In July of 2016, we visited the Redwood National and State Parks. This is a unique partnership between the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The parks include: Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. These parks are on the World Heritage Site and are considered international treasures.
On this trip we stayed at a KOA just north of Crescent City which was within a short driving distance of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. There is a camp ground at this state park, with spaces in trees and by water but there was something magical about camping down Bigfoot Alley. Supposedly, there had been a Bigfoot sighting here as noted on Youtube. This prompted quite the conversations with the kids.
It is pretty impossible to capture the grandeur of these trees with an iPhone camera let alone any camera. Something that can only be done justice in person. We did stop by the Hiouchi Information Center. Here, there is an information center open in the summer complete with exhibits, interpretive publications, trail maps, and the Junior Ranger Program. At this park (Jedediah), you can camp, picnic, hike, fish, swim, and float the Smith River. There are several groves here, including the two main groves, Stout Grove and Simpson-Reed Grove. Stout is a short walk from the information center and Simpson-Reed will require you to get back into the car and head a short distance north. The Redwoods groves are intermingled with other trees and much younger redwoods.
In order to get to Stout Grove you will need to cross a rickety bridge. Kids loved this! Bridge is narrow, and not suited for wheelchairs or strollers. Once on the other side, there are several trails and a nice spot to play in the river.
Okay, enough of the river! On to Stout Grove. Stout Grove is trail that is less than a mile long, well maintained and accessible all year-long. That distance is once you get to the trail head…its probably a mile walk from the information center. You can drive from the information center and park in the camping area to shorten the walking distance, but that will cost you money whereas the information center parking is free.
Stout Grove is the world’s most scenic stand of Redwoods. Many get these trees confused with Sequoia and Sequoia National Park which is further southeast in California. The main difference between these trees is that coastal redwoods grow along the coast, and giant Sequoia grow more inland at higher elevations (4,000-8,000 ft). Both are types of redwood species.
General Sherman, is the largest (in overall size) currently living tree in the world and is a sequoia. It stands at 274.9 feet and has a volume of 52,500 cubic feet. It is located in the Sequoia National Park. The largest tree from a volume perspective was a redwood cut down in 1940’s. The currently tallest tree, Hyperion, is a 379.7-foot-tall redwood also located in California. Its location has been kept quiet.
Can’t visit these trees without taking a picture like this.
As you walk along the trail, you will see many downed trees and stumps which reinforce the massiveness of these trees.
The cool thing about redwoods, is that they have been resistant to fire . However that has been changing and scientists are looking into why that is not occurring. Thankfully California got an amazing amount of rain this last winter and many parts are no longer in a drought.
In ideal conditions, a coastal redwood can grow 2-3 feet a year. Their root systems spread out 100 feet from their base, and intertwine with other tree’s roots which gives them stability in storms. A normal redwood can produce about 100,000 seeds a year, but few germinate. A redwood is most likely to grow successfully if it starts from sprouts that form from the base of a tree.
After this grove, we headed over to the Simpson-Reed Grove. This grove has a nice maintained trail as well and is accessible by wheelchair or stroller. Unike the Stout Grove, this one is much more dense. Various Redwood groves in this area have been used in the Star Wars series.
There is a decent amount of parking at this grove. Do watch for traffic along hwy 199 as there are lots of people looking out their car windows and taking pictures on this two lane winding highway.
There are many educational signs along the way too! Some signs also point out smaller dedicated groves. In fact, there are over 1,000 small groves that have been dedicated since 1921 in order to raise additional funds to protect and restore the forests.
This was a wonderful day visiting the two main groves and playing in the water. We brought along lunch and had a picnic. Everyone was in awe of these magnificent trees! As you visit this area, these groves deserve a full day at least, especially if you are working on your Junior Ranger badge!
Amaing and impressive images! Love the Redwoods❣️
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