May 4th ~ Redwoods National Park, Northern California
We left Ellie Mae Camp-it safely parked at Jedediah Smith Park while we took a morning expedition to check out the Giant Redwoods.
We started with gathering up some literature at Hiouchi Information Center. Although we often refer to the giant trees as “Redwoods” there are in fact three distinct species.
- Dawn Redwood ~ the smallest variety, long thought to be extinct but were recently rediscovered in Central China
- Giant Sequoia ~ quick-growing, and long-lived. They can live more than 3,000 years. The largest one, General Sherman, is located in Sequoia National Park (California). With an estimated volume of over 50,000 cubic feet, height up to 311 feet and a diameter up to 40 feet, it is the most massive living thing on earth. They can be found only in the Western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Central California. The rangers called these the “football players” of the tree family.
- Coast Redwood ~ the tallest trees in the world. Think “basketball players” for this variety. Found on the Northern California coast and into the southernmost coastal section of Oregon. With a height up to 370 feet, and diameter up to 22 feet, they can live more than 2,000 years.
After getting some recommendations, we chose to take the scenic Howland Hill Road to Stout Memorial Grove to see the Coast Redwoods.
The road is not paved most of the distance, but we easily navigated it in the Subaru. RV are not recommended on this section.
Stout Memorial Grove (courtesy nps.gov)
- Location: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
- Trailhead: Paved access road is on east end of Howland Hill Road. Summer seasonal bridge allows access from Jedediah Smith Campground.
- Mileage: 0.5-mile loop
- Difficulty Level: After the initial descent from the parking lot, the trail is easy and flat.
- Description: Stout Grove, a majestic example of an ancient coast redwood forest, is often considered to be the heart of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. In 1929, Mrs. Clara Stout donated this 44-acre grove to the Save-the-Redwoods League to save it from being logged and to memorialize her husband, lumber baron Frank D. Stout. A walk along this loop trail reveals colossal redwoods thriving in rich soil deposited during periodic flooding of the Smith River. Here, waist-high sword ferns carpet the forest floor and normally flared tree bases stop short, covered in river soils. Flood waters inhibit the growth of understory trees and plants seen in other groves, leaving the 300-foot redwoods on display. A short spur trail leads you to the serpentine waters of the Smith River.
It was truly an easy stroll through these magnificent giants. Although only a short 1/2 mile loop, we took our time and savored every moment. At one point I commented that “this is my church”, as the feeling of grandeur is overpowering.
The shapes, bumps, growths, bark made fascinating shapes.
We played, we posed, we laughed, we honored their majesty.
Others before us left their marks. Today this is forbidden.
After our morning drive and gentle hike, we returned to Jedediah Smith Park, loaded up Ellie Mae, and drove back into Oregon along the coast.
Next overnight place: Gold Beach, OR
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Where would I begin on my gratitude today? The size of the redwoods dwarfed me and humbled me. Standing next to these imposing creations was like a religious experience. Seeing their beauty, strength, and endurance was both over-powering and invigorating. One can not visit here without leaving with a new sense of wonder and appreciation for Mother Nature.