will too! From the giant redwoods themselves to the tree canopy trail and the gondola ride, there’s sure to be something to entertain every member of the family.
Need more California road trip ideas? Check out Hiking Yosemite with Kids in 2021: A 3-Day Itinerary and Sweet Beans: All About the Jelly Belly Factory Tour