The Little-Known Azalea Preserve; Have You Been There?


Azalea blooming yesterday at the Preserves. [Photo by Christopher Bigos.]

It’s azalea season! The flowers unfurl and offer splashes of color along the North Coast. One hidden gem is the Azalea Reserve.

To see these beauties, here’s the directions according to Save the Redwoods website,

Azalea Nature Trail lies just east of Highway 101, between Big Lagoon and Stone Lagoon. Take the Kane Road exit east. When the road forks in about half a mile, veer left onto a well-graded dirt road. In another half mile or so, you’ll see a state park sign on the right and parking for a few cars on the left. The trail starts in a Sitka spruce forest and leads to a sunny slope overlooking the ocean that’s covered with 10-foot-tall azaleas. In May and June it’s solid pink, white and red. The trail is flat and a bit overgrown. But who can complain about an abundance of blossoms?




  • Thanks Kim I didn’t know about this I will make a point to check it out.

  • We went there once, it was unimpressive at that point.. Very unkept looking.. This was several years ago.. Have not stopped back since then.

    • sharpen your pencil

      It’s a preserve. Not somebody’s landscaped back yard in the snobby bluffs of McKinleyville! Appreciate the simple things, not all landscapes need to be molested to contain beauty….

  • Thanks Kym, can’t wait to go check it out!

  • Natural and unkempt…. my kinda place!

  • This is the Azalea Preserve I’ve always known, near McK

    Azalea State Reserve

    A 30-acre reserve for western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale).

    Each spring, a profusion of pink and white blossom scent fills the air. The reserve offers a short self-guided nature trail with emphasis on other plants of the north coast area.

    There is a picnic area available. Plan to visit in April and May when azaleas are in bloom.

    Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing
    Coastal/temperate. Summer 50-60. Morning and evening fog is common. Winter 40-50 with 35″ of annual rainfall occurring mostly November – May.

    Hiking Trails
    Nature Trails
    Picnic Areas

    Directions: 5 miles north of Arcata, take the McKinleyville exit (Central Ave) off of Hwy 101. Drive 2 miles east on North Bank Road and turn left into the reserve.(Latitude/Longitude: 40.9186 / -124.0772)

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      I think you are mistaken. The reserve you talk about is much better known and is as you describe. The area described here is off Kane road north of the area you think, as described by the author. Honestly, a whole different area. Give it a try!


    There’s another one between Arcata and McKinleyville.

    Beautiful flowers and should be in bloom right about now!

    A friend took me to Kane Road. Who knew? 🙂

  • Thank you Kym, never knew what was up the hill on Kane Rd, went fishing on the down hill side rd at Big Lagoon years ago. Will stop there and check it out next week Thanks again

  • Have to check these out..I remember hiking to huge stand of wild azaleas on Red Mountain years ago. The fragrance and beauty remains with me yet.

  • Did not know. Noted and added . The reason we bought our place was the western Azalea’s that are stinking the place up. Did not even finish the walk around before saying WE TAKE IT. That was over 25 years ago.

  • Western Azalea

  • I took my girlfriend in my 1961 VW Beetle to the one between Big and Stone Lagoon one time and asked her to marry me. That was in 1967 and we have been married for 49 years this year. I remember it like it was yesterday. So, yes I’ve been there. 🙂

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