Avenue of the Giants runs for 32 miles down Humboldt Redwoods State Park, providing a scenic passage through an enchanting wilderness. About halfway through this autotour, the road passes the park visitor center, which sits directly across from a grove of old growth redwoods. Gould Grove Loop Trail is half a mile long with just 50 feet of elevation change. There are several short hikes through redwood groves in Humboldt County. In fact, there is another trail of exactly the same length just a few miles north of Gould Grove, the more popular Founders Grove. One advantage of Gould Grove is its convenient location. If you stop at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park Visitor Center or spend a night at the adjacent Burlington Campground, set aside 20 minutes to explore Gould Grove.
Gould Grove Trail is a pancake-shaped loop with two long sides measuring close to a quarter mile each. There are short round corners at the north and south ends of the loop where you will find two access points to the loop. At the north end is the trail connecting to Burlington Campground, and at the south end is the path to the visitor center. Gould Grove Trail, runs parallel to Avenue of the Giants, and while you can see the trail from the road, the trailhead is not clearly marked. From the visitor center parking area, cross the road to the wooden sign announcing the visitor center to southbound traffic. From here, a worn path will lead you straight to the loop, which is set back 0.05 miles from the road. Those camping at the charming Burlington Campground will find another trailhead less than 1/4 mile up the road, at the far end of the campground.
Once on the loop, there are only two other junctions to worry about. Just to the left of the path in from the visitor center, you find the first junction. Make a right and hike 1/4 mile through the backside of the grove to a junction with River Access Trail. After a few more steps, you’ll meet the trail coming in from Burlington Campground, and turn right for a third time, finishing the loop in a clockwise direction.
Despite never straying too far from the road, it is easy to immerse yourself in this world of ancient redwoods. Redwoods still stretch skyward, coming 300 feet closer to the heavens than the miniscule-by-comparison hikers shuffling through their shadows. Sword ferns and diminutive redwood sorrel stretch across the rich soil below the trees, creating a cozy woodland.
Gould Grove Loop Trail is short and sweet. If you have time for just one hike in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, consider Founders Grove Nature Trail. It is accompanied by a trail guide that explains a lot about redwood forests. If you have time for more big trees, Gould Grove Trail provides a charming redwoods experience. Of course there are more groves to explore in the 53,000-acre Humboldt Redwoods State Park, including the 10,000 acre Rockefeller Forest – the largest contiguous ancient redwood forest in the world. No fee or permit is required to hike Gould Grove Loop Trail, so get out and enjoy.
To get to the trailhead: From the north, drive 40 miles south of Eureka on the 101 Freeway to exit 663. At the bottom of the ramp, make a left, cross under the 101 and make an immediate right onto Avenue of the Giants. Continue 4.2 miles south to the Humboldt Redwoods State Park Visitor Center. From the south, drive 39.5 miles north of Leggett on the 101 Freeway to exit 656. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right onto Avenue of the Giants (Route 254 North). and continue 4.3 miles to the visitor center. The trailhead is across the road from the parking area.
Trailhead address: Avenue of the Giants (Route 254), Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Myers Flat, CA 95554
Trailhead coordinates: 40.308085, -123.908575 (40° 18′ 29.10″N 123° 54′ 30.86″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Northern California trails and campgrounds.
|Founders Grove Nature Trail|
This 0.5 mile loop explores an ancient grove honoring the founders of the Save-the-Redwoods League in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
This 1.25-mile loop explores patches of redwoods surrounded by a shaded oak forest in Richardson Grove Redwoods State Park.
|Durphy Creek Trail – Tan Oak Springs Trail – Lookout Point Loop|
This 3.75-mile loop climbs 1,000 feet to a forest ridge before descending to Lookout Point, where you can enjoy an unimpressive view to the south.
|Fern Canyon Trail|
This one-mile hike explores an incredibly ferny canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
|Stout Memorial Grove|
This 0.55-mile hike explores an old growth grove of coastal redwoods in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
|More hikes in Northern California|
Explore other trails in Northern California, including hikes in coastal parks and around Mount Shasta.