Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

First of all, I should say that no photograph can really do justice to the grandeur or the sheer immensity of the California redwoods – they must be seen in person. And there’s no better place to see these giants than at Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, considered by many to be the most scenic stand of redwoods in the world.

Although the giant sequoias of the Sierras are older, and have larger base diameters, the coast redwoods are still the tallest trees on the planet. They can grow up to heights of nearly 380 feet, which is roughly 70 feet higher than the tallest sequoia.

The oldest redwoods are about 2000 years old, and have base diameters of 22 feet. The tallest redwood in the world, at almost 380 feet in height, is known as Hyperion. If you wish to visit this giant, you may want to note that its location is kept secret.

According to, the tallest tree in Stout Grove is known as Jedediah Smith, and is 342 feet in height. The largest tree we saw during our hike required 27 steps for me to walk around the base of the tree. That probably equals a circumference of roughly 65-70 feet!

Although you might think that the name of the grove is a reference to the strength or height of the trees, it actually refers to the previous owners of the land. Clara Stout donated the 44-acre tract to the Save-the-Redwoods League in memory of her late husband, Frank D. Stout. This tract of land became the first dedicated grove when the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park was established in 1929.

In 1994, Jedediah Smith, along with Del Norte Coast and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks, joined Redwood National Park in a cooperative management effort that is now known as the Redwood National and State Parks. The combined parks, now a World Heritage Site, contain almost 132,000 acres, and protect roughly 45% of all the remaining coast redwoods. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, named after the first white man to explore the interior of northern California, protects more than 10,000 of those acres.

The loop trail through the 44-acre Stout Memorial Grove is an easy stroll. The sublime beauty and the deep quiet of the ancient forest encourage visitors to slow down and admire one of the true wonders of the world.

While the trees tower above, the sword ferns, redwood sorrel and rhododendron provide a lush green carpet along the forest floor.

If you wish to extend your hike there are two trail junctions you’ll pass along the loop. One will connect you with the River Trail, which parallels the Smith River heading east. While the other junction will connect you with the Hiouchi Trail and the Mill Creek Trail. The Hiouchi Trail heads north towards the Jedediah Smith Campground, while the Mill Creek Trail travels south, and more or less follows Mill Creek and Howland Hill Road.

Just south of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, in Klamath, CA, is the famous 49-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan leaning on this axe with a 35-foot tall Babe the Blue Ox at his side. The statue has been greeting visitors at the Trees of Mystery attraction since 1961.

To reach Stout Grove from Highway 101, drive eastbound on Route 199, also known as the Redwood Highway. Continue past the Jedediah Smith Campground and turn right onto South Fork Road. From here you’ll cross over the Smith River, and after a half-mile you’ll make a right turn onto Douglas Park Drive. Continue on for 2.3 miles to the turnoff for the Stout Grove Parking Area (the road turns into a dirt road, and becomes known as Howland Hill Road).

Trail: Stout Grove
RT Distance: 0.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Max Elevation: 130 feet
TH Location: Near Hiouchi, CA
Map: Redwood National and State Parks Trails Illustrated Map

Best Short Hikes in Redwood National and State Parks offers details on more than 60 hikes in five renowned northern California parks - from half-hour to half-day, with camping and park facilities information. This guide is devoted to the best hikes in Redwood National Park as well as Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith and Humbolt Redwoods State Parks. The book also includes a handy quick-guide for selecting hikes by difficulty, mileage and features (flowers, water, views, etc.).

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