May 23rd, Friday, we set out to explore the Redwood National Park. Our first stop was the Kuchel Visitor Center on the coast, and they gave us maps and info on the best places to see and hike: a great start. After leaving the visitor center we drove thru Prairie Creek Redwood State Park where we saw herds of Elk.
Lady Bird Johnston Redwood Grove
We drove to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail. It was a short hike, 1 1/2 miles, through beautiful stands of old-growth redwood, Douglas fir and tanoak to the site where Lady Bird dedicated Redwood National Park in 1968. Then we drove north and stopped for lunch in Crescent City, a tourist town on the coast. The Ranger recommended that we drive the dirt road in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park to the Stout Memorial Grove, because the road is closed on the weekends.
Jedediah Smith Redwood Stae Park Grove
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park is located inland from the coast and Howland Hill Road is a 5 mile narrow dirt road that winds it’s way through the redwoods to the Stout Memorial Grove. What a great drive looking through the roof of the jeep at the straight, tall stands of redwoods towering above our heads. Stout Grove is the world’s most scenic stand of redwoods. It doesn’t have the biggest, but for the sheer photogenic beauty nothing beats this extraordinary grove. We strolled along the 1/2 mile loop enjoying the cathedral-like majesty combined with a lush lawn-like ground cover and huge green ferns. The Grove is hidden away off the normal tourists routes so we enjoyed the remarkably hushed and serene environment as we walked through these giants. Jedediah Smith was the first non-Native known to have traveled overland from the Mississippi River, across the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast in 1821 at the age of 22. When we left Stout Grove we drove further east along the Smith River one of the last undammed rivers in America, and then returned back along Hwy 101 to Trinidad.